This post originally appeared on the Loyal blog.
Community management can be a chaotic job and it helps to have a system in place to stay productive.
I may not consider myself an expert, but I have learned a thing or two as a project manager.
Below is a list of tips and tricks I’ve picked up while working at Loyal that may help you work harder/better/faster/stronger:
1. Strive for inbox zero.
This isn’t for everybody, but to stay organized and be absolutely sure you’re meeting deadlines, it’s worth a try. I receive anywhere from 10 to 60 emails a day, depending on my projects and workload. Although it’s hard for anyone to check and respond to every email daily, there are some ways to accomplish inbox zero. Here’s how I do it:
- Only respond to emails you need to. Don’t send ‘thank you’ emails to unnecessary people (aka your team).
- Archive and delete. If you use gmail.com, archive the heck out of everything, or label it and call it a day. To use your inbox like a to-do list, keep it light and make sure that the only thing you’re seeing is something you need to follow up on. Archive the rest so you can find it again if/when you need it.
- Unsubscribe like it’s your job. Try www.Unroll.me. It’s not flawless, but it is incredible. It scans your email (on a daily basis, and a one-time upon signup) and allows you to unsubscribe from everything. Anything you don’t want to unsubscribe from, you have the chance to either keep or add to a daily roll-up, which combines one email with all of your subscriptions.
- Create a Follow-Up Folder. Use a label or folder specifically for things you need to follow up on, but can’t be done right now. This is perfect for when you send an email to someone with a request and can expect to hear back in a few days, but you want it out of your inbox for the time being. Just be sure to confirm that the recipient does in fact reply and that you remember to follow up next week. To do so, LABEL IT (or in my case, drag it into your ‘follow up’ folder). You’ll no longer have it in your inbox/to-do list, but you won’t forget to check back in a few days. I should add that although I don’t use it, Sarah and Shannon both utilize Boomerang for Gmail to set reminders to visit emails at a later time, removing them for their inboxes in the meantime.
2. Make to-do lists for your daily tasks.
If you’re not already to-do list obsessed, let me share how I remember to create them and continue to use them to my advantage. I have both a Mac and an iPhone, so using the instant-syncing application “Notes” is incredible. I use one page as my to do list, but create other pages for writing blogs, remembering conversations, personal items, and meeting notes with clients. Notes are easy to add to / delete from and you can rest assured that your to-do list is always in your pocket.
Tip: Change the font to Helvetica instead of Marker Felt: Format > Font > Default Font > Helvetica. Trust me, it’s worth it.
3. Use Asana for larger projects.
If you’re working on an event, a new product launch, or managing larger projects, a program like Asana allows your whole team to be involved and manage their own responsibilities. Also, it’s free.
4. Write everything down.
Based on the tips above regarding email and lists, make it a point to write down virtually everything you could possibly need to do. You’ll likely delete half of the things you write down and deem them as useless, but it ensures that you won’t forget anything. Remembering, as a skill, is incredibly important for community managers; forgetting to help solve a problem or follow up with someone can break the trust of your community members and their relationship with your company.
5. Be open to other ideas and tools.
It’s hard to sign up for everything, but some of the best tips and tricks have come from friends, coworkers, and TechCrunch tweets. Give them your best effort before shooting them down completely.
6. If it needs to be designed, perfect it in google docs first.
I’ve spent many hours and days putting together proposals, decks, presentations, and designed documents. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from myself, it’s that I do NOT want to edit copy in InDesign (and neither does your designer). InDesign’s spellcheck is difficult to operate and adding/editing text page by page is just plain time consuming. Spend time deciding exactly what you want each slide/page to look like and fully developing the content before you or someone on your team begins to design it.
7. Keep your files organized
(Google Drive and Dropbox are king)
At WeWork, I managed the organization of and information in over 150 google docs. Sounds fairly overwhelming, but when it came time to ask “where is ________?” you bet I had the answer. At Loyal, we use both Google docs and Dropbox to stay organized. Creating a clear path to finding a file makes opening or editing it a two second process.
8. Spend time with people outside of your office.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Sarah (there are many more than one), it’s that networking, meeting people, and reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances is incredibly important. Whether you’re talking about work or the last episode of Breaking Bad, spending time with different kinds of people helps you grow: your network, as a community person, and as a communicator.
9. Take reading breaks.
Before joining Loyal, I spent 12 hours a day working, really really hard. I was incredibly productive, but my burnout level was at an all-time high. Not to mention my growth within the community industry was stagnant. Simply, I wasn’t learning anything new beyond what I had learned from experience. At Loyal, we make it a point to spend several blocks of time each day to read articles in order to both take a break and to stay up to date with what’s going on in the community world. Great resources for community can be found here, here, and here!
10. Have a pitch for everything.
Whether it’s for yourself, something you’ve worked on, how amazing your community is, or why you should visit France, having a to-the-point (and memorized) pitch helps you stay on track. Figure out the most important details so you can communicate your pitch with confidence.
Do you have any special productivity rituals or applications? We’re always interested in learning, so please share your tips with us in the comments below.