Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend John Jantsch’s Strategy and Tactics Workshop. It was a great event (I’m not just saying that because I’m a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network) and I found it very helpful to be able to take the day to slow down, take a breath, and work on my business. It was also helpful to share experiences with a great group of small business owners who also want to grow their business.

So today is the day after a workshop and I am faced with the same situation that we all face – how do I catch up on the work that piled up yesterday and make sure I start implementing my ideas from the workshop? Here are some of the ways I try to tackle this problem. I would love to hear what you do to put your learning into practice.

Set Appointments on Your Marketing Calendar

Step 7 in the 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success is “Live By a Calendar”. This is something I have believed in long before I became a Duct Tape consultant and that belief has only strengthened over time. My first step when returning from a workshop or conference is to review my notes and mark my “next actions” down on my calendar. I like to reserve slots on my calendar related to my various roles, so in this case I am adding items to the slots that have been designated for marketing.

I also mark my next actions, rather than the end result. This is something I learned from David Allen’s Getting Things Done and it helps me not only get started quickly, but helps me build momentum. For example, if I wanted to work on getting more referrals from strategic partners, I wouldn’t write “Build Referral Network” on my calendar. I would write something like “Identify 5 Referral Partner Candidates” or “Schedule calls with 5 people who have sent me referrals in the past”. Personally, I like to schedule my work in 90 minute time slots. I may not be able to “land 5 new customers via referrals” in 90 minutes, but I sure can knock out a bunch of “next steps” in that time. There’s nothing magic about 90 minutes – it just works for me. Find a time box that works for you and use it on your calendar.

Prune Your To-Do List

While you are thinking about the important things you want to accomplish and how you will get them done, take some time to review your to-do list and remove any “dead” items. Most of us have items that have been on our to-do list for an extended period of time. We haven’t addressed them in months and, in all reality, chances are we never will. This happens for a variety of reasons – priorities change, the item was more of a wish list item than a to-do, or a myriad of other reasons. If you have been carrying an item on your to-do list for an extended period of time, give yourself permission to just delete it or move it to a “someday” list. Getting rid of this mental weight will help you move forward with the items that will truly make a difference in your business.

Find an Accountability Partner

Having someone to follow up with after the event is also a great way to make sure put your learning into practice. If you don’t have an accountability partner already, ask someone you meet at the event. Almost everyone I have met at an event is open to the idea and it helps to have that shared vocabulary and experience you acquired at the event when discussing your challenges and progress.

What do you do to put what you learn at a workshop or conference into practice?

Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant