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How to use your calendar to boost your marketing productivity

Anyone who’s ever worked with me or for me knows that I’m not particularly fond of meetings. Especially if they’re unproductive. I’m the kind of guy that’s always asking for a few minutes back towards the end of a meeting if we’ve already worked through all of the key agenda items. I also encourage my direct reports to cut meetings short or cancel them altogether if there’s no productivity to be had.

I find that even at the enterprise level, a quick and informal five-minute chat can be just as productive – if not more so – than 30 minutes of a formal “go through the motions” staff meeting.

So what’s an enterprising digital marketer to do? After all, we know that meetings are an unavoidable part of corporate life and that those dreaded calendar invites are never going to stop showing up in your inbox, right? Well I think that I have found a few ways to leverage that very calendar program to help boost my actual marketing output and so I figured I’d share them with you.

Here are some of the most effective ones I’ve stumbled across thus far:

  • Schedule shorter meetings – I’m probably a bit on the extreme side and have been known to send out invites for five minute meetings (seriously) but it’s ok if you’re not ready to be that bold. What you can do is schedule 15 minute meetings instead of the typical 30 to 60 minute time slots. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can cram into a 15-minute segment when you condition yourself and your colleagues to work within that time constraint.
  • Replace your “To Do List” software with your calendar – For years, I use Outlook’s Task Manager application to manage my to-do list because it was great for prioritizing items as well as setting up recurring tasks. I also dabbled with awesome apps like Evernote. Eventually, I figured out that I could simply use my Outlook calender in the same manner (e.g. for scheduling to-dos) and this provided an additional and very subtle advantage. Adding just a few key recurring tasks made my calendar look busier and discouraged folks from booking too many meetings with me. And this is a beautiful thing because the truly necessary meetings that have real business value are still scheduled while those fluff meetings end up being sent my way less frequency. Mind you, I’m not out to intentionally deceive colleagues. Lying is not cool. It’s just that at the end of the day those time slots represent my time and I value my time greatly. The to-dos I add to my calendar represent real work deliverables that typically drive measurable business value and so I don’t feel bad about booking up those slots.
  • Set long-term goal reminders – It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I get a good idea. Unfortunately, I can’t always act on the idea right away due to competing priorities. Instead of jotting them down on a post-it note or letting slip away into the background of my consciousness I set a calendar reminder on a date in the not-so-distant future and this helps ensure that said idea doesn’t fall through the cracks. The same goes for keeping tabs on an emerging technology or a cool up-and-coming vendor I don’t have time or budget for at the present time.
If you’re like me, you actually love and have a real passion for the work that you do. Therefore, you’d rather spend less time in a conference room or on a conference call and more time making the needle move.
Ironically, that very technology that brings all those time-suck meetings your way can also be a weapon in your productivity and marketing ROI arsenal.


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  • Miguel Salcido

    Great tips! I’ve used tips 2 and 3 extensively over the years and they work brilliantly! Especially blocking off your calendar, that is a veteran tip there! I worked at an agency that literally chocked people with meetings all day. So I quickly had to learn to mitigate all of the unnecessary meetings. And I too have used both Outlook tasks and calendar to manage to do lists. Again, works great and the best part is that you can see all the work you need to get done in parallel with meetings and other appointments.

    • hugoguzman

      Very cool! Glad to hear other pros are doing similar things. One of my twitter pals Casie Gillete just mentioned another really good one: walking meetings (also known as “let’s walk and talk” as you head off towards an actual scheduled meeting).

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  • Smallbiztrends

    Good advice, Hugo!

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks Anita! Means a lot coming from you.