4 Ways to Improve Account Efficiency

By | August 20, 2014
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Do you feel like you’re snowed under with work? Does it seem like you’re running on an endless hamster wheel of assignments, deadlines and emails? Are you feeling more stressed—and less productive—the more effort you put into your job?

You’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 65% of Americans cited work as a top source of stress. A large part of that is due to work overload.

With tight deadlines, competing accounts and multiple clients to please, agency marketers know this all too well.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. While there’s no silver bullet to neutralize stress, account efficiency plays a critical part in your day-to-day mental health. The following tips are designed to lighten the load. They’ll show you how to work smarter (not harder) without sacrificing quality.

1. Use Historical Averages to Better Forecast Time

Use your agency’s time tracking tool to forecast time more accurately. First, pull historical time averages for each account task. For instance, you might pull the account average over the past year for activities like blog posts, ebooks, emails or strategy documents.

Then, pull the historical average in each of these categories by professional. You’ll learn which pros do certain tasks more efficiently. Notably, you’ll also learn which tasks they don’t do efficiently.

That doesn’t just lead to better forecasting each month. It also exposes how an account team’s time is being spent. This, in turn, makes it easier to identify ways to increase productivity.

2. Write Five-Line Emails

Twenty-eight percent of the average workweek is spent reading or sending email, according to McKinsey. That’s 11 hours of a 40-hour week. It’s time to stop the madness. It’s time to start sending five-sentence emails.

This growing movement encourages email users to constrain the length of their messages and combat inbox overload. While you can’t always do this with client-facing communications, internal ones are prime candidates for the practice.

Sound difficult? It is at first. But forcing yourself to stick with five sentences clarifies your thoughts and clearly communicates your wishes. Encouraging others to follow the rule improves account performance as a whole.

The best part? It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you can reduce email time by a mere 10%, you save more than an hour a week.

3. Constrain Your Time

Email isn’t the only thing that benefits from constraints. Your time does, too. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” That task you gave yourself all day to do? You’ll likely make it last all day.

The simple fact is that you work more efficiently under the gun. But why wait until you’re stressed out to reap the rewards? Encourage yourself and account pros to manufacture time constraints. Paired with your account forecasting in Tip 1, find out how long a task takes to do historically. Then, give yourself exactly that amount of time to get it done.

Have a blog post that should take two hours to write? Schedule it for the last two hours of the day or tell a coworker it will be ready for review in two hours. Watch your productivity soar as you have no choice but to complete a task in—you guessed it—two hours.

4. Document Processes for Repetitive Tasks

You’re already familiar with automating lead generation and nurturing activities for clients. Why not inject a little automation into your own schedule?

Document the step-by-step process for any task you do more than once during a week or month. Share the documentation with account pros or your whole agency.

The benefits are many: Pros assigned the task have a clear template to work from. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel any time you take on the task yourself. Others can easily do or delegate the task, if needed. Everyone saves energy, time and bandwidth needed for tasks that require serious brain work.

Task documentation takes some time up front, but it always pays dividends later.

What tips and tricks do you use to increase account efficiency? Our community would love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

Image Source: JD Hancock