time management

Structuring My Time, Busting that Routine

structure of time In order to be more awesome and to spend more of my time doing awesome things, I chose to stop sticking to a routine. In thinking about how to bust my routine and not have one, I came up with a really good idea as I was going to bed the other night. I realized that one of my current problems with being productive and doing everything I want to do is that my time has lost structure. My days felt chaotic and out of control.

I lost this structure when I switched to my inferno of productivity game, when I put all my tasks on the point system. When I made this switch, I took away any sense of doing work at certain times, taking breaks at other times etc. My time was disorganized, so I wasn't maximizing my time or using it efficiently at all. To be more awesome while managing not to have a routine, I think structuring my time would be the best thing to do.

What Structuring Your Time Even Means

Structuring your time, in my opinion, is not the same as a routine. A routine is defined as, "a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program." Structuring and organizing your time isn't the regimented, as there isn't a sequence of actions or a fixed program. It's merely arranging it so that time is set aside to do work, to take a break, to play poker etc. It's not necessarily doing the same things each day, or doing certain things at certain times. It's making sure that you make the time to do what you need to do as well as what you want to do. This ensures that you don't waste time and that you don't let your time fly by without you.

How I'm Accomplishing This

One of the things I lost when I started my inferno of productivity was my planner. Since I moved my task list from the planner to the point cards, I stopped looking at my planner and I stopped using it organize my day in any way. I exacerbated this problem when I purchased a set of Day of the Week binder clips. This allowed me to create point cards for the next week, instead of just the next few days like I started. Doing so much in advanced actually made organizing my time harder, since I needed to have more in my head and I didn't have all that on paper. I've had those binder clips for several weeks now, and I think that's when things began to fall apart.

I'm fixing all this by bringing the planner back in, using it to create this structure while also using my point cards to keep track of what needs to be done. With the planner, I can also get a sense of the events and meetings coming out, and gauge how much time out of my day each of these events will take up. This prevents me from trying to cram too much and from stressing out because I didn't get as much done as I hoped.

I started this process today, and so far, I think it's working well. This organization gives me a good idea of what needs to done, as well as what's possible to get done during the day. It also puts me into a more productive, motivated, and coordinated mindset. I understand that it is a bit early to call things, so with just about every other thing I've tried, I'm going to give this several weeks and see if things improve.

Content Marketing Tech Tool of the Week: Google Calendar

content marketing calendarGetting all those deadlines straight can be tough. Even tougher may be setting your own deadlines to weekly or reoccurring work. Either way, it all needs to be organized, remembered, and stuck to like a diet regimen. There are many ways to do it, but this week's Tech Tool of the Week is the method that I prefer: Google Calendar.

Most people probably use Google Calendar as a daily or weekly planner. I prefer a paper one for the daily and weekly stuff. I like being able to see my entire day at once with a paper planner, while with online calendars like Google Calendar, you have to do a lot of scrolling. I hate scrolling, as I see no reason why online calendars have to show the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.. No one ever schedules anything for that time of night, except sleeping. Anyway, Google Calendar is great for things like deadlines, where there's not necessarily a certain time something is due, just a date. As include those at the top, as shown in the pic, and color code them depending on the publication or client (there are a few weeks when I feel that Google Calendar could use more colors).

I went this route originally because these deadlines clogged my planner. I had Google Calendar as part of my iGoogle home page, and figured that seeing each day's deadlines would be helpful for me. I also like that I get reminders each day via text message, just in case I forget. I also update the calendar every Friday, so I can plan for the week ahead. This helps me to spread out my work throughout, so I don't have eight things due on Tuesday, for example. It also helps me to gauge how busy my week is going to be before it even begins.

Using Google Calendar keeps me from putting certain tasks off and allows me to accomplish a certain amount of things each day. Do you use Google Calendar? If so, how? If not for deadlines, what do you do to keep track of deadlines? I'd love to hear about your thoughts and techniques.

Delegation and Content Marketing Strategy

content marketing delegationEven in content marketing, there are sometimes projects that need to be delegated or outsourced. Some content marketers actually do this quite frequently so they can fit in more clients and get more done. Some do it because they've come across a project that's just too big for them to manage on their own. Whatever the case may be, delegating tasks gives you the chance to work on a few aspects of the project really well, instead of working on many aspects really poorly. It also provides freelancers the opportunity to lead and to manage, which may not happen quite often, while those delegated to have the opportunity to shine and to showcase their skills. But, are there certain ways to delegate? If so, are there times when one way would yield better results than another?
The delegation method used depends on the group and the type of project. After all, the way you would delegate tasks to a group that has volunteered for a project is different from how you would delegate to a group that’s been assigned to the project. If the situation arises for freelancers to become project managers, then here are three styles of delegation, and the scenarios which would be most appropriate for each method:
1.      Assignment – This is when you, as the project manager, simply assign tasks to different people. Choosing which tasks to delegate, and to whom, is entirely up to you. Assigning tasks is good to use in a time crunch, when you can’t wait for group members to volunteer for a task, or if a task or two has come up at the last minute, and you need someone to do them right away. Assignment is also a good method of delegation when you are knowledgeable of the skills of each of your group members. Then, you can assign tasks based on those skills.
2.      Volunteer – Instead of assigning the tasks, you can give your group members the opportunity to volunteer for the available tasks. This is a good delegation method if everyone in your group volunteered to be in the group in the first place. It’s also a good choice if you have a smaller group, where each person will have to take on multiple tasks. Giving your group the option to choose in this scenario allows each person to evaluate how much time they have for different tasks. Assigning tasks in this case may unfairly burden some members and not others. If you, as the project manager, think that your group will respond to the tasks at hand, then volunteering would be a good way to delegate.
3.      Russian Roulette – This is where you delegate through randomization, perhaps pulling names or tasks out of hat to delegate the tasks. This method should be used in case too many people are volunteering, or volunteering for the same tasks, or if the group doesn’t want to be assigned tasks. Russian Roulette can also be used if there a lot of menial or unfavorable tasks, the sort of things that people wouldn’t want to volunteer for or to be assigned. Russian Roulette, in this case, can be seen as a the fairest way to delegate. It’s also a good method if you’re managing a large group or large number of tasks, where assigning tasks or having members volunteer, would just take too long.
Overall, delegation is about entrusting your team with important responsibilities for the goal of the successful completion on the project. Just like there’s more than one way to establish trust with a friend or family member, there’s more than one say to establish trust with your group members. Choosing the appropriate way to establish that trust could dictate how a project moves from start to finish.