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How to Stay Productive

by Alison Battisby

Posted on Jul 24, 2020

Working as a social media consultant can mean spontaneous changes to your to-do list. In this episode on Productivity, Alison Battisby of Avocado Social shares thoughts with host Will Francis on running a small business with your spouse, dealing with distractions when they're part of the job, the blur between clients and personal on WhatsApp, the benefits of booking yourself a facial, and why she has notifications turned off on her phone.

The full transcript is available below.

Staying Productive while running your own company

(recorded March 5th 2020)

Will: Welcome to "Ahead of the Game," a podcast brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute, giving you insights from industry experts to supercharge your marketing skills. Today is the Modern Mindset where we explore those soft skills that are so vital to developing your career, and this episode is all about productivity. I'm Will Francis and I'll be talking to Alison Battisby, a social media consultant and trainer who runs her own business flying around the world training clients and generally being a very busy person. So let's hear all about how she remains productive despite having such a busy diary and clients to manage. Alison, welcome to the podcast.

Alison: Hello. Welcome.

Will: So just how busy is your average week?

Alison: Well, that's a good question, a good starter. I think it really depends on what I've sort of got prebooked in the diary because I do a lot of training. I could be delivering somewhere between one and three social media workshops every week and obviously then it depends where those are will lead to how busy I am. So I would say when I'm not training, delivering a workshop, I'll either be working on a deeper project, such as writing a strategy or perhaps doing a research piece for a client. And then in between all of those times I'm also checking in on my clients, having phone calls with them, and generally managing the admin side of my business as well. So it's a real mixture of face-to-face work with clients and then all of that sort of behind the scenes deeper project stuff.

Will: Yeah. And so what tools and processes have you adopted over the years to deal with all those different kinds of demands?

Alison: I think I very quickly realized that you need to be super organized in terms of your calendar. So we keep a pretty tight calendar, Avocado Social, with color coding. We use Google Calendar. So nothing too crazy there, but it is well organized in terms of how far ahead we'll book things then.

Will: And how far ahead do you know what's going on in your life?

Alison: About six weeks in terms of workshops. I mean, at the moment I would say we've got workshops booked in over the next three months, but I would say if a client phoned up and said, "Could you do something next week?" it's very unlikely we were to be able to do that. And I normally say to people we need two weeks lead time minimum. The second thing that I've realized is you have to have such a great cloud-based system for all of your files and proposals, and documents. So we use Dropbox, which, personally, I find extremely easy to use.

Will: And that's because you're still fast to be accessible from anywhere and potentially by anyone.

Alison: That's true.

Will: You know, I mean, you may not be available when a client needs to see strategy or contract or something.

Alison: Yes, absolutely. And it needs to be because the files are so big when you deliver a workshop. It needs to be a very easy way of giving someone the follow-up notes afterwards. And also, I like to work a little bit on my phone, a little bit on my desktop, and a little bit on my laptop. So having one system that talks between all of my devices is fantastic.

Will: But how do you know what's on your to-do list?

Alison: So every week I essentially have a meeting with my team where we decide what are the absolute musts that need to happen that week.

Will: Is that the beginning of the week?

Alison: Yeah. Monday morning first thing.

Will: So you set out everything that needs to happen that week.

Alison: We look at the calendar, we see what's going on, we sort of all bring things to the meeting. So whether there are certain proposals that need chasing or clients that need invoicing, or if there's a workshop that needs to be written, and we look at where those deadlines are, and when things need to be done by. And then I will then have my own personal daily to-do list. So every morning I write a to-do list.

Will: By hand?

Alison: Yeah. By hand, analog...

Will: Wow.

Alison: my notepad of everything that I need to do that day. And it will be things as small as reply to this comment on Facebook.

Will: Yes. Just capturing everything that needs doing and making sure nothing slips through there. I think that's a really good first step. A lot of people don't even do that.

Alison: Oh, it's great for being able to take it off, that satisfying feeling. And then there will be longer projects that I know are gonna take me two or three days. But I'll just have that kind of lingering on my to-do list and carry over for the next couple of days.

Will: But will you know what your next action is on that project? Because that simple thing is...

Alison: Yeah. Like, sometimes for writing a client strategy, we will then separate that into the sort of stages that need to be done. So whether that's the research phase, whether it's an interview with a client, whether it's delivering a first draft, or whether it's signing up to a tool to be able to analyze their data.

Will: The specific action because a lot of productivity systems, I suppose, focus on that, you know, like create strategy for client isn't really a to-do.

Alison: No.

Will: Do you know what I mean? Whereas sign up for that social media monitoring tool so I can get started, that is. So there's something you can put a firm tick by.

Alison: Absolutely.

Will: And break it down. Right. Okay. So what happens when a client calls? And, you know, everything kinda goes out the window or does it? I don't know.

Alison: It can do, it can certainly do. And so your to-do list, which were like, quite simple, easy day, your three, four things can quickly get lagged or more things get added to that list. So obviously working in social media, things can change very last minute and there will be urgent things that need to be done or whether that's a longer term monitoring. So for example, a client of ours maybe... Well, they're a restaurant. They had an issue with one of their restaurants. We had to then monitor Twitter just to check whether or not this issue was going to affect their client base, their customers, etc. So we have to keep an eye on Twitter for a longer period of time than what we would have done normally. So in that case, you know, either end up working longer that day or things do get put over to the next day.

Will: And that's the issue, isn't it, with working in digital marketing? We are, of all industries, I think, probably one of the most susceptible to distraction.

Alison: Oh, yeah.

Will: To notifications or...

Alison: News feeds.

Will: News feeds or just that internal nagging feeling that we're missing something.

Alison: Absolutely.

Will: How do you deal with that? How do you... Tell me about notifications and distractions to start with.

Alison: So here's an interesting one, Will. I actually have all notifications on my phone off.

Will: Oh, wow.

Alison: I know. Risky as a social media manager.

Will: It is. You could miss something.

Alison: I could. But I do, for the clients that we do manage social for, which I've got to say we only manage social for two clients at the moment, we are regularly jumping in at certain points in the day that we know are hard times for their customers to perhaps message them. So we have dedicated time that we're jumping in. And then also, in terms of social media, I do schedule all social media for both clients and for Avocado Social as well. And what that means is that I'm not really distracted too much by the news feed unless I plan to be. So what I mean there is for Avocado Social, I would probably schedule somewhere between three and five posts to go on Instagram a week. I know there's a post going out, I know when they're going out, but if I want to jump into the news feed and see sort of what's going on in my community, I can do. But I will do that maybe once some of my bigger tasks are completed.

Will: You've got control over that basically.

Alison: Exactly. I think that's really important. The only thing that I probably struggle with in terms of not having control over is WhatsApp. So I, like many of the social media managers, I'm sure, have this kind of strange personal, professional mixture of content in my WhatsApp. I've got some WhatsApp chats with clients, I've got some WhatsApp chats with people like my family and my best friends, and they're all in one place. And so if I jump in and there's a client message I could very easily get distracted with a friend message. And I'd say that's probably where I see most of my time sucked away.

Will: I think that's common. I mean, WhatsApp is the only app that pretty much I have notifications turned on for that reason.

Alison: Do you get lots of clients messaging you on that?

Will: I don't really know, but if did use it for that, I can see how it would, you know. And in light of that, what part of your personality do you think works against you in terms of productivity?

Alison: I'm quite stubborn. So actually, I remember about a year, one of my clients messaged me a question on WhatsApp and it was just a sort of, you know, "Do you think we should be doing this with our social media?" type question, and I was adamant that I was not going to reply because how dare this client message me on my personal WhatsApp with a social media question. My WhatsApp was for my friends and family only, and I was gonna keep it that way. And I stuck to my guns and I emailed her back. And I gave her the answer to her question. But it's a very polite message at the end, just saying, "By the way, like, for this kind of stuff, I would appreciate an email rather than a WhatsApp."

Will: “I would appreciate you'd never WhatsApp me again”.

Alison: Exactly. And I probably did come across quite...I don't know what the word is, but I think that stubborn nature in me was sort of like, "No, I am going to stick to my guns and not use WhatsApp for work." And over the last year, actually I found that WhatsApp is incredibly useful for giving a very quick reply to a customer, particularly now because one of the clients which we work with, they need that instant customer query support channel. So we decided to set up WhatsApp. And so now I have no problem with using it for work. And actually, I feel a little bit embarrassed of how I acted a year ago, but I suppose these things do evolve.

Will: They do, they do. And actually, I mean, I suppose, you know, your stubbornness is actually a real asset when it comes to productivity. It's...

Alison: Yes, potentially.

Will: No. It really is because, you know, you'll stick to your guns and it sounds like you've taken control of your digital life in quite a resolute way, which is good, because a lot of us don't do that and we let the technology kind of dictate our day, really.

Alison: Yeah. I really do, I think, since I've read a lot more about, you know, screen time and... I think working in social media, I'm just so aware of how much time I do spend on the platforms. I really do like to being control of it. Where I probably also could improve, although maybe...I don't know, maybe I'm doing it fine, is I do tend to work quite a lot of weekends. Not for the whole weekend, but if there is something I didn't quite manage to finish in the week I will often be found on a Sunday afternoon, you know, getting that report done or prepping some emails for Monday morning just to kinda get ahead of myself. I wonder if that's just a small business owner thing.

Will: It definitely is. We're all... Yeah. We never clock off. So, you know, I think we all do that, but I think... Do you think that it's important to have a definite end to the working day?

Alison: In some way, yeah, I do, I think particularly when you're running a business with your partner as well.

Will: Of course, well, you didn't mention, but you do.

Alison: Which I do. So my husband and I run the business. So we do need that, right? That set almost our laptops off.

Will: We're husband and wife again.

Alison: Yes. It's dinnertime or let's go and veg out. But then, you know, equally, someone did say to me once which I thought was beautiful is, if you do have to work late, why not work late with someone you love? So, you know, there will be some times where I say to my husband, "Oh, I haven't quite gotten through my to-do list today," and he sort of goes, "Oh, yeah. I could do with working tonight as well." And we sort of give each other that look and sort of say, "Okay. Tonight we'll work, but tomorrow we'll reward ourselves." We'll go out for lunch or, you know, we'll take the afternoon off. So it works both ways.

Will: Yeah. Absolutely. We have exactly the same thing with my wife, you know. So when you look at your to-do list, do you believe like some people in tackling the hardest, nastiest jobs first, it is something the guys referred to in productivity circles as swallowing the frog, right? And it's this idea's kinda like, you know, when you're a kid it's just better to eat the peas and the carrots first on their plate. Do you know what I mean? Do you take that sort of approach with your to-dos?

Alison: I would love to, but I never do. No. I always start with a couple of easy ones just to get into the swing of it. So usually that would be an urgent email that needs to go out that I know will take a couple of minutes, or perhaps it's just getting, you know, a couple of posts scheduled into social media or something like that.

Will: But what's your best time of the day? When are you your best?

Alison: Morning, definitely.

Will: Because a lot of people would say that's when you should devote your, you know, mental energy to the stuff that really matters, and then when it's over now, after lunch, you can do the kind of admin and the invoice, and then the brain dead stuff, you know. There's one I was reading recently about one method where people actually tag each to do with whether they need high energy or whether they can do when they're essentially brain dead. And so when you are brain dead, you can look at your to-do list and notice if there's some things on there for you to do that take zero thinking about, and they are usually things like admin, or sending an easy email, or tidying your desk, you know, those sort of things. And if you know you're best in the morning, you tackle that strategy document or the thing you really don't wanna do, you know.

Alison: Yeah. And that makes total sense and I wish I could do that.

Will: Maybe.

Alison: But I like to start with one or two easy ones just to get a couple of ticks on my list.

Will: I agree. I do. I mean, I believe in swallowing the frog and I try and do it. But it's nice to ease in, we need to see some ticks because we need that reward.

Alison: We do.

Will: And how do you reward yourself? Do you have to reward yourself for getting some of those big nasty jobs done?

Alison: Yes, I do. Yeah. I think that's really important. So I mean, different ways. Like, sometimes it will be, you know, "Oh, I finished that big strategy that I've been working on all week," or I've been really looking to get out the door, I will now, you know, take a lovely evening off, go for a lovely walk, or maybe it's going for a lovely yoga class, or perhaps it's just cooking a really nice meal and spending the time to do that. But I do like to intentionally choose something that gives me pleasure as a reward for doing that, which I think is really interesting.

Will: That's great. I mean, funnily enough, it's one of the big trending productivity hacks of our time.

Alison: Is it?

Will: Yeah. No, it's something I've come across quite a bit, and because it's so psychologically proven now that the best way to motivate yourself is to give yourself a... you know, it has to be a very defined to-do.

Alison: Absolutely.

Will: So that you can observably say, "Yeah. That's definitely been done," but at the end of it you play something that is just indulgent and like, yeah, going for a walk or something you really kind of could only allow yourself to do if you really felt like you've relieved yourself with that task, you know.

Alison: Yeah, yeah. Actually, I find that the thing that I probably do quite a lot in my business is, I don't know if it's the same for you, Will, but I have very, very crazy times in my business where maybe for three weeks I'm going relentlessly at it with workshops. I've got maybe three or four key deadlines for strategy or audits, or competitor reviews that need to be delivered. And so at the end of that almost my stint or sprint, I will do something quite big as a reward.

Will: Right. I like it.

Alison: So, for example, I've recently been to Switzerland to deliver a strategy and a workshop. In the mean time I'm delivering two social media strategies for my clients and I've recently come to Ireland to do some online courses. And so that was quite a lot of work over the next...over sort of the previous weeks. So what I've done is I've booked a Friday afternoon off and I'm gonna go and have a facial, which is such a girly thing to do. But I'm really excited about it because it's a special treat. And it's almost like well done for doing all that massive work.

Will: Like, I feel that's so important. You're not gonna believe this, but I did the exact same thing.

Alison: Did you go for a facial?

Will: I went for a facial and a back massage.

Alison: Did you? Oh, amazing.

Will: In my hometown, there is like a spa and I'd got... So it was just before Christmas and I was going to go home for Christmas, basically, and having done all this work. In the very first day I got that. I'd booked myself into the spa.

Alison: Amazing.

Will: And I had to wait between treatments and sit in the chill out room by the pool in a robe, in a bubbly thing and all that. And just I went through it full. I just thought, you know what, it's not worth doing, it's not worth the sprint unless you can treat yourself.

Alison: I agree.

Will: But I do think it's very motivational, I do. And like I say there's growing evidence that for all the, you know, productivity tools and tips, and hacks, and systems that we've got, that it might be the simplest way to just help yourself get stuff done, get the big, the high value, big, meaty stuff done is to put a reward at the end of it.

Alison: I think so.

Will: Although apparently it works on a micro level. Just, you know, if I go for a run, I'll let myself have a chocolate bar at work as well. But it's, obviously, more effective, like, kind of bigger level, you know.

Alison: Yeah. And I think when you're running your own business as well or, you know, maybe if you're not running your own business.

Will: And I think we all go through that boom and bust, you know, sprint and stroll thing, by the way.

Alison: Yes. Move up and down, up and down.

Will: Yeah. We do.

Alison: But I think it's very good to take stop and just kind of step out of that craziness because I think that's where you can ease, that you go down the route of burnout if you are just keep going, keep going, keep going, and you never take that time to sort of sit back. And almost kinda congratulate yourself in a non-cheesy way, because you're sort of like, "Oh, well done. I did that."

Will: Yeah. It's neglected. I mean, it does sound cheesy and it sounds more than self-congratulatory, and all the wrong things, but no, it's important. Because why? What's the point? Why are you doing it?

Alison: Exactly.

Will: You know, what's the point of working your...

Alison: And then you feel a bit like a hamster just going around on the wheel otherwise.

Will: You can do, and I think that's why productivity is so important because the point behind productivity is to take the stress, the uncertainty, the chaos out of work. Isn't it?

Alison: Yeah.

Will: Because... And that's what leads to burnout. And so that's why productivity is so important. I mean, I mentioned to you that, you know, I'm currently following the getting things done, the famous kind of getting things done method, and the tagline to getting the book is it's getting things done, something about stress-free productivity, you know, a guide to stress-free productivity. Because once you know that you have a reliable system for managing what you've got to do, it frees your mind. The theory is that it frees your mind to be creative, to be your best self, and to not burn out essentially.

Alison: And that's interesting as well because in those moments we're talking about whether it's getting a facial, going for a swim, taking a walk, that's actually when I get some really good client ideas, which I, you know, I hear that all the time from people. It's actually when you go on holiday or just take time away from your screen, that's when your best creative ideas happen.

Will: And that's why. That is exactly why productivity is so important, productivity processes or some sort of structure because you have to give yourself that time to breathe rather than being on the hamster wheel that you've talked about. So where do you have your best ideas?

Alison: I would probably say on a dog walk. Yeah. So I have a lovely Springer dog, who is part Springer, part Lab, who me and my husband take him for a walk every day, and we don't always go together, but that can be where we get some great ideas or maybe if I'm to sort of thinking to myself. And then also driving, I get good ideas. So, yeah, I do, when I'm driving maybe, you know, around the country, particularly if I'm by myself, just that time to sort of rethink over a client issue, a problem, or to just perhaps think about even, you know, what are we gonna post on Instagram for the next week.

Will: It's because you're trapped, isn't? Because you can't engage with your screen or...

Alison: Yeah. There's no distraction other than the traffic.

Will: You have to think. Other than, you know, stay in the line.

Alison: Exactly.

Will: And how do you capture your ideas in these moments?

Alison: That's a good question. I would probably say either WhatsApping my husband.

Will: Not while driving, of course, but yeah.

Alison: No, no. Oh, I have this great idea. Or it would be a case of, you know, jotting something down on a notepad when I can.

Will: Yup. I recently started using an app called Otter, and it's a speech-to-text app. It's very smart, it's a very good one. It's better than a lot that I've used. And when I get home it syncs to my desktop and I can put in my Apple notes app, and basically turn it into written content. And I've noticed that a lot more people are starting to do this, which is how I learned about it. So I've started basically doing what you do in the car, just recording myself and then trying to formulate my thoughts, and it might turn into a section. Like, recently it turned into a slide in one of my courses. Recently, you know, the monologue turned into an article on my website.

Alison: Oh, brilliant.

Will: You know, I mean, not the full article, but maybe just know, I would have to go and research, and probably write afterwards. But it would be the bare-bones of it, you know, and some of the thicker prose of it. Because when you speak, it comes out as the way you would most naturally write anyway, I think.

Alison: That's really interesting. And actually, it reminds me of a recent Taylor Swift documentary I watched on Netflix.

Will: I know that.

Alison: And she writes most of her songs from actually just formulating that spoken word and recording in a voice note on her phone.

Will: Good.

Alison: So in the documentary you see her coming up with a lot of her new tracks on her album by either, you know, saying a lyric into her phone, or a sentence, or a poem, or even just singing...

Will: A little line.

Alison: ...a little line or melody. And it's very interesting.

Will: It's interesting. I mean, that's what led me to do this because I just realized that my idea capture process was just broken. I was trying to think of what to write or what to put there at times when I wasn't at my most creative. And when I wasn't at my most creative, I was just losing ideas, you know, which is a big part of productivity because you're trying to maximize what you get out of, you know, your brain and turn into work to make the most of your time.

Alison: So that app was called Otter.

Will: Yeah. Otter.

Alison: Okay. I'm gonna look into it.

Will: And what I do you find is that, you know, it's not necessarily the 9 to 5 hours that are my most productive hours. So I'm just trying to always make the best use of my time when or wherever it is. Do you think normal office hours are conducive to productivity?

Alison: I don't, actually. No. Having worked in offices for the first five years or so of my career, I really didn't find them that productive in terms of places to be. Myself, I work... I'm an early bird. I like to get up early. I like to be at my desk.

Will: What's early in your hours?

Alison: So we get up somewhere between 6:30 and 7.

Will: I like it.

Alison: We like to have walk the dog by 9, definitely. Otherwise he gets antsy.

Will: I would be antsy, yeah.

Alison: So we try and take him out either 7:30 till 8:30, or 7 till 8, or 8 till 9. So it really depends, but it depends also what we've got going on in terms of projects. So sometimes I like to be at my desk ready to start work at 8, but if, you know, there's not as much on that week or maybe I'm teaching late that evening, so I do the evening workshops, I won't start work then till 9. So I do like work in the morning. I find I'm much more productive and I can get through my to-do list really quickly, and then I slack massively 3 p.m. onwards.

Will: Yeah. I think, yeah.

Alison: So it's not actually that productive for me to be working between sort of 3 and 6. And then weirdly again in the evening, I can sort of get that energy back and I can...

Will: I think that's very typical. Me and my wife are exactly the same. Yeah. But that's the great thing about working for yourself and working remotely. What are your thoughts? How do you feel? What's it like to work from home every day? Do you find it difficult or do you find it liberating?

Alison: I really do love working from home. When I first started working from home, I did find it quite odd. It is a bit lonely perhaps and hard to not get distracted by things like doing the washing up or reorganizing your wardrobe. But now that I actually have a dedicated room in my house as an office, that has really changed things and, you know, you can enter the office in the morning, and when you shut the door at the end of the day, you know that's it, that work is over, it creates that boundary. And so that's really helped.

Will: What's the hardest thing about it?

Alison: The hardest thing I'd probably say, well, firstly, if I work at home too many days in a row, I start to kind of almost get this boxed in feeling.

Will: Cabin fever.

Alison: Cabin fever. Exactly. So that's why I'm so still keen to make sure that I'm getting out, meeting clients, running workshops, etc., during my week. I think when I do maybe three days on the traps at home, I start to get itchy feet.

Will: I think we all need to see people, even if it's just people, you know, just a client meeting.

Alison: The postman.

Will: The postman. Yeah. True. We do. We all thrive on that.

Alison: We do, we do. And so that's probably one of the harder things.

Will: Do you miss anything about office life specifically?

Alison: No. I wasn't a great... Although I had a fantastic time working in offices, don't get me wrong, I wasn't a great lover of the sort of...

Will: You and the banter queen of the office.

Alison: Yeah. The sort of how-was-your-weekend chats.

Will: All right.

Alison: I don't love all of that all the time. I also don't love the sort of the tea runs. I can remember at one stage having to make about 12 cups of tea.

Will: I hated that.

Alison: And I just thought that was a massive waste of time. And, yeah, I don't know. I'm not... I just wasn't a huge lover of it. Don't get me wrong. I love going into my clients’ offices. I love meeting people, chatting with people, but being positioned in an office all day, particularly when you're trying to do very deep work, is hugely distracting.


Will: I think that's the key, isn't it? When you get complete control of your time, not only can you do things like walk the dog and then be at your desk at certain time, and then maybe switch back on in the evening and all that. But you get to really work on your own terms and do that deep work in a very focused way. You know, there was that famously one of the big finance companies. I don't know if it's Morgan Stanley, someone like that, had a system where everybody had a red cap on their desk, and if you put the cap on, you were undisturbable.

Alison: Oh, wow. I didn't know about that.

Will: Yeah. So there are all like businesses that try and tackle that through weird and wacky systems, which sounds mental, but ultimately, you know, people self-distract in offices, you know, they'll just look at people, all the people in the office or...

Alison: One driver to go and have a chat with someone.

Will: Yeah. All that sort of things. So, you know, you.... I forgot what it's like to be in that situation because we've worked, you know, worked on our own for so long. But I'm so used to having that complete control.

Alison: Even weird things, right? Like, I love wearing jogging bottoms when I'm doing a big report. I love...

Will: Okay. Your special report jogging bottoms. I like it.

Alison: Yeah. This nice, like, Adidas kinda green on brand, very cozy jogging bottoms, slippers. Sometimes I call people just to do my hair. I also... I kinda sound like I'm a slob, but...

Will: No. But it's true. I think you're right, that, you know, the business environment and the entire...the whole thing isn't always the best thing, isn't it? I think that's why more businesses are moving to remote working, and then there's whole businesses now. I mean, I know someone who works at InVision, which is a big design software company, and they don't have offices, everyone is remote. And you're getting more of these 21st century businesses that, you know, that from the start, they just would not even gonna get an office, which is they have a totally remote workforce and, you know, judge people on the work they deliver.

Alison: Exactly.

Will: And if they're doing it in the middle of the night in their nightie, in their dressing gown, then fine.

Alison: I think there's quite a few businesses like that in the social media world. Well, I'm pretty sure Buffer is the same. And I use the great social media tool called Rival IQ for reporting. They are all remote as well. And it's funny, isn't it? Because there was very much this sort of, "Oh, what if you're working from home, how do we know that you're actually working?" But I think now so many businesses are judging their workforce based on the level of work they're doing and how quickly they're getting through tasks, and what they're actually delivering rather than whether they're moving their mouse on their desktop to make sure that their chat is active.

Will: Totally. Yeah.

Alison: So, yeah.

Will: That's a nice tip. It was about that. Yeah. Just move the mouse every five minutes so you look online on Slack in your course. Yeah. I think the open office killed office work.

Alison: Yeah. It's funny, isn't it?

Will: I think the rise of the open office partly because of the way that modern office buildings were built, but because of the way that we thought that that would affect culture. Actually what happened is people found them absolutely impossible to work in. So...

Alison: But also the enhancements in technology now.

Will: Of course.

Alison: You know, I use the tool called Zoom for...which many people do for webinars, for chats. You don't actually need to see some of your clients for months on end because you could have a weekly chat with them, seeing them. You know, there's some clients I haven't seen for ages, actually, but we still have a very good relationship.

Will: Yeah. I mean, I don't do a lot of webinars, but I had one course that I was supposed to deliver and the client had some sort of major hiccup with travel. He couldn't come. It was just for this one client, the course, for a few people from that company. We ended up doing it on a webinar and I genuinely believe it was a better course.

Alison: Oh, really?

Will: It actually went... It definitely went better over webinar.

Alison: Why do you think that is? Why do you think it went better?

Will: It was more... We were really looking at the... It was... We were looking at what we were doing. We're both looking at a screen. We were exchanging links, we were kind of more... It was a bit more active. So the problem is when people use their laptops in sessions, they can kind lose them a bit, and I really don't like that.

Alison: I am the same.

Will: But I allow it. You know, I don't like it. And you're never quite sure. They're actually just checking their work email or what's going on, whereas we were really kind of all looking at the same stuff and screen sharing, and being... It was very engaged, hands-on course.

Alison: Yeah. You couldn't get away with not looking at it because if you...

Will: But in the same way they weren't just looking at a big screen on the wall. It felt more tactile in a sort of way that I can... When I think back to that course, I feel like it was there with them. So, you know, it doesn't have to be a compromise. I think there's some instances where people get more out of remote meetings because of the way we can kind of exchange information, we can have a record of it, all these kind of things.

Alison: Yeah. It's amazing really. The future of the workplace.

Will: Indeed, indeed, and I'm sure it will, yeah, become an increasingly productive place as a result. Well, thanks so much. It's been fascinating to hear just how you run your business, you know. You're clearly doing something right and it's good to get an insight.

Alison: It's those jogging bottoms.

Will: It is. Yeah. That's it. I think ultimately that's where it comes down to. Task-specific leisure wear.

Alison: Yes, yes.

Will: Okay. So that's the big takeaway. Well, thanks so much for that and thanks for coming on the podcast.

Alison: It's a pleasure. Thanks for having me, Will.

Will: Cheers. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about transforming your marketing career through certified online training, head to Thanks for listening.

Alison Battisby
Alison Battisby

Alison is a Social Media Consultant with Avocado Social, she is a Facebook and Instagram accredited social media expert and founded Avocado Social in 2014 having worked in the social media industry since 2008. Alison has worked with a wide range of brands including Estee Lauder, Tesco, and Pringles. Alison has traveled the world training companies including the BBC, Etsy, Canon, and Cambridge University Press. She offers social media strategy, training, and consultancy at Avocado Social across platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok. 

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