Staying organized is a lot easier said than done – anybody can tell you that. However, tell someone who works at a bustling marketing agency that it is easy to stay organized and you are guaranteed to get a look of contempt. Juggling thirty different clients while managing your department and still fitting in a game of ping pong here and there can cause even the most organized marketing professional to get flustered.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone that works at marketing agencies are disorganized. In fact, I work with some of the most organized people around. I’m simply saying that in such a fast paced environment, staying on top of everything can sometimes be challenging. And, as much as we’d all love having our own personal assistants to take care of our scheduling and remind us of important tasks, that just isn’t realistic.
Luckily, we live in the 21st Century with a variety of virtual tools that do everything you’d expect from a personal assistant. So, if your New Year’s Resolution is to get organized, we recommend trying out a few of these awesome organizational tools in 2017.
Not only is HourStack the ultimate time management tool, but it is also a great way to ensure that you are spending the appropriate amount of time and resources on specific clients and/or deliverables. HourStack is a platform that allows you to plan your week by creating a virtual to-do list each day. For each task on your to-do list, you estimate how long you think it will take to do in order for you to account for every hour of your day.
Whenever you begin a task, you simply hit “Start” and the timer will begin. HourStack will then notify you when your allocated time runs out. This lets individuals know that they are spending more time on a certain task than they had thought, which allows them to plan better in the future. Time management is a prime skill to possess while at an agency and having the proper tools in your arsenal can make it or break it for you!
The biggest value of HourStack, to me, is the real-time notification of when I’ve reached my allotted time so that I am aware when things are running longer than expected. From there I can I can rearrange my day to knock the remainder out or chisel out some time later in the week to ensure I’m hitting my goals.
At a management level, HourStack gives department directors and managers visibility into goals and daily productivity. We’ve found that the visibility also provides a level of autonomy for everyone on the team so that team members have the freedom to tackle their project responsibilities as they see fit. This also allows team leaders to check up on their department’s progress and see where they could offer some assistance, either in real-time or once a reporting analysis has been conducted.
From a top-level management perspective, HourStack is great for keeping eyes on how much time and resources we are allocating towards specific clients. If you forecasted 6 hours a month for a certain deliverable and the team is spending 10 hours on it instead, you can better forecast each employee’s workflow in the months ahead by giving them those 4 extra hours. Finally, you’ll be able to connect the dots between forecasting hours and a true profitability for a department, account, or project.
Oh yeah, did we mention it integrates with all of your other favorite tools? Including Asana, Google Calendar, and Slack, along with a few others!
Agency Tip: Visibility for the entire team, beyond management is very important. Know when your teammates are working through that important proposal or are elbow deep in data so you can plan communication accordingly!
Google Drive & Google Calendar
If you are already using Gmail for company email, then this should be a no-brainer! Not only are these tools completely integrated with your inbox, but they are completely free! Make sure you’re not double-booking meetings and allow everyone on your team to see your daily commitments by using Google Calendar to schedule meetings or even block off chunks of time to tell your co-workers not to schedule meetings with you during that time.
Google Drive is a great central repository for files, whether internal or client-facing. Using Google Drive helps provide accessibility to any members of the organization when certain files are needed. Create folders based on client or department in order to ensure that everyone on your team has the resources they need to do their job.
The other best part? Storage is (basically) unlimited! No need to worry about potentially running out of space or having to pay an arm and a leg to have adequate storage. Google Drive will house all of your files without breaking a sweat!
Just as fun as it is effective, Slack is a great tool for internal and client communication. Slack brings all of your communication together in one place with real-time messaging, archiving, and search for teams of all shapes and sizes.
Using Slack, you can organize your teams and conversations into open channels. Popular types of channels include project-specific, account-specific, and team-specific channels. In a channel, everyone has a transparent view of everything that’s going on.
Or, if you are discussing sensitive information (or just don’t want everyone all up in your business), you can create a private channel. Using private channels, you can invite a few team members. Chats in private channels are private to the team members invited. Orrrr, you could get even more specific by sending direct messages to any co-worker you’d like. Just like private channels, chats in direct messages are completely private and secure.
The channel groupings aren’t even the best part about Slack! Slack also allows you to set desktop and mobile notifications for certain keywords, such as clients or departments, so you are notified as things come up that are relevant to you. Let’s say you want to be notified everyone says “SEO” because you work in the SEO department. With the touch of a button, you can make sure you are notified every time that keyword is mentioned.