I graduated from college in 2007 and my first job was in marketing. And I’ve been in the field ever since.
A lot has changed during my time in the field. When I first started in marketing, MySpace was more popular than Facebook and Twitter was brand new. Now it’s nearly impossible to be in marketing without having a plan for social media.
Another huge change in the field, as with many fields, is the smartphone. They first came out around 2007, but it took a couple years before it seemed like everyone had one. And along with that change came the seeming all-the-time availability of workers. And it definitely affected marketers.
If you’re a marketer that is feeling the stress, here are some little things I’ve picked up on over the years that seem to help…
1. 80% Routine, 20% Testing
Spontaneity is fun…some of the time. A lot has changed in the marketing world and one thing I noticed that really changed from my introduction to the field in 2007 to about 2012 was that things became less routine.
I’m sure that was at least partly due to the huge changes going on with social media and with phones. And also with online shopping, which is now increasing even faster. It’s difficult to create effective routines when no routines had been created for these things in the past and when the landscape is changing seemingly every month.
But now we’re a decade into these things and it’s possible to develop routines. I’ve found that creating a routine for your work, even in marketing, is critical to alleviating stress.
But what about the creativeness of the field?
It is important to test new things. It is important to focus your attention elsewhere other than the assembly line.
So I like to follow the 80/20 rule where about 80% of your work is spent in a routine and the rest is up for testing new things and not following a script.
Actually, I probably do about 90/10 and it works pretty well. Not just for stress reduction, but for getting things done that lead to more sales and profit.
2. 80% Creation, 20% Consumption
It’s been amazing to watch how social media has evolved in a relatively short period of time. Early on it was relatively good at earning your attention. I remember in college it was fairly easy to open the computer and log in to Facebook to check what your friends were doing.
But as time has gone by it’s become even more intriguing to open social media and consume all the content that it has. You can scroll endlessly on your phone and find entertainment and education for as long as you want.
As a marketer, you’re probably around social media all the time. One of the keys I’ve found is to set guidelines for your creation versus your consumption.
Again, use the 80/20 rule as a starting point. You want to create at about a 4 to 1 ratio versus how much you consume. That would mean that every day you’re spending about 4 hours creating and 1 hour of consuming. The rest you can leave for general work tasks.
I think it’s similar to songwriters. The really successful ones schedule time for writing. They seem to write at least every week and about three days a week for at least a few hours during that time. I would guess that they’re doing more creating than consuming.
3. Scheduled No Phone Time & Activities
As a marketer, you’re probably on your phone all the time. You can kind of lean on the excuse that you need your phone for your job. But that can get tricky. There are a lot of things on your phone that are fighting for your attention. Some can be helpful for your job, but most will just take your time and cause you stress.
Your phone is part of your job. You have to create boundaries.
Schedule time every day to be without your phone. I like to check my email each morning and make sure there are no “fires” going on. There rarely are. Then I put my phone away for 2-3 hours while I read, make breakfast and spend time with my daughter.
I don’t know the science behind it, but it seems to help with my stress by having this time away from my phone. It’s literally in a different room where I can’t even see it.
4. Add Friction To Communication
Email, Slack, Messenger, texting, etc. These are all great. You can send a message to anyone anywhere in the world in a moment. It’s very easy.
But that has kind of made modern work crazy and unorganized.
Think of an assembly line making widgets. If a person were to come up to someone working on the line and interrupt them the entire production would come to a halt.
That’s what happens to your brain when you check your messages during the work day. Your brains shuts down. Even if it’s just for a second it takes a little while to get the whole operation back up and running smoothly.
This puts a lot of stress on your mind and body.
You need to add friction to your communication. Instead of using every communication channel, use one. And when you use that one, set scheduled times to review messages and organize them into tasks. Also set scheduled times to send messages that you need to send.
5. Routine Prioritization
Every year I analyze my daily routine. I look at what my overall goals are. I look for things that have crept into my daily routine that shouldn’t be there because they’re not high enough on the priority list.
It’s very easy for things to seem “urgent” in the moment and over time these urgent things can take up our normal routines.
So it’s good to do a regular audit to get yourself back on the right track. It really helps with overall stress about your job.
Many jobs are stressful. I’ve seen it really take off in the marketing world over the last decade. But there are ways you can reduce your stress and still be very productive with your work. It mostly comes down to discipline and regularly assessing what you’re doing and taking things out that don’t need to be part of your daily routine.