Take a look at your to-do list. Do you need a set of binoculars to see the last item? I know I do.
As marketers, we’ve got a lot on our plates—juggling clients, team meetings, revisions, even more revisions and constantly changing trends.
Add to that the constant quest to find the next best creative concept or idea, and it’s a wonder our brains aren’t melting out of our ears.
So how can we keep our brains from melting while dusting the cobwebs off the ends of our to-do lists this year? Grab your cup of coffee and read on for some ways to boost your marketing productivity.
Sitting in the same space, looking at the same walls and the same screen all day can be stifling and put a damper on creativity. If you have a laptop or can work via a secure VPN, take advantage of it. Try sitting in an empty conference room, or in the lobby of your office.
Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to recharge your brain. (I’ve changed locations at least three times while writing this, so I can attest to its usefulness.)
If you work in an office where you have the ability to move around, I recommend camping out in the lobby. Not only is it comfortable, it gives you awesome brainstorming potential—you never know who will stop by or who you can stop for a quick chat. If you work remotely, try heading to a coffee shop or local library for some inspiration.
Getting the recommended 10,000 steps per day is really hard to do when you’re sitting at a desk. Factor in the post-lunch coma most of us experience and afternoons can be a real struggle. If you can, try to get up once an hour and take a short walk—two or three minutes—around the office. It can get your blood moving and help clear your head. If you need to talk to a coworker, instead of calling or emailing, why not walk over to their desk? Or if you’re on a conference call, try moving around the conference room while talking.
I find just taking some laps around the lobby or going up and down the stairs a few times is a huge help. (It also adds to your step count, which means you have less work to do at the gym later.)
You might be tempted to work through lunch, but what happens in a few hours when you’re hungry AND grumpy? Chances are you’re going to get less done than if you’d taken the time to eat lunch in the first place. And when I say eat lunch, I mean actually stepping away from your desk and engaging with other humans while eating. Only one in five of us takes a lunch break these days, which can have serious effects on creativity and morale. You never know where your next great idea will come from. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve whipped out my phone while at lunch with coworkers to jot down a great idea.
And don’t forget to snack. If your office stocks munchies, take advantage if you get hungry. If not, bring your own stash of brain-power snacks like nuts or dried fruit if you know you’ll need something between meals.
I know what you’re thinking: “I spend all day reading or writing. I can’t possibly take time to read something for entertainment.” Just taking a break and reading something that’s the opposite of what you’re reading or writing—like reading fiction when you’re writing nonfiction—can get the creative juices flowing. In fact, stories have been shown to put a person's whole brain to work—allowing us to experience emotion, make a connection to the storyteller and much more. Uri Hasson of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute found "a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience."
Keep your favorite book on your desk and read a few pages when you feel stuck. Or check out your favorite blog or website for inspiration. I used this post about inbound marketing wins to give me ideas for this post, and for more storytelling inspiration, I read Dr. Howard Markel's PBS Newshour columns. It can also be helpful to think of your own stories and experiences when crafting a piece of content.
You know how I got the idea for this post? I talked it out with my excellent co-workers. If you feel like you just.cannot.get.over.that.hump, try brainstorming. Talk to people in your department, talk to people outside of your department. Heck, talk to your family and friends. Brainstorming can be as simple as asking someone, “I have this product, what are some ways you would use it?” or “How would you like to use this product?” or ”What frustrates you about X process?” Plus, having face-to-face interactions with people not only improves our productivity, it makes us happier too, according to psychologist Susan Pinker.
Take the example of 25,000 call center workers. In this study, the workers were divided into two groups—one that took breaks alone, and one that took breaks with coworkers. Those agents who had 15 minutes to chat with their coworkers showed a 20 percent increase in performance.
Pinker provides these additional tips to incorporate face-to-face socialization into your workday:
Doing your job is no small task. So, whether you’ve crossed off half of your to-do list, or just got started on a project, give yourself a pat on the back and take time to reward yourself.
How do you plan to improve your marketing productivity in 2016? Let us know in the comment section below!
(Images via GIPHY)