How To Manage Your Workload

If your New Year’s resolution involves becoming more efficient, you’re in luck. AtTask’s management expert Bryan Nielson has some tips on how to manage your workload. Read on for his advice. For more tips on improving workflow, check out another post from Nielson here.

Bryan Nielson

Bryan Nielson

All too often, creative work is compared to working in a circus—usually because of how often it feels like a chaotic, even clown-like work atmosphere. A popular circus act frequently compared specifically to marketing work is called Plate Spinning, where one performer spins flat plates on the top of several tall poles, simultaneously. According to the laws of motion, eventually the plates will slow down and lose their ability to balance on the poles. If the performer isn’t there to spin them again, they will crash to the ground. You can imagine, then, what happens when multiple plates start to slow at one time…eventually, they all start to drop, one by one.

Tips to Manage Your Workload
(and avoid the spinning plates)

If creatives aren’t careful in their work management tactics, things start to get overwhelmingly stressful when one person or one team tries to balance too many campaigns or projects at one time—eventually, something is bound to crash to the ground.

Additionally, marketing activities can generate more work than there are hours in a day. There are campaigns and creative briefs, research and advertising—the list goes on. There is always far more work to do than hours and people to do it all.

A 2012 survey by ComPsych shows that 63% of workers have high levels of stress, with extreme fatigue/feeling out of control, and 36% of workers lose an hour or more per day at work due to stress.

The best way to excel here is to develop consistency. That means using a process that ensures every task and every resource is identified the same way every time. Here’s how to manage your workload:

Get consistent.

Take the extra time at the start to create a process. This will ensure that work gets done the right way every time. The added benefit is that everyone knows what is expected and can plan their own work more efficiently.

Develop standards.

Create standard templates and timelines. Outlining the steps and resources needed will ensure that you haven’t missed critical tasks or done them in the wrong order. Once a template contains all the necessary steps, add timeline thresholds needed to complete each step.

Reap rewards.

By requiring templates and timelines, you can save time by automating repetitive tasks. Additionally, you can more accurately forecast the time needed and be sure nothing gets missed. Be sure to consider holidays, vacations, and company events when planning. Then, roll up each request into a master calendar.

In 2013, organizations with successful work performance measures such as on time, on budget and goals met are almost three times more likely to use standardized practices throughout the organization and have better outcomes than organizations with poor work performance.

It all comes down to developing a winning creative strategy. When you change the work process from a random, anxiety-ridden balancing act to a careful work management strategy, you will win every time.


If you’re still not sure how to manage your workload, it’s time to implement some organization. Download Organizing Your Design Life for more information on how to get started.

About the Author

Bryan Nielson, author of the ebook “Winning at the Game of Marketing: 6 Common Marketing Problems and the Tricks to Beat Them”, is a work management expert at AtTask, maker of best-in-class enterprise work management solutions. For more than 15 years, Bryan has experienced and battled the chaos of IT and marketing work at companies of all sizes, ranging from small startups to large enterprises like Microsoft. To learn more, visit or find AtTask on Twitter @AtTask.