January is a time for making behaviour resolutions in our private lives and setting strategic goals in our professional careers. On the one hand, many people in the West are focusing their energy on exercising more, eating healthy food, quitting smoking, or saving money. On the other hand, many marketing teams are directing their efforts at promoting the very businesses and tools that assist with these objectives. I find this ironic because the one thing that would help marketers be more productive is something that rarely makes it onto a list of new year’s resolutions: procrastinating less.
There are a number of motivational strategies that lend themselves equally well to personal and professional ambitions. To start with, let’s all agree that it’s hard to accomplish much without using SMART objectives. Make your goals Specific and Measurable so that you have a very clear idea of where you are headed and how well you’re doing as you go along. Limit your objectives to those that are Achievable and Relevant, because you will have failed before you even begin if you are being unrealistic. And of course, ensure your action plan is Time-bound so that you have a hard deadline to work towards.
The real question is, how do SMART goals become SMART achievements? One way is to include other people in the process. It’s already common practice within the realm of personal resolutions for people to team up. Friends make a pact to take turns dragging each other to the gym on a regular schedule. A couple living together creates weekly meal plans, and the two don’t let each other cheat on junk food. Recent graduates with new jobs talk each other out of unnecessary purchases so that they can save up for a summer trip. And so on.
Involving others in goal setting is a little less straightforward in the workplace. Unfortunately, colleagues aren’t always aiming for the same thing. However, marketers often work closely with others on teams, so it’s important to try to take advantage of having the support of co-workers who are aware of your work ethic. While your spouse may never know if you ate a donut at your desk, your colleague can probably tell when you’re procrastinating. So:
- Find the co-worker who interacts with you most frequently during the day and tell them that you have resolved to increase your productivity. Share your SMART goal with them. Convince them to keep an eye on you, ask you for updates, and be your professional cheerleader when you’re having a rough day.
- Identify the colleague who consistently outperforms others with their time-management and organizational skills, learn which strategies they use, and practice, practice, practice. Maybe they’ll tell you they use the Pomodoro technique! If they do, maybe you could synchronize your time and take breaks together.
- Remain accountable to your manager for the big goals, but make yourself accountable to your peers for the small goals. Many people know that writing down their resolutions increases their success rate. Take that one step further and provide written promises to your team members, assuring them exactly when you will complete the tasks they are waiting for to take their next steps.
If you can’t already tell, the psychology of motivation is one of my favourite topics. I don’t claim to be an expert at staying focused, but I’m pleased to be able to share some of my favourite strategies with you. As marketers, we can’t be expected to spend 100% of our time directing our target demographics’ behaviour if we don’t first learn how to manage our own!
Do you have any key strategies to share? Or stories of a great success? Or an epic flop? Please share in the comments below.