With Zapier, I have a better work-life balance.
Dina Yankelewitz, Manager, Data and Analytics at Pearson
Sometimes, the smallest changes can yield the biggest results. Think about the butterfly that flaps its wings in Peking and in Central Park, you get rain instead of sunshine. For your work life, that can take the form of a simple reminder about upcoming meetings—one that cuts through even if you're not glued to a computer. Tasks add up throughout the day and projects pop up that need input, so it's not a surprise that a meeting could fall through the cracks.
But Dina Yankelewitz, a manager of data and analytics at Pearson, found a way to always get a meeting reminder, whether she's at her desk, on the road, or anywhere in between.
Her secret is Zapier, the app automation tool that makes connecting different applications a breeze. Dina created a Zap, Zapier's word for an automated workflow, that texts her phone one hour before each meeting. That means Dina gives herself plenty of time to prepare for the meeting and ensure her current availability.
Pearson was founded in the mid-1800s—1844, to be exact—in Yorkshire, England as a construction company. In the 1920s, the company's priority shifted to publishing, and it became one of the big names in the industry. Now, it's known as a leader in education, publishing everything from high school test prep materials to custom curriculum for professional training.
With over 35,000 employees across 70 countries, Pearson's education initiatives and supplies reach millions of people every year.
As a data and analytics manager at Pearson, Dina spends a lot of her time building dashboards that visualize the impact of key products on student performance. In this vein, she's interested in how effective Pearson's products are in improving both teacher and student performance at school; her research and analysis here has helped improve programs and learner outcomes.
The Tools Dina Uses at Pearson
Automatically Send an SMS Before Google Calendar Meetings
Missing a meeting can mean anything from wasting your coworkers' time to losing a huge sale. It's essential to have an airtight reminder system, so you're always there when you need to be. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, from Slack reminders to Google Calendar's desktop notifications. But these notifications can pile up and pretty soon, they become background noise. And what happens if you snooze notifications or aren't always at your computer? These notifications can wind up missed, which defeats the whole point of a reminder.
Dina doesn't live at her desk. The data she compiles and the dashboards she creates are often customer and external facing. That means meeting customers and presenting the information she's researched. Because of that, she turned to the device that's always with her: her phone.
No matter where Dina is, an hour ahead of any meeting she has scheduled during the work week, Zapier sends her a text message reminding her of the start time, topic, other attendees, and if she needs to notify anyone else before it starts. This kind of personal notification cuts through the constant pings of a chat app or browser alert.
Her Zap is straightforward, connecting Google Calendar to SMS by Zapier:
You can customize this workflow however it works best for you. For example, you might want to have the text arrive 30 minutes before. Or maybe you use these reminders as a notification to start preparing for your meeting, and you prefer your reminders and entire day in advance. Whatever timing works for you, Zapier allows you to set the interval to meet your preferences.
Then, when the specified amount of time before a meeting arrives, the Zap triggers, sending an SMS to the number you enter with a message you write.
And that message is completely customizable too. If your phone is set to show preview of a text on the locked screen, you could simply have the meeting name and time it starts, like "Discuss data w/ Jon @ 2:00pm CT". If your smartphone is connected to a smartwatch, that concise message will get you all the information you need without having to unlock your phone.
If you think getting a text message every time you have a meeting might just add to your notification noise, you can trim down by filtering to only receive the messages when the meeting meets certain criteria. With a filter, you can specify that only meetings from particular hosts or participants get through, like your manager or biggest client.
This Zap is great if you often find yourself heads down on a project, ignoring pop-up notifications in Slack or from your browser, away from your computer often, or just like to have a little warning before a meeting starts.
Whether the company you work for has 35,000 employees, like Pearson, or just 35, an app like Zapier can help you spend time focusing on the job tasks that only you can do—while leaving the little things, like meeting reminders, to the machines.
Want to find your own simple, game-changing workflow? Give Zapier a try for free.
All images courtesy of Pearson.