Agency productivity can be a tricky thing to understand.

How do you know if your employees are billing enough hours? Or if they are performing quality work that represents your brand?

With so many internal and external pressures placed on the team, it’s not easy to step back and take active measures toward creating a more productive agency.

So, we’ve put together some tips and tactics that can help.

Take Breaks

Scrolling through Twitter — not a break. Checking Instagram — not a break. Checking on your 401(k) — not a break. Reacting to news headlines that pop up on your phone — not a break.

To increase productivity, it’s important that your breaks provide real relief from the rigors of work.

It almost doesn’t matter what it is that you do, so long as it clears your mind. Walking, reading, working out, yoga, going out to eat, cooking (if you work from home), listening to music, playing music, singing —  virtually any activity to provide a respite from the glowing computer/phone/tablet/television screen in front of you somewhere between six and twelve hours a day.

Power Tip: Your agency may have an employee wellness program you can join. If not, perhaps you can partner with your HR team to create a wellness program that aligns with your company culture (and, of course, budget).

Block Distractions

Slack. Text. Email. We are constantly bombarded with information.

What if you need to write a blog post? Or plan a product launch? Or simply have lunch with a client without responded to every buzz in your pocket?

Successful PR pros are able to focus and complete one task at a time (even though it’s now harder than ever to do).

Single-tasking is proven to increase your effectiveness, reduce stress, and even improve how you feel about your job. Granted, it can be challenging to focus on only one thing at a time. That’s where apps like Noisly and Freedom come in to help you avoid outside distractions or even (gasp!) temporarily turn of the internet.

Understand the Budget

Productivity can take a major dive if you are suddenly about to go over budget on a project. Every minute worked against a retainer that’s already maxed out can add significant costs to the organization.

Over-servicing is incredibly counterproductive.

That’s why it is so important to see, in real time, how many dollars or hours are remaining on a project, which employees are both capable and available to do the work and, roughly, how long the project should take to complete.

This not only helps ensure the right people are doing the right work, helps avoid a last-minute scramble.

By understanding the budget, and planning employee resources, you will increase productivity, and with it, profitability.

Know What Metrics Matter for You

Different employee roles require different metrics. Business Development might be focused on the number and value of new deals, whereas HR might obsess about time-to-hire, recruiting costs, and employee retention.

If you’re managing a team of account executives, you might care about employee utilization, employee availability, and client satisfaction. If you are an account executive, you might care about hitting your billable hour targets or simply completing all deliverables for the week.

Every agency is a bit different, but for the team to perform well, everyone needs to understand what it is they are held accountable for. The more effectively management can communicate company and individual goals*, the more productive the organization will be.

Take Advantage of To-Do Lists

It’s a rare day at an agency when something doesn’t pop up and throw your for a loop. It could be a last-minute client request, something your boss needed finished (yesterday), or a campaign that over or underperforming and now requires immediate action.

Things always seem to come up. That means you need to prioritize and re-prioritize your day.

Being prepared ahead of time makes this process much easier. Knowing what work must be finished versus what should be finished is the only way to juggle multiple deadlines with multiple clients.

A good old fashioned to-do list is the trick. You can use basic pen and paper, a Google Doc, or one of the many to-do apps online.

Added bonus: Some employees actually find enjoyment in crossing off items on a to-do list.

*Provided the goals are realistic.

By David Klein, Director of Marketing at ClickTime