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How does a lack of disciplined time management within a company affect its marketing practices? That’s what Mike S. Brooks and I talked about on this episode of the Nuclear Chowder Podcast. This was my second time as a guest on the show, but the first time discussing a topic solo.
Listen To The Podcast
In this show, I argue that when small and medium sized businesses do not practice good time management processes the end result is lots of busy time, but not lots of productive time. That has a ripple effect that affects all aspects of the business but most notably the execution of marketing tasks.
While I don’t want to spoil the show for you, here are some of the things I point out about businesses with weak time management skills.
Is Busy Time Productive Time?
There are two business types that bug me. The “always in a frenzy” type and the “multi-tasker” type.
The “always in a frenzy” type is perpetually in catch up mode. They always seem busy, but always seem to have more to do. Despite the whirlwind of activity, they just never seem to catch up. This type never has the time to stop and plan ahead because they are always at the core of the whirlwind they are creating. The whirlwind as it turns out is not a place to fertilize good ideas. The cliché “You can’t see the forest for the trees” is a perfect descriptor for these folks.
Then we have the multi-tasker. This is a person that always propagates the illusion that they are not only getting things done, but getting more than one thing done. The fact of the matter is that multi-taskers rarely get things done well because they are devoting part of their attention to multiple tasks. This busy type, much like with the frenzy type, creates the illusion of efficiency.
Planning, executing and measuring good marketing cannot be done in a frenzy or with half of your attention. It’s a cultural adaptation for us to believe otherwise. In the end, if we take the frenzy out of daily business, more tasks get done and more time can be devoted to growing the businesses and improving its marketing.
Is Your Catastrophe Real Or Imagined?
Another factor that contributes to time being taken away from critical functions is being in a state of constant catastrophe when no catastrophe exists. In the podcast, I talk about a company that called a meeting of close to a dozen people because they were going to “lose business.” The catalyst for this was that a customer had forgotten a password.
Was this a catastrophe or a perceived catastrophe? The series of events leading up to this took many people away from their important tasks and each of them became singularly focused on a non issue. If your business cultivates the idea of perpetual catastrophe, people will behave as if they are always in the eye of a storm. Good ideas cannot grow in an environment like that.
This is not to say that real catastrophes don’t exist, but learning to tell the difference will do wonders and open up your time.
Do You Have Time To Daydream?
The act of thinking is underrated and often frowned upon. To a lot of people in corporate culture, sitting in a chair thinking is synonymous with not doing anything. The practical reality is that thinking is the most important thing anyone can do.
If this was the 16th century and we were berserkers about to go to war, then you might have a point that thinking isn’t at all necessary. But as business people in the 21st century, we need to devote some reasonable amount of time to understanding the situations we are in and how we can manage them to produce measurable and positive outcomes.
Do You Use The Right Tools?
I know I’m making thinking and planning sound easy. It’s not. I recognize that. What can make it easier is finding the right tools to help you sort out your ideas.
In our company, we use a project management app called Basecamp to record and track projects – even in-house projects. For problems, issues and real catastrophes we use a ticketing app called Zendesk to track those events until they are resolved. And we use a time tracking app called Harvest to measure all of the time we spend working. These tools aren’t right for everyone and in fact, they aren’t right for every circumstance even for us, but having tools to help convert ideas from abstractions to actionable will go a long way towards optimizing your time.
Do You Have Accountability Sessions?
People are most motivated when they are accountable to someone else. Even the boss has accountability to someone. Figuring out these patterns of accountability and using them to encourage action is a great stimulator of action. The simple nuance of saying, “We have to execute our marketing well,” instead of, “We have to execute our marketing,” sets the tone that outcomes are just as important as execution. Find ways to make people accountable for their activities in positive ways and that will set the tone for better performance.
Do You Understand The Difference Between A Project And A To-Do?
Lots of people make to-do lists. I hate to-do lists. They are simplistic and don’t capture the essence of getting stuff done. Most things that need to get done aren’t a simple to-do, they are usually activities that require multiple steps. That’s a project, not a to-do. Not realizing this is why so many people have unchecked to-dos. If we all start thinking about the things we need to get done as mini projects, we’ll get more done and have more time to plan our marketing.
Ok. That’s it. Now go listen to the podcast.
Afterwards, let me know what you thought about my discussion with Mike.
If you need help with your marketing, give Mike or me a call. Sometimes one simple call can be a game changer.