A quick word on deadlines

In his last column for us Jon Silk, director at Bite, urges marketers to ditch emails for face-to-face meetings

In more than three years of writing this column, I have only once sent it to the editor on time. I know this isn’t a great thing to admit, but it’s worth mentioning, as time management is such a problem for our industry.

Right now you’re probably reading this as quickly as possible, with half an eye on your email and another half on your to-do list. (Except you, Caroline. I know you’re reading this on the loo.)

In the time it took you to read the last sentence your email added something new to your to-do list. And your to-do list contains quite a lot of things that involve you emailing people.

Come to think of it – those two evil entities are probably conspiring to suck all the creativity and joy out of your bright marketing brain. You shouldn’t run your life by those two ever-growing lists. You’re better than that.

Banishing email
There are lots of things arriving on the scene to replace email. I use Quip to write, message people and groups, write and track my to 

dos and store documents. It’s a bit like Google Docs and Skype mixed together, with a sprinkling of DropBox and Apple Reminders.

I know Slack is growing quickly out of the development community and into business life as a project management and messaging tool, with its sights firmly set on the destruction of email. Basecamp continues to be a solid way to manage projects without too much email. With its recent integration into Windows, Skype is now taking a chunk out of work email too.

So there’s a boatload of tech that should help us cut down the time we spend communicating, right? I’m not sure it works like that 100 per cent of the time. In the last few minutes of writing this column, eight people have come over to ask me something. They didn’t ping me on Quip. I wasn’t Slacked or Skyped. Nobody visited Basecamp. They popped over.

Face-to-face is the way forward
This is where our entire time management tech falls down. Unless you’re a highly distributed, highly technical team, nothing will replace the good old-fashioned meeting.

‘I don’t have time for meetings’ you’re thinking right now. ‘My entire day is filled with meetings. I’m trying to get my work done.’

Yes, yes, I understand. But I also know what you’re dying to do right now. You’re desperate to get back to your email, in case something has been added to your to-do list. 

It’s time to break the cycle, and all you need to do is two things:

• Stop using email.

• Have more meetings.

You’re a marketer, so you’re inherently creative. Forcing yourself away from humans and towards endless lists of things will feel nice and cosy, but will actually dull your creative instincts and turn you into someone who lives for the transaction of an email rather than bouncing ideas off other people.

So cut yourself off from email, and book a meeting now. Don’t even create an agenda. Just pop out with someone for coffee. Have a chat and see where the conversation takes you. I guarantee you’ll have a better business idea than you would’ve had answering 100 emails.

Right, that’s my last piece of advice you’re going to get. If you need me, set up a meeting. (But make sure you message me on Quip, yeah?)