Tag: productivity

Stop Reading, Start Doing

Marketing, Social Media6 Comments

My buddy and fellow higher ed digital dude, Nick Leigh, recently shared with me his motto for 2012: “Stop Reading, Start Doing.”

Which is funny, because as new media practitioners we spend so much time researching and absorbing as much new information as possible because we know how quickly this space moves. One change to Facebook or Google’s algorithm can force you to rethink your entire strategy.

So we convince ourselves that we need to read every blog post that catches our eye and keep drinking  from the social media firehose, all in the name of ‘research’.

But the reality is that we don’t need to always be consuming content left, right and centre. The voracious near-obsessive consumption of content, while beneficial to a point, is asymptotic as the knowledge you gain becomes incrementally smaller and smaller and never ending as the landscape continues to evolve. This ultimately can have a paralysing effect as you wait for more information to validate your approach, often to the detriment of doing any meaningful work.

I am, by very definition, an infovore. While I’m fortunate that this also happens to be my passion, the very nature of my job means that I need to stay relatively current with my knowledge yet I no longer feel compelled to read, listen or watch everything. In fact, my Google Reader – which would always be cleared out at the end of the week – now routinely sits at 100+ unread blog posts. Instead, I focus on staying up-to-date on a few blogs by thought leaders that deliver me the most value on a consistent basis (think Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Christopher S. Penn), a single industry e-newsletter that curates the best posts from around the web, and when I have a spare moment, I trawl through a Twitter list of industry leaders for links and commentary. In a relatively short amount of time, I’m able to get a read on what’s happening and hopefully come across something valuable that I can put into action with the rest of time I have left.

Do you think there’s too much information out there? What tips do you have for managing your time and the flow of information?


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Walking away

Uncategorized13 Comments

“To thine ownself be true.”
– William Shakespeare

“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”
– Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

We all like looking at pretty things; especially if we’re the ones creating it.

It can be really hard to resist the lure of dabbling in Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Particularly on the web where part of the brief is to experiment, test and optimise, many digital marketers (myself included) love nothing more than to roll up our sleeves create.

In pretty much every case (unless it’s core business), this is a mistake.

We should learn to let go of those things we perceive as being ‘fun’ to do and focus on what really matters. This means letting go of tinkering and letting the experts do the work even if it’s going to cost you in the short term.

It’s cheaper to DIY

For some businesses this may be true, but for most, this argument doesn’t hold any water.

The cost imperative is often misplaced as the cost in terms of salary/lost productivity of you spending several days designing a new website far outweighs the financial cost of just getting a web designer to do it. Unless you have no money and there is no one else who could possibly do the job, there is no way you can say that the time you spend (a) figuring out how to do something; and (b) doing it at a suboptimal level, could be better spent doing something else that is more core to your business.

Having come from the NFP world where everything was done with shoestring, rubber bands and sticky tape, my thinking has shifted somewhat from trying to do everything myself and putting out an amateurish product, to engaging a professional who shared our vision and had a desire to work with us at a price that wouldn’t hold us to ransom. There are now so many design houses and agencies out there that its not too hard to find someone that matches your ethos and budget.

Ok, so what then?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was from the Managing Partner of a large Adelaide law firm who asked me, “What do you want to be known for?”

While slightly out of context, his point was that if you want to get ahead you need to be an expert at something – your competitive point of difference, if you will – and that if you aren’t clear about what your objectives are for both your career and your job, it’s easy to get distracted. But if you know exactly what you are trying to achieve, it becomes much easier to walk away from the ‘nice to do’ stuff so you can focus on the task at hand and get the job done.

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Parenthood1 Comment

A self-professed marketing and technology junkie, there’s few things I love more than the interweb. However, one of the hardest things about becoming a parent has been finding the time to indulge my various interests and habits.

Luckily my good friend Michelle Prak (@Prakky) had an awesome suggestion on her blog that we’ve since incorporated into our weekend routine.

Allocate one hour of uninterrupted ‘screentime’ where mum takes the kid and it’s just me and the iMac.

I can choose to do whatever I want with that time whether it’s blogging, researching, tweeting or just surfing. If I don’t get what I wanted to done because I was too busy screwing around, that’s my own fault, but generally it means that I’m more efficient with my time online.

For any parents struggling to find the time to blog or do anything else online, I highly encourage you to give it a go!

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Making the most of the weekend

Parenthood1 Comment

If you’re like me, come Monday morning, you’re often wondering where the weekend went. When you throw kids and a minimum amount of ‘couch time’ into the equation, you can easily wind up not accomplishing a helluva lot.

The problem gets compounded when there a things around the house that you really need to do such as installing those baby gates you’ve been promising your wife for months or protecting the PS3 from curious little hands.

Luckily, Digital Dads has some great advice for making the most of the weekend and still getting enough chillax time.

  1. Set Clear Goals
    The more vague your goals are, the more likely you won’t get them done. Be as specific as possible. Don’t set the goal of “make a sit down dinner.” Instead set it as “make a dutch oven pot roast for dinner.” Being specific up front focuses you even more on the end goal.
  2. Make a List (in your head doesn’t count)
    This can be on a sticky note, whiteboard or the nearest scrap of paper, but putting it down on paper makes it more likely to happen. This is extra important if you have more then one goal because you can check them off as you complete them. This gratification will help you push forward.
  3. Don’t Do Too Much
    A million tiny tasks or a handful of major ones will both kill you. Don’t give into the temptation to try and do too much. Recognize your limitations and set the right number of goals. Nothing sucks more then having to push something off to the next weekend.
  4. Tell Other People Your Goals
    When you are accountable to someone, it is a great motivator. It is very easy to tell yourself you are going to do something, but the more people you tell the more likely you are to stay focused and succeed.
  5. Celebrate Victory
    When you complete a group of tasks or at the end of the weekend when your list is all checked off be sure to reward yourself. It might be something simple like sitting down for a beer break or some time playing video games. Just be sure to congratulate yourself.
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Just another Saturday morning

Parenthood1 Comment

Every Saturday morning for the past few weeks my wife and I pack down the stroller, grab the green bags and take our son into Aelaide’s Central Markets. We start off with a strong coffee; then spend a leisurely hour or so doing our grocery shopping for the coming week amidst the colour, hustle and bustle of the market; before finishing off with a bowl of fresh, tasty noodles.

It is an activity that we really enjoy doing as a family and look forward.

Like most people, our working week is frantic as we juggle the twin demands of work and raising a young child.

When I was younger, single and not a parent, life was more or less free flowing and unstructured. However as my familial and professional obligations grew that fluidity soon descended into chaos.

Having something simple and pleasurable at the end of the week, week in, week out, that we look forward helps lend some structure and order to our lives. Instead of that empty feeling Monday morning wondering where the weekend went, I now start the week focused and content knowing that I’ve done something useful and spent quality time with the most important people in my life.

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