Menu

Productivity

Moving Commercial Props Around the Office

Anatomy of a Successful Day

I’m not going to hit you with inspirational quotes about productivity, I’m sure you have seen them all. While a clever, Instagrammed saying about getting things done is easy enough to post to Facebook with an emphatic “Truth!” as your only comment, what really will help you get ahead is managing your time well, perhaps even creating a time budget. (BTW, that’s not me in the picture at the top…it’s the amazing @BrandonHeidt moving giant MONOPOLY prop pieces around the office).

I decided to share with you what a successful day looks like for me. Although I tend to follow patterns, each day does differ a little, but this is what an ideal day is for me.

5:30am – Alarm goes off. I throw on a robe and go downstairs to make breakfast (3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk, 1 piece of dry whole-wheat toast, 1 Sugar Free Rockstar, 1 piece of fruit)

5:45am – Review banking and stocks.  Anything that needs to change by the opening bell? Set up the order if so.  1st look at email, and reply to anything that is time-sensitive (note: while some people choose to sleep with their phones by their bed, I think this is destructive to natural rest patterns. I don’t check email at night, and wait until I am out of my room and downstairs to start in the morning).

6:30am – Go on morning bike ride. Distance will vary depending on morning schedule, but usually 20 to 40 miles.  It might be tough to get going, but after the fact, I have never regretted starting my day with exercise. Sometimes I listen to music, but usually I don’t and prefer to be with my thoughts while biking around the Santa Monica Mountains.@RideCannondale

9:00 am – Sitting at desk, review reports from client accounts that were created overnight. Anything that I need to take action on right away? If so, execute or assign the task.  I also open up my to-do list that I created in Word from the prior day, and prioritize as necessary. Review personal social networks (usually Facebook, Twitter and Strava) and post anything I feel is necessary, then close them. (I think that leaving personal social networks open is like sleeping with your phone next to your bed…it creates an artificial sense of urgency and anticipation that is destructive to normal work flow).

9:00am to 12:30pm – Morning work. I don’t allow my email to pop-up or chime, which breaks up creative flow, but I do check it at regular intervals.

12:30pm to 1:00pm – Usually I take a short lunch, and will eat at my desk or take a walk outside. I use this time to call my wife and say hello, or catch up on personal business. If we have a client or staff lunch planned, obviously I take more time.

1:00pm to 5:30pm – Check email and social networks again upon returning from lunch. Review and execute client requests. Check in with Singley + Mackie employees, answer questions, help with strategy or execution of campaigns. I get a lot of work done in the afternoon, and this is typically when most requests come in.

5:30pm to 8:30pm – Family time. With four kids, every night is different, but it usually involves helping with homework, doing something with soccer and eating dinner with everybody at the table. Our entire family sits down for dinner together at least 5x per week, but usually we manage all 7 nights. It’s important that I focus on my family during this time, so I usually will not have my mobile phones or tablets with me unless a mission-critical project is being launched.

8:30pm to 8:45pm – Final check on email. If something needs attention I do it, otherwise, it’s time to shut the computer off.

9:00pm – Time for bed! Read a book (fiction, not business) to settle my mind, and get a good night of sleep. I always try to get enough shut-eye at night, the alternative can be very bad.

I cannot tell you that every day happens like this. In fact, the ability to be nimble and change depending on business or family needs is something that I strive for. If a client needs something important and it’s not in my “normal” work schedule, they will get it. If one of my kids calls me in the middle of the day because they are sick and need to be picked up from school, I will stop what I am doing and go get them. If my wife wants to have a spontaneous lunch date, I jump at the opportunity.

However, the bottom-line is this: a schedule can drastically increase productivity by cutting out distractions. Stay in the moment of what you are doing and who you are with instead of being anxious about what is next. Regular exercise and plenty of sleep will prepare you for the crazy and the unexpected, and will certainly keep you sharp for the everyday and the ordinary.

The Best Time To Start Is Today

That thing that you have been meaning to do, but haven’t started? I want to let you know that the best time to start it is today.

The business plan you want to write up? A daily exercise routine? A new app idea? A blog about your passion? Every day you will convince yourself that there are dozens of reasons that you cannot start today. It’s too overwhelming. It’s too hot (or cold) outside. It’s too hard to explain. You’re too busy. You review your mental list of why you have to put it off until tomorrow or next week, then move on with your day.  The thing is, you have been intending to do it “tomorrow” for the last several months…or even the last several years.

Don’t let that mental list of reasons of why you can’t get in your way. Figure out what the very first step is and do it. You don’t need to complete it today, you don’t even have to get very far with it today. But you should start it today.

Now, close Twitter and Facebook and take the first step. Today is the best time to start.

Creating A Time Budget

Time Flies!You can tell your friends that you aren’t doing as well as you could with your business because you don’t have as much money as your competitor.  That may be true.

You can convince yourself that the reason you’re not the best in your industry is because you don’t have as many employees as the other guys. That may be true also.

You can even try to explain to those around you that if you had gone to this school or that, or if you had only acted upon your gut way back when, you would be ahead of the game right now. Again, this might be accurate.

The one thing you cannot hide behind, however, is lack of hours in the day.  You are given the same as everybody else.  In this area, nobody can out pace you or buy more than you, we all work with the same 24 hour clock.  It’s what you do with that time that is important.  I’m telling you this because it’s something I have to remind myself of almost every single day…I am bombarded by emails, phone calls, content calendars, sweepstakes rules, legal department hurdles, Facebook advertising optimization and a hundred other things every day.  When you add to it the fact that I actually like spending time with my family at home (yes, all four kids), I realize that it would be very easy each and every day to complain that I don’t have enough time.

That’s a ridiculous complaint, however.  I do have enough time, I have just as much as you do, and my competitors have just as much as all of us.  Instead of praying for a 28 hour day, it’s time to accept the fact that we all need to work with 24 hours; so more isn’t the answers, but efficiency and prioritization are.  It may be time for you to make a  “time budget”.

Continue reading

What You Need Is Right In Front of You

social media helps you find what customers want

Sometimes what you need to help you make decisions is right in front of you, you just don't want to see it.

You Just Can’t See It. Or you don’t want to see it.

Over the roughly two decades that I’ve been involved with business, either as an entrepreneur, an executive director or a social media strategist, I’ve heard the same frustration voiced over and over again, in almost every market I’ve worked in.  After hours, weeks or sometimes months of seemingly endless meetings, late-night war room strategy sessions and presentation after presentation of focus group reports, eventually the people in charge of making the decisions for the direction of an organization bury their face in their hands and declare in frustration and defeat, “if only we knew what everybody wanted from us, we could just give it to them“.

This has applied to product development, marketing campaigns, service implementation…anything and everything a company (for profit or not) could possibly put together to offer a group of people.  “If only we could find out what our customers want…

Studies are ordered.  Thousands of dollars…or millions…are spent on consultants and burned up in labor hours.  When the senior management team meets to discuss, debate and dissect the data, 20% of the organization’s labor dollars are being paid out for each hour they cannot figure out what their audience wants.  At some point or another, late into the night, one of the people around the tables feels the frustration of a seemingly insurmountable task.  They want to be home with their family, they want to get back to the work they were hired to do instead of trying to figure out puzzles…they want to solve the mystery of how to move forward.  But how? And then the idea is presented:

We should try social media. I know we already have a Facebook and Twitter page, but instead of just posting something once a week, why don’t we ask the people that follow us what they want, and then listen to them? Also, why don’t we pay for a monitoring service so we know what people are saying about us and even our competitors? People are already telling us what they want, we just need to listen, reply and implement”

The silence only last for a moment, before a chorus of “we will lose control of the message” and “we can’t create a forum for negative comments” starts. The boss makes an expression that is a combination of fear and patronization and simply says, “that’s too risky, we’re not doing it” before starting a discussion about when the best time to meet again will be to tackle this impossible chore.

Sometimes what you need is right in front of you, you just can’t see it…or worse yet, you don’t want to see it.

If You Want To Succeed You Cannot Be Afraid To Fail

Matt Singley at the 2010 Nautica Malibu Triathlon

I managed to put a smile on my face before the 2010 Nautica Malibu Triathlon, but on the inside I was truly scared about what was ahead.

“There is no failure except in no longer trying. “

~ Elbert Hubbard

Failure and success…the two really do go hand in hand.

In business, innovation rarely comes without taking risks. Risks rarely are taken if the thought of failure is too great an obstacle. Failure as an obstacle is usually the result of being told, either directly or indirectly, that to fail is to be weak, to be threatened, to be insecure.

I say that you cannot truly succeed if this is the environment that you exist in.

Continue reading

Microsoft and Facebook Join Forces To Take On Google Docs

Yesterday, Facebook’s F8 conference created quite a wave of buzz when they announced the release of the Open Graph API. Personally, I’m very excited about this from a marketing point of view. But, there was another announcement that was just as exciting to me that didn’t get nearly the same coverage as Open Graph: Facebook and Microsoft have become unlikely bedfellows, rolling out the new Docs.com site.

The short version: a personalized document sharing site that lets you create, upload and share Office files with your Facebook friends. I haven’t seen a more obvious shot across the bow of Google Docs, and I think this site will only pick up speed as more people discover it.

The site is slick and simple, with headers that will let you see your docs, your friends docs, or add a new doc. The “Add a Doc” section offers to ways to share: either you can upload an existing document from your computer, or you can create a new document using the online version of Word, Excel or PowerPoint.

Continue reading

6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Yourself

This is part 6 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here ,part 4 “The Channels” is here and part 5 “Other Professionals” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Yourself

I bet you weren’t expecting that one, were you? Let me explain what I mean by this: simply put, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and you need to know your work flow and financial needs; this is especially true if you are consulting. Since most of us actually do know our strengths and weaknesses, maybe a better way to word this is be honest with yourself.  I saw a quote online recently that really rang true with me. Unfortunately I haven’t always followed it.

Work for full price or work for free, but don’t work for cheap.

As I applied that to many situations in the past that I have had to deal with, I see how true this is.  I could probably write an entire series of posts about why this is so important, but for now I’ll just let you ponder it and apply it to your own situation. In knowing yourself, you need to be honest with what your needs (or those of your organization) are, because sometimes…no matter how much you need the work…it’s better to say no to a project.  

Continue reading

6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Client

111-social networksPart 1 of 6

Over the years I’ve run a lot of social media programs, sometimes for companies or services that I own or manage, sometimes for organizations that have hired me to consult or drive their efforts in the various online communities.  This article is primarily aimed at those that do the latter, although several points can apply to the former.  That is to say, if you are a consultant or work at an agency whose primary focus is running social programs for somebody else, I’m writing this for you.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Continue reading

My New Role In Social Media Marketing and Strategy

logo-v1Those of you that have been following my adventures for a while know that I put my heart, soul and mind into social media.  Since writing my own blogging platform a decade ago (the billion dollar idea that I never capitalized on…) to my almost-obsessive fascination with brand interaction on channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, I am constantly observing and strategizing ways to make the interaction and engagement between companies and customers better through social media. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of years consulting businesses of all types and sizes regarding their engagement (or lack thereof) within these online communities.  From Fortune 100 companies that distribute hardware all around the world to non-profit agencies that are doing their best to make a difference in the world, I have worked with groups to lend insight, support, ideas and action to social media programs. Given all of that, I’m quite pleased to announce that I have taken a new role within the industry.

Continue reading

Virgin America Gets It

virgin_america_logoIf you spend a lot of time traveling and need to operate your office on the go, I hope you have taken time to read my post about operating a mobile office.  Just as important as having the right tools to do your job is the ability to use those tools, and if you are a frequent traveller you know how difficult this can be, especially on airlines.  Usually your work needs to be done offline which presents a problem if the very nature of your work involves online interaction, like mine does.  The days of being stuck drafting replies to emails is behind, Virgin America Airlines is changing the game and they’re doing it well. The list of amenities includes on board wifi, easy check-in, and a great food and beverage selection; not to mention that they are typically the least expensive airfare available!

Continue reading