Focus for Marketing Professionals

Focus for Marketing Professionals

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You’re a full stack marketer at a small company or startup. Your role requires you to manage, analyze, and translate various data feeds into insight and action on a daily basis. You’re naturally hungry for data and find check realtime stats and monitor progress throughout the day.

However, much like email and social media, monitoring real time data feeds can turn into an compulsive habit – one that wastes time and reduces productivity. On an average day at work, how many dashboards and services are you checking?

We’re a small team here at Freedom and as Director of Marketing, I’m building and managing every aspect of marketing that impacts customer acquisition & retention, content & communications, partnerships and brand.  Freedom is a consumer SaaS product and our customers are active 24/7 around the globe.

I recently noticed that if I allowed myself, I could spend a portion of each hour throughout the day, (not to mention at night,)  checking dashboards to feed my data hunger.

As we’ve built out our tools, systems, and scaled customers and revenue, I recently noticed that if I allowed myself, I could spend a portion of each hour throughout the day, (not to mention at night,)  checking dashboards to feed my data hunger.

Sound familiar?

Here’s just a few on my daily radar. Some of them I’ve consolidated into a dashboard at-a-glance solution, but they’re all still producing numbers, all day, every day: 

Marketing tools

How much time is spent looking at numbers?

After tracking my work habits for a few days, I determined that the time from those check-ins could add up to as much as two whole hours a day!  I noticed that in moments of flagging attention I’d often interrupt my ‘deep work’ to check various metrics, or to fill short time slots with busyness rather than productivity.

But with each data session diverting my attention and breaking my workflow, I found that I was losing a lot of time trying to refocus. 

These seemingly short diversions can take a major toll on productivity and focus. Studies have shown that on average it takes 23 minutes to refocus your attention once off task.

This behavior mimics the satisfaction and rewards loop of  social media. It’s a habit that leaves your brain craving the small dopamine rush from “likes”, alerts, messages, and notifications.  FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) makes us think that these little information bits matter, when in reality they just aren’t important right now.

Did I really need to be looking at all these data points throughout the day? Of course not – but my brain had developed the habit of craving numbers and thinking I was actively being on top of things.  

Data should underpin all of our actions. But the key is action.  

Data should always inform action

I don’t think I’m alone. As marketers in tech, I think we can become unhealthily addicted to our data, spending far too much time digging around in our tools just to see where things stand. It’s no more valuable than the distraction of social media, news, shopping… 

Because unless we’re doing something based on what we see on those dashboards, we’re just indulging a fleeting craving.

Data should underpin all of our actions. But the key is action.  

We create the most value for our customers and company when we’re freeing our brains to innovate and experiment and our time to execute: to create delightful products, know and serve our customers better, create content, and take risks. Being productive, predictive, positive. To quote Steve Jobs: “real artists ship.” Do something. Put it out in the world.

Because unless we’re doing something based on what we see on those dashboards, we’re just indulging a fleeting craving.

Set aside windows of time for dashboard checks

I may have an advantage in knowing and recognizing the problem: in my “other life” as a classical pianist and recording producer, there’s simply no other way to work than to be utterly and fully immersed. The only feedback comes from our ears, mind, heart, mentors and audience. No digital dashboards to report on how the Brahms trio is sounding.

But as a marketer, I operate in a digital world. In order to have more productive and creative time during the day, I’ve trimmed and focused dashboard reviews. It’s really pretty simple – I allow myself two “data windows” each day to monitor and review what’s going on:

  1. Early morning to see if there’s anything actionable from overnight (or the day before)
  2. An optional 15 minutes in late afternoon to see how the current day is progressing

And here’s the “eat your own dogfood” situation: for the rest of the time, I use Freedom to restrict my access to that big list above so I can eliminate the tiny doses of distraction, allowing for more uninterrupted, undistracted ‘deep work.’

Freedom users tell us in surveys that on average they gain more than 2 hours of productive time every day. I experience that first hand.

It’s a liberating feeling when your mind is deeply engaged and cooking with creative activity. It’s why being “productive” matters – not for your business and bottom line, but for your well being, generosity and ultimately, joy.

Any marketing professionals have similar experiences or challenges? Would love to hear how you think about it and some solutions you’ve found.