This blog post goes out to all of the interns, students, and really anyone who finds it hard to start in on that daunting task list you have laying in front of you. One thing is for certain, you are not alone.
I’m getting ready to graduate in May with a degree in advertising and a double concentration in Brand Strategy & Research and Account Management. This was my second time interning with DAY Vision, a full-service creative marketing agency, but this time with a different role. Where I had previously been producing a lot of social media posts and blog content, I am now in a client-facing position with more campaign and reputation management.
My role switch within the agency showed me just how vital a clean and manageable to-do list is. Because of my new responsibilities and extended client list, I had to be on top of my game, ensuring nothing fell through the cracks. Through trial and error, I have compiled a few tips to help you master your to-do list:
Tip #1: Write that stuff down
This is my first and favorite tip of them all. I call this part of the process, my brain dump. I open up the Notes feature on my laptop and one by one go through each client that I am in charge of. I think through the process and projects pertaining to them that I see coming up in the foreseeable future and double check with the project management software the agency uses to communicate and delegate tasks on. I write every little thing down and separate it by client. This way, I don’t forget anything!
Tip #2: Pay attention to due dates
Some tasks may be more time sensitive than others. I make sure to mark down if something has an upcoming due date, whether it happens weekly/bi-weekly, and whether or not it is a continuously open task.
Tip #3: Talk it out
This tip is vital. Be sure to check in with your boss or supervisor at the beginning of the week, or even daily if that helps! Read them your list and make sure there is nothing outstanding that you let slip your mind. Ask them what they need right away versus what you can take more time on. Sometimes they have a different idea of what’s deemed most important, even if a due date in your task list says otherwise.
Tip #4: Mark it up
Move your priorities and tasks around in whatever way feels right to you! This is when you should take notes, re-write the order, change the colors you use for priorities, and get highlighting!
Tip #5: Set aside time
Once you know what’s most important, you should evaluate how long you think each task will take you. This will help to ensure you don’t set unrealistic expectations for the amount of work you can finish in one day. Once you have an idea of task times, you can schedule the projects into your calendar. Allow yourself enough time to brainstorm, get creative, make edits, and get lost in research!
Tip #6: Focus with one thing at a time
Rather than focus on three things at once and trying to multitask, split it up and attack one goal at a time. Your work process will improve, along with your mood and the final project outcome!
Tip #7: Maintain a level of confidence
I tend to get nervous before I take on a new task that I am uncertain of. If you go into a task with nerves, you might end up pushing off beginning the task until you are nearly out of time. Instead, try maintaining a level of confidence. Remind yourself you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, ask a co-worker for help, or even look it up on Google! The surer you are in yourself, the more efficiently the task will get done.
These are just a few of the many tips you can implement into your to-do list project management workflow. The more I applied these tips in my work day, the more excited I got to share my project progress, take on even more tasks, and successfully complete the ones I had on hand.