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July blog

Chimpanzee procrastination

“I’ll just get this task out of the way OR AM I JUST PROCRASTINATING?"


How satisfying is that feeling when you cross off a task from your to-do list? One down, X amount to go. It doesn’t even matter the value of X, as you still have one less thing to do.

The real question should be…Was that task worth doing, ahead of the other items on your to-do list?

Often when we have a more pressing task to carry out that may be complex or challenging, we will find everything else to do except that task. We welcome snack or cigarette breaks, sort out folders on our computer or file emails. Any thing and every thing that could wait!


Many years ago, part of my job was to resize and upload product images from leading beauty brands onto the company’s intranet. It could be one image or an entire product line – perfumes, shower gels, gift sets, etc. I also had to type in the description and price for each item.

Now I am no speed typist and found the more I typed, the slower I became. Data entry for me, at that time was the most brain-numbing task I could be given (however, these days I find it quite therapeutic, just being able to switch off and not overload my brain for a short period of time).

As my days were always busy, I tended to leave the longer lists of 25 items until the end and race through the requests with a maximum of 2-3 uploads. I felt so good when I looked at my bulging ‘done’ tray - proving my accomplishments for the day. As the last hour towards the close of business approached, I was left with the pages of product lines to be updated, that were needed that day (somewhere in the world).


What should have taken under an hour often dragged out for longer. It was the end of the day, often the end of the week, my momentum was at the bare minimum and I constantly reminded myself ‘I don’t like these long lists’ or ‘these uploads will take me forever’. I was already losing the battle with that mindset. Fulfilling these tasks took longer than necessary, not because of my lack of skills, but because I kept telling myself to avoid them.

Once completed, I almost always wished I had done them earlier and it was not as bad as I thought. But still, I repeated this pattern several times over.


The reality

Eventually, the penny dropped and I realised, because of my lack of planning to prioritise tasks, I was spending more time at my desk, skipping lunch breaks to catch up or working later to complete the important tasks. Instead, I should have left the less pressing tasks until last. Particularly, as those tasks could often be done the day after, or even shared with someone else on the team, who was less busy and willing to help. How many times are we offered the help and say “it’s okay, I can manage”, when it’s not true, or certainly not necessary?

I began to value my breaks and leaving work on time.

I started completing the complex and mundane tasks first. Admittedly, my typing speed did not increase when uploading 20+ images and entering their product descriptions. But it did have increased momentum when working on the requests for up 3 images, as I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and not a black cloud looming over my head.


Creating a list of your priorities each day, will increase your productivity. Simply indicating all the tasks on your to-do list that could be delegated to a colleague, will assist if someone offers you help throughout the day, you instantly know what tasks you could give them.

Be honest with yourself, does completing the quicker tasks first, make you productive or procrastinate?


If you are struggling with managing your workload, contact ROOTS POD for some practical tips to get you back on track.



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June Blog

Man multi-tasking

FEELING OVERWORKED?
Being reactive CAN make you inactive


Reactive mentality​    

I have had the opportunity to work for one of the UK’s top 10 national tabloid newspapers; managing projects for their digital and print campaigns. The aim was to drive increase in subscription sales for their various packages.


The immense pressure across teams and stakeholders to complete a campaign within timescale were overwhelming; often, marginally close to deadline. The team’s effort and dedication at times, working until 9:00pm on a weekly basis with an aim to complete tasks and gain approval after several revisions were remarkable.

Although, noticeably tired and de-motivated, the team was resilient in their performance due to high demands added to what was an already compromised schedule. I was feeling drained and my coping mechanism began to wane, this left me feeling exhausted both physically and mentally stemming from a hectic schedule, high demands and long hours.

Undoubtedly, such demanding schedules impacted on my family/personal life, for example, during the campaign, my mother-in-law became seriously ill and was admitted to hospital. However, due to my work schedule and the demands of the job to meet deadlines, I could not complete my scheduled tasks until after hospital visiting times, this meant I was unable to visit my mother-in-law in hospital and to my dismay she passed away. I was devastated and felt guilty for not having had an opportunity to see her before she died.


How did this impact me

Due to dedication and the drive to succeed in my responsibilities I overlooked the impact this was having on my mental and physical health as well as my family life. I made the decision that I would no longer work after my contracted hours and informed management, clients and the team in this regard.


So what changed?

1. My perspective changed. I took a step back from the chaotic work schedules and reassessed the situation in its entirety, namely work, health, family and recreational pursuits and found that for too long I was following the momentum of being reactive in delivering each demand at the fast pace it was given without question. My reassessment of the whole picture helped in my decision in saying ‘Enough is enough!

2. I also decided to view the situation from a different standpoint to see the workflow from stakeholder to client, to myself, creative, client approval and then back to stakeholder and so the cycle continued.

3. I realised that although there was some communication there weren’t any real plan of action or visibility for individuals to take responsibility for their role in a project and how their actions, or lack of, could impact the team or deadlines.


I implemented an improved workflow that listed all the upcoming and regular work with daily or weekly deadlines, special campaigns, with an option to add last minute requests too. Included in this workflow were the names of all my clients.

Each morning I sat with my clients to discuss the status of their projects and confirm the allocated time slots agreed for them to approve or make amends. If adhoc jobs were required, we would then review all live work collectively and prioritised the more pressing projects, alternatively, decide not to work on unscheduled request at all.

As a result, this improved workflow re-adjustment identified what the creative teams were working on, also ensured alignment across marketing for digital, email and print campaigns, the brand, tone of voice and all messaging were correlated.


The result
I was determined in my decision to leave work at my contracted time, 5:30pm, suffice it to say, so did the rest of the team and my clients. The fast turnaround continued, but at a less reactive pace. Communication improved and there was now much more visibility, accountability and definitely more energy.

Conclusively, this shift was achieved by simply making adjustments to a process that effected minimal changes to the project and the team (including stakeholders).

The desired outcome was to increase morale, decrease the high turnover of staff, meet deadlines early and not at the ‘11th hour’. Furthermore, to ensure all leave the workplace at the allotted time, and as a result, everyone was able to enjoy their evenings which ultimately would enable a better work/life balance.


If you have a desired outcome and you would like to discuss how this could be achieved, please ROOTS POD for a free 45 minutes consultation.

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May Blog

Lady under attack in workplace

Project managers:
May the force be with us


Its 2015 and the latest edition of a global sensation is about to be released. Marketing teams are excitedly brainstorming to make brand-related products or services, that can piggyback on the success of this franchise. My client was no different. In fact, they were fortunate enough to be in partnership with the brand.

An augmented reality experience was required to showcase their dual branded products. It was a fairly new start up offering:

  • an innovative product
  • a newly formed project team - with minimal exposure to augmented reality
  • an additional offshore team only available each day after lunch
  • a new leadership team - who were making changes
  • a creative team not buying into those changes and
  • an unrealistic deadline with missing assets

I mean, seriously, what could go wrong???

Well actually, this is a common scenario for a project manager. So, I was pretty relaxed. Of course, the above-mentioned issues do not surface at the same time…that would be way too easy!

As a project manager

I do need to spot these issues and mitigate them before they develop into a risk! That’s the beauty of being the eyes and ears of each project. I am the interface between internal and external teams, including suppliers. I can offer visibility when it is needed the most.

No-one else will see the whole picture…

No-one else needs to see the whole picture!


Did I mention infrequent mood swings? Not mine…I have no time for that!

A deadline is quickly looming and a creative decides they have received one too many requests to correct the work they did their way, to their own vision. Which was not to the client’s liking.

Creative has a meltdown. They go A.W.O.L, content is locked in their magic box of a Mac with access to no-one else.

Panic starts to kicks in and has a domino effect

  • people are shouting (not me)
  • some are even crying (not me)
  • more meltdowns and a deadline still moving in closer.

No-one notices the project manager

  • Even when using their shoulder to cry on
  • Even when screaming directly in their face
  • Especially not when they are off speaking to individuals for solutions or pulling together an impromptu meeting for quick resolutions and issuing updates
  • Even when they had already built into the schedule extra time to allow for such unforeseen delays, no-one remembers.
  • Even when they managed to keep the budget and scope from creeping over

To be honest, it’s all part and parcel of keeping a ship running smoothly, particularly, when things do not appear to be going so smoothly. A project manager usually has it covered. With their knowledge and expertise gained from previous projects, to ensure you do not need to worry about rising issues.

All this excitement before the client mentions they need to launch the product, that already had an unrealistic deadline, one week early.

One-whole-week-early. Great!

Sigh…

  • More noisy meltdowns
  • More counselling and more consoling
  • More adjusting schedules
  • More budget manipulation
  • More ignoring the project manager as they calmly restructure timings and identify any risks.


But most importantly…MORE celebrations when yet another project is completed successfully!

Client is happy. Stakeholders are happy. Project team members are happy. I am definitely happy, that they are all happy.

“Next project!” I hear you say. The Force was definitely with me!

If you would like to have a cool head running your project, please book in for a complimentary consultation with Althea at ROOTS POD


NB. Please note content in this blog is based on several experiences over the years and not just one project. Details have been exaggerated for dramatisation and hopefully your entertainment. 

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