As a kid, I’d blissfully sit during my free time at school rearranging the contents of my pencil box in an eternal pursuit for the perfect organization system. Even in high school and college I couldn’t help but color code my notebooks and folders by subject. Organization has always been an attractive comfort for me. It’s a fun puzzle to find just the right place for everything and the streamlined clarity that a good system offers is a great treat for my anxious brain.
Working in social media, my personal attraction to organization has been a godsend. If you work in social, you know how the constant demand for new content on all your channels can leave you buried in piles of content creation projects. At times, you may even have felt the urge to hyperventilate because of this unceasing need to publish combined with the necessity of stewarding the next piece of content on deck. At one point, I had a Post-It on my monitor at work that read “Feed the Facebook Monster” because my workload felt as if I was always running to stay one step ahead of this ever-hungry creature out of a Harry Potter book.
The great thing is there are knights in shining armor out there ready to help you slay that dragon. They’re called project management systems. You may have used or heard of one or more of these systems: Asana, Trello, Podio, monday.com, Basecamp, there are pretty much endless possibilities. When speaking about choosing a strategy for accomplishing deep work, Cal Newport says he believes you must choose a style that fits you and your reality (2016). Since a project management system is a tool made to help you be productive and do your best work, I believe your choice should be made using similar parameters. Not every system will spell success for every user. I’m going to share about the system I currently use at work, Wrike, and reasons why it works well for my personal needs as a social media professional.
The Wrike workspace is organized into folders. For example, in my image above I’m showing you my Personal folder with a layout of the projects and subtasks for a current graduate class in which I’m enrolled. In my office we also have folders for different task types. As would be expected, I spend much of my day in the Social Media folder. I bring folders up because it’s the offering of the personal one that I find useful.
Many of my projects for social media content do come from outside my team. We utilize Wrike’s form feature to allow outside requests to be made, which are then automatically added to the appropriate folders. However, as most social media managers know, I also create my own demand for content. Whenever, I get a good idea, I start off by creating a project in my personal folder. Because this workspace is private, it allows me a creative area to develop an idea and plan it out before I move it to the shared folder where my team can start collaborating on it. Not everything makes it out of my personal folder, but it helps me incubate ideas outside of just my head or my notepad.
There’s a great Dashboard feature where you can create unique feeds of projects based on folder or status or both. Having my personal projects next to all my projects from other folders, helps remind me to make time in the day not just for completing requested work, but developing new projects and ideas. Finding time and energy to come up with and nurture your own ideas is difficult, but I believe it is critical for success as a social media professional.
I also find that Wrike does a good job at calming my anxiety about the sheer number of projects on my radar at any one time. Each project or subtask always has a status attached to it. You can create customized workflows for different types of projects. Your workflows can have as many status options as you have stages in your particular work process, each status can be assigned a unique color and you can even set it up so that when a particular status is chosen, Wrike will automatically tag the person who’s responsible for that step.
There are a wide range of ways to visualize a folder’s projects, from Gantt charts to Kanban style status boards and even calendars. I tend to default to the list view, which I toggle between ordering by status and ordering by due date. No matter your personal preference for visual processing, Wrike helps you quickly get a bird’s eye view of everything assigned to you and its status and/or due date. It keeps me from fearing I’m letting a project slip through the cracks.
If you enjoy the satisfaction of a good checkmark at the end of a project, the creators of Wrike had you mind when they designed the platform. Instead of just choosing Complete in the workflow, you can check a box on each subtask and project to mark it finished. It may seem trivial, but I find this really does offer a much-needed emotional reward for your hard work. With the constant demand for content in social media, I often find myself completing one task and just running on to next with barely time to breath. The checkmark feature gives me a moment to pause and focus on the positive feeling of accomplishment now and then. We need these moments in our work life to make hard days better and stave off the long-term creep of burnout. Plus, a little dopamine boost from a checkmark is better for you than the junk food in your desk drawer.
Whether you’re searching for yourself, your company or your team there’s a solution out there for you. Ready, set, get looking.
Newport, C. (2016). Rule 1: work deeply. In Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world (pp. 95-154). New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.