Time Management with Judy Dang of Avid at Work

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Time Management with Judy Dang of Avid at Work

I recently had the chance to sit down with Judy Dang from Avid at Work to talk about how she helps small businesses with time management and productivity through prioritizing and creating systems that create more time in their day.

(edited for publication)

Good afternoon. I am Mike Doherty and welcome to Understanding eCommerce. Today our special guest is Judy Dang from Avid at Work. Judy, how are you?

 I am happy to be here.

That’s a good start. Right? It’s quite early in the morning there, is it not?

It is here. Yes.

And for the rest of the world, anybody up at seven o’clock, but I think most of the world qualifies that is too early. So, you are the founder of Avid at Work. What is Avid at Work?

Avid at Work is a productivity coaching firm, and I focus on female “solopreneurs” and executives, how to help them, and achieve big goals without going bananas.

Where’s the banana? I know you have it there somewhere.

Big goals without going bananas; yeah, it’s possible to be successful, focused, and on top of things without sacrificing your health or burnout.

Interestingly, we always tell our clients that we know you’re busy, right? Because, as you know, startups as solo entrepreneurs, as small businesses, we inevitably wear numerous hats and do many, many different things. And I don’t have a whiteboard behind me, but it would be somewhat chaotic if I did.  It would look like yours, with millions of posted notes and lots of stuff going on: deadlines and clients sending emails like “Where is it?” So, how do you begin to help folks get organized?

The first step is getting clarity on a meaningful and successful life as an entrepreneur. Deciding on what is meaningful first, and then prioritizing goals around that definition. I have this sheet called a priorities dashboard. The priorities dashboard lists my high, then my medium, and then my Sunday goals. So I have high medium, and someday, I don’t have high, medium, and low because it should be even longer if it’s a low priority. But this Sunday bucket includes things to post on this idea like my book was in that bucket for a while, so, high, medium, and someday. And then there’s also a section at the bottom called “wins” and “celebrations.” And that’s super important because often, entrepreneurs are just nose to the grindstone getting things done, checking things off, and we don’t take time to acknowledge how far we’ve gone. The glass is usually always half empty. And so my celebrations bucket holds 20 or 30 projects I’ve completed this year. And I need that for myself because, as a perfectionist, acknowledging myself and celebrating my wins is not natural. It doesn’t come easy. So, I need that for myself. And I also often work with overachievers who just want to go into the next great thing.

I keep “to-do” lists, and there’s some satisfaction when you put the line through it. Of course, one less thing on the last graph and five things get added as soon as you do that.  But you know, you felt good for half a second while you took the one thing off, and that motivates us to keep going.

Do you have any hard fast rules? Like, don’t check your email in the morning? Do you have any rules like that, that you advise your clients?

Oh my god, I used to, okay? I used to have those kinds of rules. And then I just experimented on myself. It didn’t work for me; the hard and fast rules. Not everyone can do it. You shouldn’t expect your clients to do anything.

I used to teach a class and advocated checking email only twice a day.

No, that isn’t it. I tried that. It didn’t work. It does not work. My favorite advice about productivity, “Tips and Tools,” is whichever works for you. Some people can jump into something crucial first thing in the morning, and others can’t. They have jobs in which they need to be responsive. So, it’s not practical to have hard and fast rules.

Yeah. I find that, and I just realized what time it is; as I was about to say this, I discovered that I’m partially brain dead in the afternoon. So, I tend to do activities in the afternoon that don’t require any free thought, like apparently doing interviews.

Yes. So you discover that for yourself, suitable?

Yes. I need to bring this stuff in the afternoon. I can get things ticked off my to-do list that is sort of manual or rote. But I’m not going to be creative in the afternoon.

Yes. I’ve heard that. My marketing friend, Allison, does the same thing. The first three hours are her best hours for writing and thinking. And then after lunch, it’s the admin work.

And finally, I get to be productive, but it has to be stuff that’s sort of routine or automatic; just pushing it through, that kind of stuff. So, I have a crazy, crazy question for you. Is there such a thing as balance?

Is there such a thing as balance? You know, we hear about this elusive work-life balance.

What’s your opinion?

The term needs to be updated because it’s like a pie. Like a pie chart. It’s not a binary thing. It’s a piece of the pie. So here, I’ll show you what it looks like for me, kind of split. And so work is within life, not an either-or, right? And the second part of the balance is that the piece of the pie constantly shifts, depending on what’s happening in your life.

And people come to you because one of these is out of order? Like work is done in other quadrants or something?

Yes. Usually, their health is suffering. So this helps the suffering. For example, one of my clients, Carol, she’s spent like two hours a day on email. And she was responding to fires all day, and her work suffered, and she had to wait until after work to do her job. So, that meant that less sleep, less time with her family, no yoga, no swimming. So the health issue prompted her to reach out.

What were you able to do with Carol to adjust that?

First, very simple, we put lunch on her calendar so that no one can book time from 12 to one. Okay, that’s an essential thing. She’d never had lunch blocked out on her calendar, so other people’s meetings would get booked. ItSo itas the first thing blacked out.

And once she created this space on her calendar for lunch, did she genuinely have lunch? Or did she fill it with other activities?

She did. She genuinely did. And then the second thing was blocking out “thinking time” and “writing time” because she’s a department chair at a university and her role – the most important thing for her – is to be in thinking mode and strategizing mode and planning for the department, and not so much the tactics. So, putting in three hours a couple of times a week for teachers said was simple but super effective for care.

We do that with our clients because we do content development; we tell them you have to put it on the calendar; if you don’t, you will not make time for it. So, we very much follow that where I advise people to put it on the calendar for three hours on Friday morning. So, find a spot, but put it on the calendar, make sure it’s weekly, and make sure you’re dedicating some time and effort.

I want to hear about your experience. I struggle with that myself because I’m writing a book now. And I put on my calendar from 8 AM to 9 o’clock is “meeting with the book.” So that’s my writing time. And often, I want to jump into work at that time. And I’m 50% successful. And even though I have it on the calendar, I do other things. So the question would be, is the slot the time slot wrong?

It could be. Yes. It’s the first part of the day, so you’re worried about what might be sitting there. It could be the time slot is wrong. But, look! I’m giving YOU advice on how to do this.

I know because it’s been two months. Yeah. Okay.

So, what I tell my clients when that happens, it’s one of two things. It’s either the time slot is wrong, or they haven’t committed to having the time slot. But I think it’s both. So, those are different problems, like you said.  They could be overlapping. But if you can solve the time slot problem, that only leaves you, and you can figure out if you can solve that one because that’s a big one. But if you eliminate the other reasons why it’s not working, then it just comes down to you. And then you have to figure out if you want it bad enough to do it. Right?

Exactly. That’s a different matter. Thank you. So, it’s an experiment, and I will adjust my experiment and keep you posted.

Tell me a bit about how the last year and a half affected people’s productivity, especially working from home. And I mean, that’s a pretty dramatic shift for most people.

For folks in that category, 30 to 40% of the population are knowledge workers; who can work; this is whom we’re talking about. People who can work have jobs that they can do from home. I’ve seen research out of Microsoft that showed that productivity has gone up for some and down for others, up for some and down for others, up for people who have been in the company for a while and know their jobs, pretty steady, but down for new employees, down for working moms, down for people who have caregiving duties. It varies. The other interesting finding from the research was that people feel less connected to their peers and coworkers. Makes sense.

And in the beginning, companies would have meetings where they check in on their personal lives, like how are you doing? How’s the family? What are you doing for the weekend? And a study found that as the pandemic progressed, that person checked in less about that. And that was to the detriment of their relationships. So what have you found for you and your clients?

What we’ve found is a couple of things. The zoom environment, which we’re currently on, has many advantages, especially when it comes to networking. We used to go to in-person networking events, and that took the better part of a morning because a networking event took an hour, hour and a half, then you would tack on 30 to 45 minutes on either side to drive to the venue, find parking, do all that kind of stuff. So if I had a networking meeting, that was the morning activity on the calendar, like that was the only thing to happen. Now I would block out an hour and a half; you know what I mean? And sometimes without pants, but I’m genuinely logging into about three minutes before the meeting is supposed to start. So there’s been a tremendous amount of time-saving for that. But I can genuinely say that it doesn’t replace the in-person experience.

Here we are connecting. We are getting to know one another, but it’s different from sitting down across from somebody physically in person. It’s a different experience. It just is. As far as productivity, it is evident that my biggest challenge with it is productivity. I used to schedule my weekends where I would go somewhere. It was a different experience than the other five days of the week. Now, every day feels the same. Do you know what I mean? So, because we’re home all the time, I’m in front of the computer. So, I ended up working most days. I just went on vacation. So that was something that forced that, and we went out yesterday, on Sunday, and we’re out for the whole day, and I enjoyed being out for the entire day. But there’s still a part of me that thinks I didn’t get anything done today. And I’m thinking about that on a Sunday. Right?

So, I think those people you talked about, like the Blurred Lines of physically going to an office and having certain times when available. I think they’ve blurred considerably because now everyone’s always open. So, after all, as long as you can make a zoom connection, you’re available, right?

I think it’s both a good and a bad thing. And I think a lot of it will be due to personality. I enjoy networking, but I don’t necessarily need coworkers to get through my day. I don’t need to work at the water cooler chatter or anything like that. So I’m okay working this way. But I know other people get energy from that, especially if you’re doing a collaborative process, where it’s a creative process, being in a room together and having your whiteboard and physically putting the sticky notes up there and stuff like that. So it is a genuinely different experience than saying you’re chatting on zoom.

Yeah, there are benefits to both modalities, right? The time saving, Oh, my gosh, I appreciate the time savings. Yes, I was going to lunch in the middle of the day was like, you know, three hours for lunch. Last two Saturdays ago, I had a client meeting in person, a three-hour session, in person, we happen to be in the same city. Otherwise, it was a zoom. And it was nice, really nice to be able to go to the whiteboard and say, Is this what you mean? And can we move this? Post it down here? I could do it. I’ll do, but it is a different experience. Is it? Experts? And I’m glad now we have the option to do both, right?

Yes. We’re moving towards that more and more, hopefully. I don’t think we’re there yet. There are still some restrictions. Interestingly, many of our clients do conferences and not big events, and they’re a lot of them, and they aren’t ready to go back. They don’t feel comfortable in that environment. I was recently invited to an event that was available online. And generally, I would have gone in person since it was a local event. And since I have been vaccinated, I have proof, but they required you to have a negative test within 72 hours. So, that meant that before going to the event, I would have to get tested, and it was a four-day event. So, I would have to get tested again in the middle of the event. Alternatively, I could go online and participate. Okay, I thought, that’s easy. I’m going to go online, even though it was a local, physical event going on. I preferred and chose to attend online because I didn’t feel like getting tested twice, waiting for the results, and then taking those results and going through the whole sort of routine. So, just some kind of opted out and participated online. And because I attended online, I didn’t participate to the degree that I would have had if I had experienced it in person. I’m at a conference online, but I’m still checking emails, and not that all the speakers were compelling, or if it got a little slow, then I would go off and do something and, of course, clearly review stuff while looking at my email.

It is challenging to stay engaged. I think there are many benefits to being online, and I think that will continue, but I don’t think it replaces the person by any means. We have another productivity concern. A lot of people ask me which is paper or digital, right? It’s the same thing, like in-person or zoom. So, I use paper a lot. And I use my digital tools a lot. So, it’s both not either-or.

Yes, that’s probably going to come down to a personal preference.

Definitely, and the type of work one does the activity is, I think, is best with paper. And with the pencil, so they can take scribble notes. I read an article this morning that suggested that the physical act of writing helps with retention. So, if you’re trying to learn something, then take notes versus just watching something, a video, or having a conversation online. Interestingly, we then go back and work at the transcripts of these conversations because we clean them up and write them up a little bit. And, when I go back and listen to or read the discussion that we just had, I get so much more out of reading the transcript. Because when I’m having a conversation, I move on to the next thing. For example, I don’t remember what you said two minutes ago, those types of things. So, it’s interesting that so much of the lack of retention in this environment just doesn’t exist. But going back and reading it, I realize we talked about many cool things. I just remembered the last five things we said because the rest just went away.

After a while, exactly. So, I’m not opposed to digital tools to do all this planning. I use Asana myself for a lot of the tactics. But my posted board here is for the big picture.

So what are some of those items on your Asana digital board as well?

The tactics of the day-to-day stuff are in Asana. And then the big picture, this is my 12-week plan. And I like to look at 12 weeks out, all simultaneously, to see, for example, “this week I have a vacation,” which means that the week before and the week after has to be lighter.

I noticed you just moved something. So what happens when something falls off the board?

Occasionally they do fall off. They lose their stickiness. But, fortunately, I can kind of remember approximately where it goes. And the great thing about the stickiness is that this particular week, there are way too many posts at this time of year. And I recognize that usually. So the space for each week is intentionally sized so that there could only be like two or three posts. That’s intentional.

Do you have a project management background? That sounds like the Kanban board. What I mean is that it is a work in progress, right?

Yes. I prioritize this particular week, and it is especially full; anI recognizes that October is pretty packed for me. And so I know that in November it’s going to be a lot emptier.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It is a good thing. But, on the other hand, recognize that things go in waves, and things ebb and flow rates constant for you. So, for example, do you have different periods in the year for you and your clients?

Yes. Q4 is always busy. Because what happens is a lot of people realize that they need to spend their budgets. So, all of a sudden, they’re like,” Oh, we need to get stuff done.” So, hopefully, we can agree to a contract and then work on it in the next two quarters, but if they have to have it done, Q4 is always crazy.

But for us, it’s crazy in the US up until about Thanksgiving, and then everything gets quiet from Thanksgiving through the holiday season. And then I’m sure, as your business people wake up on January 1, and think, “Oh, I should rethink my whole life because it’s January 1. Right? I’m going to make all these big changes. And I need Judy to help me because I’m not organized. Right?

Yes. There is January 1, just like with the gym. It’s the same.

I love the gym. Because the first week is crowded, the second week is still kind of crowded, but things go back to normal by the third week.

It doesn’t take long. And so, my advice for New Year’s resolutions is don’t wait until January 1. If you want to get healthier or be more organized, start in December.

I have a different approach to that. So, having lived in the Bay Area and San Francisco, I have embraced Chinese New Year’s. And what I call Chinese New Year’s is your second chance.

Yes, right. Because you blew off the first resolution you had for January 1, Chinese New Year’s is typically when? Mid-February to March timeframe? Because it moves, but yeah, January or February. Is that about right?

And then, looking at 2022, it’s February 1. It was early this year. But first, I always call Chinese New Year’s your second chance. So, all the resolutions that you screwed up in January have another shot. So use the Chinese New Year. I’m not going to plan. I have my backup, which is the Chinese New Year.

Exactly. Yes. Cool. February 1, 2022.

There’s a movie, and it’s an ensemble cast. I’m trying to think of the different people, n it, but the main character has to do something, and he is going to perjure himself in court. Right? So he goes to court. And he ends up perjuring himself because he’s trying to do something. And the whole scene ends. And then his girlfriend comes in, and she says, “look around.” And it turns out to be a studio set. So, he has not yet perjured himself because he has not been in the actual courtroom. And she says, you needed to get that out of your system, and you now have a second chance to do the right thing.

You got to put the movie title in the notes when you remember it. (the movie was State and Main)

But just the whole idea that sometimes you need to get it out of your system. And second chances are great. So, my New Year resolves to use the Chinese New Year for the second resolution to get you another start. But, of course, some of us can always use the second start. Right?

Exactly. And it doesn’t matter that you fell down the first time to get back up.

Exactly. Because speaking of similar things, such as habits. There’s a typical belief, a number that we see, and let me ask you. How long does it take to establish a habit?

I’m quoting some report or something like that, but I believe it’s 21 days.

Right. That’s what most people believe, and it’s no, it’s not 21 days, the range. Oh my gosh, the range is huge. And this is research by Professor Wendy Wood. The range is anywhere between 18-241 days.

How do you end up on either side of that range? Is there any sort of indicator?

Well, it’s the type of habit. And I was misquoted. Professor Wendy Wood did not research it’s by someone else, and it’s in her book. When Wendy wrote about the study, it ended around 254 days. So it depends on the type of habit. If it is something similar, like drinking water every day, it’s going to be pretty simple. But if it’s quitting smoking, it could be a pretty wide range.

I’ve just slandered poor Wendy for no particular reason. God knows she’ll never see this, but we’re good. So why do people come to you? What are their biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge is not spending their time the way they want. So we help prioritize goals to figure out where they should be spending their time.

What’s in the way? What are the obstacles, and sometimes it’s themselves, right?

Sometimes it’s themselves, like perfectionism, or they know how to say no until their schedules are full. So, I discovered it was something exciting. During my journey in coaching, I first thought it was just going to be simple tactics like: “here, let me show you how to schedule your day, time block, and prioritize.” I’m discovering that there’s a lot under the skin stuff, like head trash; I guess you could call it that about not knowing how to say no,

I know that my best productive moments are avoiding doing something else.

Right. Procrastination. I know I should be working on this particular project, but I’ll do these other 20 things instead to justify not working on that product or project or something. And I feel very productive. But of course, the project I need to work on is not getting anything done or accomplished.

And do you have a sense of what you’re avoiding exactly?

Oh yes. I mean not that we don’t all love our clients, but it could be not loving the client that decides what they want, but I don’t necessarily agree with it, but we still have to implement it the way they want it, fine. However, since I’m not particularly embracing the decision, I’m not in a big hurry. Right?

So, there’s always some underlying reason why I don’t want to do something. But, I mean, it will get done, and I also do well when there’s an imminent deadline.

Yes. External accountability. That’s common.

Your tagline is we help women achieve big goals without going bananas. Why do you like working with women versus men? Will you not work with guys? Tell us about that.

I have a few male clients. I like working with them. It’s a different experience. It’s just that more women than men come to me.

I’m assuming they have very different styles regarding time management.

Yes. It would be best to address some things with women, such as feeling guilty for saying no. I see that more in women than in men, but it takes the external accountability piece, which everyone appreciates. I think that you’ll find that males tend to delegate more, whereas women aren’t as comfortable delegating.

What do you think about this idea that sometimes men want to ask for help but don’t know how to ask it?

Men are less likely to admit they don’t know what they’re doing. So, part of asking for help is admitting that you don’t see what you’re doing. So, by default, yes, they’re less likely to ask for help because they’re less likely to want to admit it. So, for example, they won’t ask for directions in the car because they just can’t. But, on the flip side, they feel less uncomfortable with issues regarding delegating things and passing things on.

In contrast, a female may look at another coworker and not want to delegate something because they see that that coworker is already busy. And they don’t want to add to that person’s plate. However, the male coworker thinks, “as long as it’s off my plate, what do I care?”

So tell me, as a marketing expert, can I reframe my messaging to address that? The typical male tendency to not admit they don’t know what they’re doing?

That’s tricky. Because you have to sort of acknowledge it without calling them out, right? Because you can’t accuse them of that, but you have to sort of do it. It’s tough because it also depends on your culture or whatnot. But you know, many people don’t want to admit that they need help. So you have to find other ways to offer it to them.

Indirectly? Is it more aspirational? Instead of talking about the pain, talk about that aspiration?

No. I think it’s more that you have to solve the problem without addressing the issue. You don’t want to hurt their ego, but they still need a resolution; they still need to solve a problem. So you need to find a messaging that resonates. One of the things that we are very big on, which we like a lot, is understanding their voice and what they would say and ask. So we will develop user personas, and, obviously, the male user persona, we would interview males. And we would say when you have this problem, what do you look for? And then, we would do a similar interview with female candidates and ask them the same questions. And you’ll find they use very different language. So what you need to do is you need to hear their language and, in marketing, you need to repeat that language, because the marketing should always be in the language that they’re using.

Not the language of the practitioner,

Right, because as a practitioner, you use acronyms and industry jargon. And as a user, who’s looking for these resources, we may not. So, it’s essential to understand what we’re looking for. And you may find something as basic as “I just want to find more time in my day.” And that’s the messaging that you would give back to them, such as how to create more time in your day. So you want to sort of find the language and the verbiage that they’re using when they’re trying to figure out this problem.

Okay. The language and the verbiage to ask.

Yes. Cool. One of the pieces that I heard that I use in my marketing is to get your weekends back.

And is that something people have expressed that they want?

Yeah. Such as, “I’m tired of missing out on my friends’ and family’ events.” So, one of the things that you have to be careful about, and this comes back to being familiar with Tim Ferriss’ “Four Hour Workweek” book. He’s written a book, he’s made lots of money off of it, but I don’t believe for a moment that Tim Ferriss works four hours a week. And I don’t think that anyone who’s ever read this book has been very successful. But he is selling a dream. Right? I was at a conference numerous years ago, a long time ago, and he was the keynote speaker. And I’m pretty sure it was around the time that the book had just come out. And I thought, “never. I’m never going to work four hours a week. It just it’s not going to happen.” So these are things in marketing that we have to be very careful about, such as addressing what the clients want. But it has to be realistic. Right? And he’s done very well. And I’m not, by any means, suggesting whatever he’s writing isn’t whatever it is. But I was never buying into the four-hour workweek. I never thought I would be a successful entrepreneur, based on four hours. I mean, I get there’s a whole system to what he’s trying to do and stuff like that. I never for a moment, and I read a lot of his stuff, as well as a lot of his follow-up stuff, which means he’s busy. So, he’s not working four hours a week; he’s busy producing stuff, right?

Yes. So, be careful with that aspirational dream? Like over-promising. So, you don’t want to promise them their weekends back if what you’re offering them doesn’t accomplish that, right?

Yes. Because we have, and I’m sure there’s a much better marketing term for this, but we have detectors, and when we hear something we don’t believe, we automatically discount that as an option. So, if you are trying to sell me something and I honestly don’t think it, I will never buy that. So, I believe that you can tell people your offering is realistic.

In marketing, we get a ton of get-rich-quick solutions, which state will make you the king of Facebook with this solution or this is what you need that will make your e-Commerce business soar; and it’s a get-rich-quick scheme and, inevitably, it doesn’t work. So it has some value and some merit to it, but it’s not the single solution. It’s part of a bigger solution, and it probably takes time, as you suggested; the change in habit can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days, depending on what you’re doing. So you have to understand the frequency and all that type of stuff, such as the language they’re using to search for what they’re looking for. And then make sure that you give that back to them, something they can believe.

So, it’s twofold: using their language and then offering something they have to believe they can achieve because it’s possible that somebody can read Tim’s book and be very successful at four hours a week. Maybe there’s an audience, or people want to know that, but I never believed that. So, it didn’t resonate as a marketing message because I didn’t think that was something based on my own experience, something that I would embrace and happen for me. So, it would be best to give them something they can achieve, but they have to believe they can achieve it. So, like the claim I’ve seen with me for going into this book-writing project. I’ve seen classes that say write your book in 30 days. So, I’m like, “really? Be published in 30 days; that kind of stuff.

This is the fun of doing things live. So, when you see “write your book or be published in 30 days,” what’s your response? Skepticism? Are you likely to buy that program?

No. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t think it was possible.

And it may very well be possible, but you didn’t believe it was possible for you. So, that’s why I said you not only have to use their language, but it has to be something that they believe that they can achieve.

Yes. Cool. Thank you.

Are you familiar with smart goals?

Yes. S-M-A-R-T. What’s the R?

Realistic. So, if you’re helping them develop something, and this is a goal, it has to be a SMART goal for them, and part of it has to be realistic. Can they achieve this?

Yes, for sure. We can get demoralized.

So, they don’t buy the system because they have to believe that SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic. So, those are the two things that you would need to overcome, the attainable and realistic, and the belief that it’s achievable and realistic.

Yes, by them, not by you because you could probably get them there, but they have to believe in it and that it’s achievable, and that it’s realistic because there are probably people who can write a book in 30 days, but for you, it didn’t feel that was achievable. And you didn’t think it was realistic, so you didn’t buy the program. So, that’s the other part of the marketing message. It has to be a smart goal. So, I bought the program that was five months.

Did you think that it was achievable in five months?


Did you think that was a realistic time frame?


And they were probably in the introduction of the course. There are probably things that sort of demonstrated that it was measurable. It’s such a basic concept, but I go back to the SMART goals, all the time achievable and realistic.

Yes. We’re marketing folks, but our background is in project management because of many of our projects or products. So, we go back to project management. We use agile principles. We use waterfall principles, but we rely on the SMART goals because people believe they can be successful. We buy things that are pipe dreams. I buy a lottery ticket every once in a while, and I understand that it’s not likely achievable or realistic, but I think considering the amount of money I spend on it. I think it’s a fun activity right, but I’m not buying the lottery ticket expecting to stop working because I have a lottery ticket in my pocket. As you suggested, I know some people will buy into the big hype, but most people will add a dose of skepticism to it.

So, if you’re going to sell to people, those are the ones that you have to convince because there’s so much hyperbole in marketing, and that’s why it falls on deaf ears.

Yes. Right. Your message has to differentiate, and it has to resonate. I have to believe that the realistic and achievable.  Unlike the ones that don’t draw attention like those zingers, like write your book in 30 days, or lose 10 pounds in 10 days. They don’t attract attention because, if I’m guessing, a majority of your clients are word of mouth, right?

 So, you’re not using that type of language when you’re talking with the people that have been introduced to you by a third party that you both know, right? You’re not making the big claims, so you’re not selling that way anyway. You’re selling “what we can achieve,” “here’s what we can do together,” and here’s why you can be an accountability partner. Here’s how we can really move you from point A to point B what you want to understand from the marketing perspective. It’s not supposed to be about what you want to know from the marketing perspective. How can you differentiate from all the other people that solve that? One of the big ways of differentiating is not over-promising like I’ll give you back “X” number of hours in your day. It’s more like, “I just want to be more organized. I want to get things done. I want to feel less stressed,” those types of things.

Who’s a successful client that you’ve had? What did they achieve that made it a success for them?

That one client, Carol, did get back time from her schedule; more time for herself, and she’s calmer. So she says she’s not behind all the time.

Does she now have a system?

Yes, time blocking. So, the system helps her develop those outcomes. So, it was about creating a system that she could follow, that anybody could follow, to organize, get on track, to track what you have on the whiteboard behind you because it gives you a visual representation of your schedule. You can look at the fact that October’s a busy month, and then you don’t take on new things, or you postpone them to another month. That visual allows you to manage your workload. So, that’s a tool that you’ve used that’s helped you and let you manage your time, and that’s, I’m assuming, that you’re a big advocate for the whiteboard when you work with your clients.

Yes. You know you’re giving because you’re offering them tools and giving them resources to help out. You mentioned Asana. So, how much of what you do includes recommending digital tools for many of your clients? You mentioned the digital versus paper issue earlier. Do you try to move them onto digital, or does it depend on the client’s situation? For entrepreneurs who need to share their projects with other people.

You need to have a shareable platform because if you write it on a piece of paper, how will your team know what your tasks are? And that’s also, I think, one of the other things about the remote work is. I can’t hand the paper to anybody anymore. So, I have to send it digitally. So, I might as well create it digitally unless I want to create it and then scan it, but for the most part, I would say 90% of what we’re doing these days is digital, just by the fact that everything’s remote. I could write a memo and then pass it out in the office, but now I’m emailing it instead.

And actually, Asana cuts down on email because I don’t have to email back and forth questions or comments about organization and stuff. It all stays in Asana. So, I don’t have to scroll through the inbox just to find what I need.

The biggest challenge we face with multiple clients is that they’re all on different platforms. So, you have to have clients who love Google drive since everything we do is on Google drive. And then we have clients who love WhatsApp, so they send everything on WhatsApp, and they communicate on WhatsApp. It’s funny. I was looking at my phone ring the other day, and I just kind of stared at it; like, what’s that noise because nobody calls. I never get a phone call, so it’s like I was just here to tell a marketer nobody calls me. So, the biggest challenge is we tend to be on multiple platforms. We do have clients who are in Asana. They have other project management tools, and we try hard to move clients onto our platform, and then like push back and say, “no. We want to work here, and we have to accommodate that, but we are big. We do like the digital tools whenever possible because it just it really; especially when you have numerous versions going back and forth, and you need version control, and you need to control who’s making edits, and when they did them so that you’re not editing three versions ago.

Oh my god, yes, so those times the big benefit.

What closing piece of productivity time management gem do you have for me? No pressure. 

Gem?  I think the first thing I think about is to know yourself. Know yourself just like you helped me with the time slot for my writing. It’s not eight to nine AM. So, knowing that I struggle is in external accountability, not saying no. So, I think it starts with self-awareness.

Well, Judy, we very much appreciate your time. Judy Dang from Avid at Work, which I believe is also evidentwork.com


There you go. See? She’s prepared. She knew that was coming, and I didn’t prompt that, so, congratulations we appreciate your time. Thank you very much for joining us. Thanks for your insights, and we would love to have you back.

The sequel. Let’s do the sequel.

By then, I may have finally remembered the movie that I can’t seem to remember. Thank you, Judy, super fun.

Thank you, Mike

Time Management with Judy Dang of Avid at Work