Do you feel like there isn’t enough time in your day to get through everything on your to-do list? Are you constantly putting out one fire only to find another igniting? You’re not alone. In our 2023 Content Marketing Predictions survey, marketers expressed the biggest challenge they face in their role is competing priorities and limited bandwidth.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The start of a new year is the perfect time to try out fresh approaches and build new habits to reduce stress and make 2023 a more balanced year.
Read on to discover 6 ways to battle marketing burnout this year.
Set Specific and Achievable Goals
Goal-setting provides you with a roadmap for decision-making and makes prioritizing your work easier, which can significantly reduce stress. As content marketers, our content performance goals rule everything around us. But as we race toward making our organizations more successful, let’s not forget about ourselves. This year, make sure to outline your personal career goals for 2023, too.
When your to-do list is overflowing and you feel pulled in too many directions, pause and look at your goals. By comparing your current tasks and challenges to your goals, you can prioritize based on decisions you made when you weren’t under so much stress. And you can more easily decipher if how you’re spending your time is actually moving the needle toward your goals, and seek to eliminate tasks or initiatives that are not.
A common mistake marketers make is setting vague and unmeasurable goals, which makes them challenging to achieve and easy to lose track of. Instead, create S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Hot tip: Write down your goals and share them with a colleague.
A study found that 76% of people achieved their goals when they put them into writing, created goal-driven actions, and shared weekly updates — a 33% increase over people with unwritten goals.
Set Time Aside for Creative Work
Marketing is fundamentally a creative endeavor. And many of us got into marketing to flex our creative muscles. But make no mistake: creativity is not superfluous, nor a nice-to-have. It’s essential in today’s competitive landscape and can mean the difference between hitting your goals and falling short.
Harvard Business School found that creativity yields business benefits, including increased innovation, productivity, and adaptability. Additional research found that being creative actually improves a person’s overall well-being. But many of the tasks that fill our day — attending meetings, gathering metrics, looking for SEO keywords, scheduling social media posts, etc. — often sap our creativity.
Bring Method to Madness with Time-Blocking
Get in the habit of time-blocking portions of your day and/or week specifically for creative tasks, just as you would a meeting or appointment. Instead of blocking out windows for general creativity, get specific based on priorities. Block out an hour for editing this week’s emails. Block out three hours for webinar scripting, another two hours for campaign brainstorming the next day, and so on and so forth.
This method gets you out of the daily scramble of figuring out what to do when — all you need to do is follow the play-by-play you’ve outlined for yourself on your calendar. Plus, it gives you an all-important time limit, so you can better check yourself and ensure you’re not spending more time on one task than you initially set aside.
You can also use this method to figure out how long a given task actually takes you, making it easier to divvy up your days and set better, more achievable project-based deadlines.
Experiment to Find What Works For You
There are a million ways to get more efficient, but you need to find the one that works for you. Maybe it’s the “eat the frog” approach, in which you find the worst task of your whole day and tackle it first, so everything after seems easy. Or maybe you’ll love the Pomodoro method where you work in timed, 25-minute intervals followed by periodic breaks.
Whatever method speaks to you, many marketers find that working on creative tasks in a quiet place improves their creativity. Look for ways to limit distractions and disruptions that interrupt your creative flow. Make use of Slack’s (and other instant-message platforms’) away message and snooze notifications features to silence pesky alerts and let your colleagues know you’re in the zone. Time-blocking can give you the dedicated time and space you need while allowing you to prioritize creativity among your more urgent tasks.
Streamline Creative and Editorial Processes
The more stakeholders a project has, the more cumbersome managing revisions and finalizing a piece becomes. By having a process locked down before you start a new project, you can reduce the overall time spent on the project and the stress that comes along with it. Not only can this help battle marketing burnout, but often improves the quality of the finished product.
To do this, determine which stakeholders need to review each project, and limit reviews only to the most critical stakeholders. The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” rings true here. You might think that the more feedback/opinions you have on something, the better. But when too many people are involved in a project, opinions often clash.
And in an attempt to satisfy everyone’s concerns, the piece often turns into a Frankenstein-esque cobbling of disjointed thoughts rather than a cohesive story.
A strong process with a clear chain of command is a content creator’s best friend.
If multiple people are reviewing a project, consolidate feedback into a single document and delegate one team member to review and address all of the feedback for consistency and efficiency. Most importantly, ensure that everyone who must sign off on the project reviews the outline and first draft, so you don’t run into a stakeholder sounding the alarm bell and looking to switch direction at the last mile.
📝 Related Resource: The Key to Content Planning for More Efficient Distribution
Collaborate When Necessary – But Not Too Much
Working across departments and with team members is likely a necessary part of your role. However, meetings often drain our energy, occupy valuable time, and contribute to marketing burnout. Before scheduling a meeting, pause to consider the benefit and if each person’s presence contributes to a positive outcome.
You might think, “it wouldn’t hurt to have so-and-so listen in.” But if they’re not playing a critical role and you could have easily given them an update on the project when you spoke to them next, you’re wasting precious time in their day — increasing their frustration and giving them less time to spend on actual production.
In recent news, the tech giant, Shopify, temporarily banned meetings of two or more people to improve employee productivity. The change is anticipated to scrap nearly 10,000 events, which equates to more than 76,000 hours of meetings.
When planning your week, try to schedule one or two meeting-free days. According to an MIT study, companies that designated one day a week as meeting-free saw a 35% increase in productivity. The gains increased to 71% with two days without meetings. However, adding a third meeting-free day moved the needle only a bit, up to 73%.
Set Boundaries for Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance has always been a challenge. But increased remote and hybrid work has made it even more challenging for some. According to The Conference Board survey, 47% of workers are concerned about blurred work-life boundaries, such as the difficulties of unplugging from work and always being “on.” Additionally, 32% are concerned about increased work hours or workload. To combat this, set work hours for yourself and stay disconnected during off-hours. This ensures you get time to recharge your work and social batteries.
Taking breaks throughout the day also helps reduce burnout. According to the Tork Take Back Lunch Survey, 39% of workers occasionally, rarely, or never take breaks.
Additionally, more than twice the percentage of women (67%) than men (33%) are likely to not take breaks. The Power of Lunch survey found women working remotely are more likely than male co-workers to do household chores during their breaks. However, 78% of workers felt that taking a lunch break improves their performance.
So take that break, and get some fresh air while you’re at it. Studies show that even a 20-minute break spent outdoors relieves stress.
Lean Into Your Strengths and Encourage Open Communication
When you focus on tasks that aren’t your strengths, time spent and frustration increase while quality suffers. Although you’ll inevitably do tasks that aren’t in your comfort zone, you can reduce burnout by focusing on tasks you excel at, playing to your strengths.
If you’re in a management position, get to know each of your team member’s strengths and delegate accordingly. If you’re a team member, don’t suffer in silence: communicate with your manager if certain tasks are taking up too much time. And on that note, be transparent when your workload is starting to feel unmanageable.
It’s easy to think “if my manager is asking me to do it by tomorrow, it must be doable. I’d better not let them see me sweat and scramble to get this done.” But managers aren’t mind readers. Odds are, your manager isn’t even aware that a certain task is causing you friction, or that they’re saddling you with more work than is feasible.
It’s 2023, and it’s high time we lead with open communication and boundaries — and not fear or unrealistic pressure.
If you bring your concerns to light, you can work with your manager to set feasible priorities, find better solutions, or get the training you need. And if your manager dismisses your concerns, that’s probably not someone you want to be working for anyway. Extremely taxing days at work should be the exception, not the rule.
You should also consider outsourcing your most time-intensive tasks, such as writing, SEO research, and graphic design to provide more time in your schedule and reduce burnout.
Your role as a marketer can be overwhelming and stressful. By proactively taking control of your workday, setting boundaries, and adding in healthy habits, you can free up time in your schedule and keep burnout at bay.
>>> Wondering how other marketers feel about their career paths? Read Content Marketing Career Paths: What Can You Expect in 2023?