You are pressed for time. I know it. I have the statistics to prove it.

In a recent post, I asked you to name your biggest hurdle to successful library marketing. I confess I thought the answer would be budget. I was wrong. 44 readers responded and 30 percent of those said they don’t have enough time. Money was the fourth concern on the list, behind staff and experience.

Of course, this makes sense. I am pretty sure if you stopped people on the street, most would tell you they never have enough time to do the things they want or need, personally or professionally.

And yet, we are expected to crank out library promotion after library promotion, increase attendance, increase circulation, and increase donations to our library. And we only have eight hours a day to do it all. It’s exhausting. But there are ways to improve your time management.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a number of people who have mentored me in my journey as a library marketer. Most of these mentors are not marketers! They’re upper management and they’ve been kind enough to share tips for time management, which I have put into practice.

It’s my turn to pass the five most effective tips on to you. This is my secret to making sure my work is completed and my personal life stays in balance. No magic, no gimmicks!

Make a wish list for tomorrow.  Make a list of the things that you wish to get done during the day tomorrow. You should be working on this list throughout the day today. Include every task: meetings, lunches, phone calls, calculations, reports, writing assignments–the whole deal. At the end of today, go through your tomorrow list and highlight 3 things that absolutely must get done.

Each day when you walk into the office, your tomorrow list becomes your today list. Do the highlighted things first. Once you have the “must do” items completed, you are free to move on to the non-highlighted items.

Be protective about your wish-list. If someone emails you with a task and it isn’t absolutely urgent that you complete it right this very instant, put it on tomorrow’s list. Your list should be sacred, as much as possible. Remember, if it’s not life or death, it gets put on the next day’s wish list.

Do not beat yourself up if you don’t finish every task on your list. As long as you complete your highlighted items, any task finished beyond that is icing on the cake. Move uncompleted items to the wish list for the next day. Soon, you’ll be better at estimating exactly how many tasks you can complete in a day.

I also use my Outlook calendar as a list keeper. When I am given a task that can be put off for more than one day, I enter it as a “meeting” in my calendar on a future day, keeping ahead of any deadlines. I also enter recurring tasks in my calendar, so I can be reminded to add those tasks to my wish list when the time to do them arrives. This frees up brain power and leaves me more time to focus on tasks for today, and not worrying that I’ve forgotten to do something important.

Set aside time for email every day. I mean it. Put it on the wish list. Try to keep your email reading and replying to your designated time. Outside of your designated email time, unless something comes in marked “urgent” or is from your boss, save your response for the next day. This will not only save you time–it will give you time to thoughtfully consider every email to make the most professionally and emotionally intelligent response possible. The same rule applies to phone calls. You don’t have to answer just because your phone is ringing. Use your voicemail.

Block out distractions. I’ve handled social media for our library for past four weeks as we wait for a new staff member to join my team, and let me tell you, I have to fight the urge to check Facebook and Twitter every five minutes. I log out of our social media management platform to help me with this because I have no willpower. If you are distracted, as I am, do whatever you have to do to get focus. When I’m editing our print publication, I will go to another floor of our building with my red pen so I can focus on editing without distractions. It’s okay to create physical barriers to your distractions. It will help you complete tasks in the long run.

Learn to say no. If you’re asked to add to your library promotional schedule but the addition does not drive the overall strategy of the library or falls outside the boundaries of your documented marketing strategy, say no. Saying no gives you time to really concentrate on the pieces that will help your library the most. Your work will be better the LESS you do.

Take creative breaks. No one can churn out tasks, one right after the other, all day long. Take short breaks and walk the stacks, or go for a walk around the block. Get away from your desk for five minutes to stretch your legs and gather your thoughts. Creative breaks will give your mind a rest and help you focus when you need to.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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