What is busy work?
The term ‘busy work’ refers to tasks that have little to no immediate value to an organization’s goals. However, it may also refer to routine tasks that are redundant but necessary, like data entry and reporting.
Busy work prevents marketers from focusing on the more important or urgent tasks like working on the next big campaign, strategizing, or content creation. Luckily, we know ways to cut down busy work so marketers can get back to productive projects.
Tips for Reducing Busy Work
1. Determine how you’ll prioritize your workload.
Chances are you have more than one type of deliverable if you’re a marketer. Take the time to analyze and prioritize which parts of your job duties are most important to least as a general framework.
Focus on the most critical or time-bound tasks first, making the busy work seem less tedious when you get to it and giving you designated time to address it.
Pro Tip: Avoid the myth of multitasking. Otherwise, you risk jumping from project to project without finishing notable work, thus extending the time spent on busy work.
2. Create a routine with daily to-do lists.
Making a to-do list is easy, but adhering to one is not. Marketers should carve out time at the beginning of their week to delegate daily tasks. It can promote better time management — something that often gets away from us when consumed by busy work.
You can also easily use many work management tools to create complex to-do lists. For example, one of my favorite tools is Asana.
Whether you prefer a list view or shuffling a digital dashboard, this tool can help marketers stuck on uncompleted busy work to cross them off and stay on track.
Pro Tip: Make your to-do lists actionable. Start your task titles with action words like “Design,” “Create,” or “Submit” to give you an at-a-glance insight into what’s on your plate.
3. Add focus time to reach goals on your calendar.
The average employee spends 28% of their time dealing with unwanted interruptions. Combine that with boring busy work, and your day might seem less promising.
We know you can’t avoid all interruptions all the time, but you can schedule blocks of time for uninterrupted work on your daily projects. For example, if you block out two-hour chunks on your calendar a day where you can work without interruptions, you’ll give yourself a chance to get meaningful work done. And to avoid falling back into busy work during those time frames, including the type of work delegated in the calendar description.
Online meeting scheduler tools also share this functionality, and HubSpot’s Meeting Tool can be an excellent place to start.
Pro Tip: Be reasonable with the time you allocate yourself. You still want team members or other stakeholders to be able to reach you when necessary.
4. Automate manual processes.
According to the Zapier How We Work Report, 74% of workers say they’d prefer to stay in their current position than pursue a new opportunity. That number increases to 90% for those who started using automation in the last 18 months.
Busy work is typically related to outdated systems or processes that could use marketing automation. These tools help you manage and triage marketing tasks without the time needed manually.
A tool that can help marketers to automate work processes is the HubSpot Marketing Automation functionality.
It’s a master tool that can help marketers set up email list autoresponders or build an innovative and complex network of rules designed to target specific users with the correct email, live chat, website experience, and more.
5. Learn when to ask your team for help.
When things get overwhelming, and you have more busy work than you can handle, there’s no shame in turning to your team for a lending hand. Asking for help can foster a collaborative work environment between coworkers and minimize the intimidation of taking on all the responsibility on your own.
Pro Tip: Be mindful of your coworker’s workload when you ask for help. You don’t want to come off as irresponsible to your leadership. And if you are having cyclical issues keeping up with busy work, then it may be in your best interest to talk with your manager about a reduced cadence.
Spend More of Your Day Marketing, Without All the Fuss
While marketers can’t get rid of all the data, reporting, and busy work from the job, we can change how we approach it. We hope you apply our tips to your routine to get you back on track and less overwhelmed with busy work.