Each month, John Bowman picks a new cool piece of technology that helps Customer Success Managers be more productive. We call it “Apps For Success” and in this review (#15) he takes a closer look at Google Calendar.
This month in Apps for Success we’re going to focus on getting things done, again! We’re talking about Google Calendar, or any calendar you use, really. Which tool you use isn’t important; what is important is that you treat your calendar as your command center.
We’re going to keep talking about Getting Things Done by David Allen. Last installment, I showed you how I used Google Keep as my Capture Tool. Google Keep is my container of lists, notes, and odd and ends. I trust it to contain everything I need to do and what my next action is for each listed project. It’s got clarified steps to do.
Remember, you’ve got the same brain a human did 200,000 years ago. Your brain didn’t evolve to be a knowledge worker or a Customer Success Manager. This is why having a Capture Tool like Google Keep is so important. You can’t trust your brain to keep track of everything you have to do. But a third party tool can be impartial and keep you honest.
Not only didn’t your brain evolve to be an impartial Capture Tool, it didn’t evolve to have an amazing sense of timing. You may have a vague notion there is something you should be doing right now, for instance. But there is no way to know for certain you currently working on what you should be working on - unless you planned it out.
Enter Google Calendar.
How do you know what you’re working on is the thing you should be working on right now? Easy, you planned it out. You reflected on what’s in your Capture Tool to see what you have to do. And you made a plan to engage with what you can when you can. In other words, you took a look at your week, saw your available time slots, and selected this specific timeframe to accomplish XYZ.
There is no other way to be intentional with your time.
I can’t stress this enough, there is no other way to be intentional with your time. If you want to start being a productivity beast, then you have to be intentional where you spend your time.
You have to put your time to work for you and plan out how you plan to knock off things from your lists. Ergo, your calendar becomes your command center. It is the most important tool in your productivity toolbox.
When you copy it with the act of reflection and a Capture Tool, it will make you into a productivity powerhouse: the mitochondria of your office.
Before we get to the app - just a quick word here - it’s important that your Capture Tool and your Engagement Tool work well together so you don’t have to do double entry.
I purposefully choose Google Keep and Calendar because they both are hosted in the cloud, have mobile apps, and work synergistically. At any time, from anywhere, I can access exactly what I should be working on and add to my to do lists. I can’t stress enough how awesome that is. It allows an even deeper level of trust in my Capture Tool I couldn’t have if I used a notebook. I’ll always have my phone on me, but I won’t always be carrying my notebook/calendar.
[Standard disclaimer here. I own no part of any of the apps for Customer Success Managers I’ll be reviewing in this column. The opinions contained in this review are mine and mine alone. SuccessHACKER is kind enough to lend me their microphone. If you happen to disagree, leave a comment and let me know! I love a good spirited debate.]
On to the app.
What do you like best?
First, it’s free. If you’ve been reading these articles for any period of time, you know I’m cheap and unashamed of that fact, haha. Google Calendar is completely free to use forever.
Next, I love there is one giant button that calls your attention to do exactly what you want to do: make an event. It keeps the creation of things simple and elegant. You can always add in more information if you need it, but putting on a quick event can’t be made simpler.
As I mentioned above, your digital calendar, like Google Calendar, is portable and always available to check.
Have you ever heard of L'esprit de l'escalier? That’s me, I’m constantly thinking of a great point or idea 2 hours too late (“The Jerk Store called…” anyone? Anyone?).
Having my phone on me allows me to capture the thought with a next action in Google Keep, and schedule out the timeframe in Google Calendar when I’m going to tackle my “huge” insight. Their portability means I can have those crazy thoughts while running, take a quick stop, write down the thought so I don’t lose it, and get back to exercise.
The final reason I love Google Calendar as a productivity tool for Customer Success Managers is the reminder feature. Like I mentioned in my tool review of Google Keep, the reminders alone make my life 10X more productive.
What do you dislike?
Notification fatigue is a real thing you need to guard against. Having a default notification timeframe will set you up for a lot of notifications through the day. You need to be disciplined about stopping what you’re doing and switching tasks.
I also don’t like that Google doesn’t have a public-facing booking link tool for my Google Calendar yet. It’s the one major feature that is missing for me.
What business problems does the product solve? What benefits have you realized?
Have you ever made a systematic plan to achieve a goal before?
If so, let me ask you this, have you put your milestones on your calendar and broken those milestones down into actionable 30-minute blocks of time to get stuff done?
If not, you should really try it. Even if you fall behind on what needs done, you will still be reminded to catch yourself up.
Calendars are so incredibly important for multi yearly, yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly planning, their importance cannot be overstated.
Literally every type of business problem which cannot be solved in a single sitting should have some time planning devoted to implementation, change management, and discipline. If it’s a multi-week project, and you aren’t devoting time to planning, then you’re doing it wrong.
Again, calendars are the only way you can be intentional with where you spend your time. You shouldn’t be like a sticky plastic toy rolling along a sidewalk picking up tasks willy nilly like dirt. Yes, there are going to be people who demand your time - both customers and internally. But you need to guard your command center to ensure it reflects reality and allows you to spend time on projects which matter most to you.
I love Google Calendar! If you need an app to plan out medium, large, and extra large projects, I know it can work for you because it works for me! There is a great synergy that happens when your Capture Tool regularly interacts with your calendar of choice. And you need to use your calendar to be intentional with your time if you want to be more productive.
If you didn’t like what I showed you here, could you put your calendar of choice in the comments and share what you like about it?
About the Author
John Bowman, Esq., is the Director of Customer Success at Jetpack Workflow. He is a rising star in the Customer Success community, leading the The Pittsburgh Customer Success Meetup and the Pittsburgh Gainsight Pulse chapter, as well as moderating the Customer Success Subreddit. John utilizes his 10+ years of professional experience to focus organizations on one goal: the customer's desired outcome.