Businessman Stop TimeIn light of the economic struggles of the past few years, companies have cut costs and staff across the board, which means those of you lucky enough to still be employed are finding yourselves busier than ever – and this is especially true for marketers. Now that the economy seems to be out of the woods and consumer spending appears to be on the rise, company executives want to get their brand in front of as many customers as they can. Any marketing professionals who want to keep their head above water – not to mention get ahead – have to  address effective time management immediately. Here’s how to get started.

1. Plan Your Day
Purchase a professional planner from a company like Franklin Covey, or simply create one on your own. Each morning, pull out a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. The first is for tasks that you absolutely have to accomplish, the second is for things that aren’t necessarily pressing but are going to need your attention soon, and the third column is for extras you should squeeze in if you happen to have a lighter day. Any tasks you don’t get done simply go on the next day’s list.

2. Start Exercising
Staying physically fit can go a long way to getting more out of your day. If you’re getting 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, your head is going to be clearer and you’re going to have significantly more energy and stamina. Go for a quick run at the gym, bike around the park, or walk to and from work if you’re able. Giving your body a workout each day can help you sleep better at night and get you to hit the ground running in the morning.

3. Pinpoint and Eliminate Interruptions
If you had to make a list of interruptions that suck up your valuable time, what would be on it? Some typical suspects include social media, checking email multiple times a day, and unnecessary phone conversations. However, everyone’s situation is different. Think about the points in the day when you say to yourself, “I could be getting more done if it weren’t for this.” Identify your interruptions and work to eliminate them. Set your phone to go directly to voicemail when you’re working on a particularly important project, and explore software like StayFocused, which allows you to restrict your own access to certain websites for preset amounts of time.

4. Create Long-Term Goals
Having a daily to-do list is a must, but to keep yourself focused on macro goals, create a list of 30-, 60-, and 90-day objectives. Note them in your planner and refer back to them from time-to-time to ensure you’re staying on track.

5. Try Different Organizational Methods
If a certain technique for organizing your day just isn’t working out, it’s important to be flexible. Try it for a few days, but don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Ask your coworkers or other professional colleagues what works for them and try to incorporate those ideas into your own strategy.

6. Be Sure to Take Breaks
Standing around the water cooler gossiping is not an effective use of your break time. Use your lunch hour to eat a nutritious meal and share some laughs with friends. Also, try to schedule at least 10 to 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon during which you can step away for a moment, even if it’s just a mental reprieve. These mini-breaks can go a long way toward maintaining a high level of productivity and are especially key if you’re in the middle of a big assignment and are hitting a roadblock. Just be sure to get permission from your boss before changing your schedule.

You may not think eating a healthier diet has anything to do with time management, but it does. If you bring your own lunch to work instead of heading out to the nearest fast food joint each day, you’re not only treating your body better, you’re automatically generating more time. Instead of driving or walking, spend that time relaxing and clearing your head. Adjust your diet to include more fruits, vegetables, and freshly prepared meals, and you’re going to have a more focused mind – and that’s the best way to squeeze more out of each day.

What ways can you think of to better manage your time?

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