Hacking The Productivity Paradox For Media & Marketing Professionals – Part 1 of 4

6 General Production & Productivity Hacks!

Every human was born with 24 hours in their day, yet for some, they can achieve so much more than others.

Why is this?

Why can’t others also do that?

Do these people just sleep less?

The most productive people usually sleep well, because being tired doesn’t make them MORE productive, it makes them a lot less productive and in extreme cases unproductive!

So, that’s not the reason.

So what is?

The clue lies in Benjamin Franklin’s adage:

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

A busy person knows they cannot manufacture more hours in the day or skip sleep, so they need to be good at managing their time.

The same 24 hours everyone else has.

As a media, marketing or media person, you already know what you need to do in your role…

But if you’re reading this, you can use a bit of help getting ‘everything’ done.

Not only will this relieve your sense of overwhelm, but it will also increase your confidence to take on more and … achieve more!

We’ve been there too. In this series of hacks, we’re going to show you what we’ve learned that really works.

We’re just as human as you are, susceptible to all the same sh*t like procrastination! And we’ll get to that shortly, pun intended!

Here’s what we are going to cover:

  1. Prioritisation
  2. Inputs, Activities, Outputs & Outcomes
  3. The Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 Rule)
  4. Parkinson’s Law
  5. Being effective vs efficient
  6. Automation & Outsourcing

Let’s get into it…

Hack #1 Prioritisation

Based on urgency and importance, marketing trumps sales – without marketing there are no sales.

Sales trump product delivery – without sales, there is no product to be delivered.

Product delivery trumps customer service – without product delivery, there are no customers to be serviced.

Business “admin” is all the way at the bottom of the pile.

As a media or marketing person, what you do in your role, drives the rest of the dependent functions, so break what you do into sub-areas and prioritise them based on what moves the needle the most.

Hack #2 Inputs, activities, outputs & outcomes

Inputs are resources for activities.

Activities are actions that create outputs.

Outputs create outcomes.

Outcomes are the result you need, not outputs or activities!

To move the needle the most, you need to focus on outcomes (a.k.a. RE$ULT$).

To get there, your time and effort need to be put into activities.

Those activities, such as creating attention and awareness or writing sales copy will create an output; for example, a Facebook Ad or printed brochure.

That Facebook Ad or brochure creates an outcome – that is, either:

  1. Attention and awareness or NO attention and awareness; or
  2. Sales or NO sales.

It’s binary.

Focus on outcomes that create RE$ULT$ by working backward to the outputs, activities and inputs required to get them!


Hack #3 The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle was an observation by Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian civil engineer who noticed that roughly 80% of outcomes come from 20% of inputs, activities and outputs.

This is referred to as “the Vital Few”.

Out of your prioritised list of outputs, what inputs, activities and outputs will get you the greatest outcomes?

What are your “Vital Few”?

Spend your time on them and watch your productivity soar!

Hack #4 Parkinson’s Law

In 1955, Cyril Parkinson published an essay in the Economist stating that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

What this means is the longer the deadline is, the longer the input or activity will take to complete it.

Students are the clearest example of this in the real world…

What do they all do?

Leave their assignment until the night before it’s due and miraculously, they complete it on time!

Why not hack Parkinson’s Law to your advantage and get your deadlines set sooner – you’ll find the ways (Prioritisation, Inputs, activities, outputs & outcomes, and Pareto Principle) to get them done in less time.

IKR? More done in less time.

Who knew?

Cyril did! Now you do too!

Hack #5 Effective vs Efficient

Being effective creates the right outcomes.

Being efficient is about completing activities faster.

If you are efficient at a task that doesn’t create an outcome, then you’re not moving the needle on output productivity and that means you’re ineffective .

If, however, you are efficient at the right task, you create outcomes (being effective), quicker.

Aim first for being more effective than efficient in your role and if you really want to run up the corporate ladder of success, combine both!

Hack #6 Automation & Outsourcing

If your role allows it, let technology get you to 3rd-base and do most of the heavy lifting for you, then you can step in, to complete the home run!

These could be role-specific apps, outsourcing parts of your role you don’t like or are not good at, or using readily available templates and/or checklists.

Bonus Hack: Don’t judge yourself

Finally, don’t judge yourself.

In life, you never know what the alternative would have yielded.

For every choice you make, there is no way to test if the other option would have been a better use of time and effort.

Given that fact, don’t spend time thinking, let alone dwelling on what could have been.

Instead, use your time to create more, better outcomes.

Now, just reading this list doesn’t automatically make you more productive.

I can hear you say “damn”!

Am I right?

If it was that easy, everyone would be successful!

The hard part is implementation.

The best way to get going is to START!

  1. List the outcomes your role requires from you to succeed
  2. Set shorter deadlines for each outcome
  3. List the Vital Few activities (20% that create 80% of your results) and outputs required to meet those deadlines for each outcome
  4. List the inputs, yours and others’ time and effort that you can access for additional leverage
  5. Deploy those inputs either yourself or automate and outsource them

For example, on a typical day, you may have the following activities:

  • Defining ideal customers (based on customer data)
  • Defining customer problems (based on customer data)
  • Solving customer problems (working with product managers to create offers)
  • Finding customers (locating where they are “located” online or offline)
  • Generating attention and awareness (writing and distributing copy through various channels)

Based on this, you may decide on their priority as:

  1. Generating attention and awareness
  2. Finding customers
  3. Defining ideal customers
  4. Defining customer problems
  5. Solving customer problems

This will isolate the deadline and Vital Few (items #1 and #2):

  1. Generating attention and awareness
  2. Finding customers

Then list your resources:

  1. $500 for Facebook Ads
  2. $250 for influencers
  3. 7.5 hours

Allocate those resources to the Vital Few:

  1. Generating attention and awareness – $500 for Facebook Ads and $250 for influencers
  2. Finding customers – 7.5 hours/5

You can use an Excel worksheet with the above example to track the specific tasks.

Back to choices and alternatives, clearly, you can stay on the path you’re already on productivity-wise…

And we both know where that leads!

Or you can take a more productive path to get more done and feel less overwhelmed.

That is a path less travelled: Being more productive than you were before.


If you need a guide on your journey, check out our marketing audit to empower your next marketing strategy.

And be sure to come back for the second instalment in this 4-part series!

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