I believe our daily scrolling now exceeds the height of the Eiffel Tower.
We are bombarded with content, we cannot really get away from content of all shapes and sizes, quantity has overtaken quality, it’s a battleground; the good, bad and the ugly.
We have TV, books, magazines, podcasts, newsletters, blogs, websites, online video (YouTube), apps, news, social media, instant messages all vying with our attention and energy all day every day.
I know, like me, many find this exhausting.
Our news has been tweaked and mixed with entertainment and then blended with reality tv, we are now served a world where news is not news it has to be seen as entertainment to keep viewers and keep them on that channel.
If we want the news it has entertainment thrown in with a reality spin or headline. This has slowly but surely changed since the 1980s.
It is important to remember important decision-makers are making essential decisions not knowing a different world of content.
Content has never been so accessible, so open and so ‘free’.
For years I curated the best content feeds I could on any social platform or tool (Twitter, Feedly, YouTube) I use tools (like RSS and Nuzzel) to serve me must-read content without me having to scroll through endless feeds and email me the most shared articles or shared from those accounts I deemed as most important.
Tiktok and the next-gen of apps have flipped the need to discover and follow friends, into watch more effortlessly and be fed more content you will love to consume and share.
Desires are driven now by algorithms.
We face a huge amount of negative content exposure, I always referenced the old saying ‘bad news is only good news for journalists’ and now it is great news for advertising companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.
This is a difficult cycle.
Anything for clicks → anything for monetisation → anything for more content.
‘Content’ is supposed to be an escape, a quick update, amusing, a way to cure an itch or an urge we might have, now it is becoming addictive, engineered to keep us checking, reading and sharing.
Is it time for JOMO (joy of missing out) not FOMO (fear of missing out) – I likely think so.
Without rethinking and reframing, are you going to keep following the same cycle?
Is this the best time to change or go on a content diet?
For me, I will be, it’s not going to be easy with the must reads newsletter but it is something I know I have to do and steps I have to take to keep my content snacking to a minimum.
Will you be changing your content diet? I hope so.
Time management and getting everything done has always been difficult if we had the secret sauce we probably wouldn’t share it.
Working agency side and looking after larger teams really did help to shape my priortisation, you often learn from mistakes but when you try and juggle numerous demands from mundane tasks, challenging people issues and delivering important large projects, you often need to list and order by priority.
When I started out in my career in a mature business, I was a Project Manager and learned from other PM’s, forums, and working with a very impressive more experienced PM that documenting your time and being extremely detailed in your way of winning. As I evolved with my role and the jobs to be done, I got into lean and six sigma, these teachings also helped prioritise my time and understand time is critical at tasks level, time-based actions taken can be a revolution to businesses.
I am often asked how do I prioritise my workload and how do I manage this. I do not have a perfect formula nor do I pretend to have it completely right, however, I have found there are two methods that help me and have helped my team members over the years.
Daily Prioritisation Framework
I am organised, I like to have structure, I like to start early, in my case the early bird has got the worm more often than not and has allowed me to structure and to organise my time and prioritise my day or week ahead.
I often jump between written schedules (the dopamine kick for crossing off and completing tasks by hand still outperforms the ticking of a to-do on the Mac or notes app for me) and to do via Apple Notes or Notion.
If you work agency side or have multiple ongoing projects I typically would add the client (or large project name) into the table and identity if its repeatable work or unique work.
Every day I go in and reprioritise, often you can re-review your to-do list and add the Einshower Matrix framework, do (urgent & important), decide (important but not urgent), delegate (urgent but not important to you), delete (not urgent or important).
You can take two approaches, look at your task list separate from your calendar or you can then incorporate the tasks into a calendar outlook. I have found that Outlook beats Google calendar but with tasks incorporated into both and in calendar mode both are becoming equal with tasks by calendar view, this doesn’t suggest how important or what needs to get done first.
We all have a certain number of hours per day and time is always of the essence, so incorporating in your calendar will help block out time for important tasks or projects or understand how possible your tasks are.
Be ruthless with your calendar, remember your time is your time, therefore truly understand what meetings are essential or are ones you can read the follow-up notes and catch up with when you have finished your tasks or projects.
Block out time for your tasks, if you are a morning person try and block out time to deep work and concentrate on your tasks, or if you know meetings tend to start at 9.30 and finish in and around lunch block out time slots where you can concentrate. It’s more than ok to review your calendar and understand patterns and plan accordingly, we are more predictable than we would ever think.
If you are an afternoon or early evening person, typically meetings finish mid-afternoon so you can block out time a week or days ahead and block out time to complete.
I repeat the process daily, often each night and then fresh every morning, why?
Depending on your schedule, business, or company culture, you can receive emails and instant messengers overnight and re-prioritising is often really important. The process of re-analysing is important and by delegating or deleting you will get more dopamine kicks and feel like you are making process and give you a natural high.
If you are just adding tasks and not deleting or completing you have to go back to your tasks or calendar and be more ruthless.
Weekly Prioritisation Framework
Weekly prioritisation might sound overkill, on Monday it could feel like you are planning for planning sake however knowing important deadlines and projects are coming up or your team is away or doing x or y is essential.
Personally, I look at time slots as energy sources and if you are low on energy and need to get into the zone of delivering mundane tasks or low priority tasks can be completed in low energy or if like me you are at low energy levels after 15.00 plan in low important meetings or get into completion mode or plan a stroll or walk if you can to refresh and readdress your energy.
Managing your weekly view is important, I personally use the same framework as above but add in the one to ones, recurring meetings and add important points I would like to discuss or actions we promised we would pick up. I personally like the GROW framework (Goals – how are we doing, what are we moving towards? Reality – where are we really at, Options and Obstacles – challenges we are facing, and what are we doing about them? Way forward).
I also offer internal (informal and formal) mentoring and champions (developing internal champions to own a specific theme or channel and coach their peers) so when these are being utilised I include in my weekly plan and document these and prioritise around this accordingly.
There is something that many people do not plan for and I have learned this is important, personal development or “reflections and actions”, personal development is something we rarely plan for or block out time for, however, it is important we create the time and space for this, obviously, prioritise these accordingly but you need time to learn and develop and very rarely will someone put in the time to prioritise this if you do not.
Reflections and actions are something I have been working with for around a year and has helped me clear my mind and often tasks that always seem to be harder than they should, reflections are a time we should look through our notes, review what actions we had and reflect on these and consider potentially a smarter way to act or take action or even plan out the tactics we are going to use. Often we become so bogged down by these requests we do not plan or put yourselves into places to win.
If you prefer to type (or centralise your thoughts online) and use a time or calendar view, many smart people I have worked with actually do print out their day ahead or schedule in a calendar view and cross off throughout the day.
Having recent decisions with leaders and writing my weekly Focus Leaders Letters newsletter, I have been thinking about which are the priceless skills to have in the modern-day office.
Here are the 9 skills I believe are priceless and essential today and for the foreseeable future.
Making Complicated Things Simple.
Being able to breakdown the complex into simple and understandable is priceless.
The old saying if you cannot explain to a six-year-old, you don’t know it enough can ring true.
Learn to explain in the most complicated in simple digestible and relatable chunks. A comparison (like this like the tires on a car, or this is like iMessage for Apple and is our equivalent moat for us) tends to work best with more seasoned execs.
The most powerful skill many of us have to work on. Storytelling is the way we buy into ideas, concepts, and leaders. The best leaders can make the same story resonate every time they tell it, they tell the story differently and in empowering ways. If you have the data but that isn’t convincing colleagues, storytelling (learn the three-step process) will outweigh political clout seven out of ten times.
Below is a good overview of how the 3 act storytelling framework works.
Saying I Don’t Know And Being Confident In Saying I Don’t Know
If you don’t know that is ok and knowing that is more than half of the battle especially when speaking to someone more senior. If it is something you can revert back on say so, if it is something someone else is better equipped to answer, suggest them and why.
A skill can be knowing where you are right or strong and knowing you can bring someone else in and where you are not as strong.
Knowing The Environment & When The Feel Is Off
There are numerous times when you walk into an environment, on a call or meet someone and you know something is off.
Knowing the environment is not right or is not for you or your company is a human survival skill. The best people at this can make a quick exit gracefully and know it was the right thing to do by explaining this feeling in business terms.
Disney pulled out of a deal to buy Twitter very late in proceedings as they felt it was wrong and the environment wasn’t right for Disney as a brand.
Staying Calm Under Pressure.
Keeping your cool and knowing how to keep a calm head is invaluable. Panic mode sets in for numerous reasons but those who do not lose their head or cannot act normally will cause a ripple effect that is hard to shake.
As a leader, if you can stay calm and explain the situation with rational steps and what the team should be doing is priceless. This leads by example, encourages, and embeds this as the reaction that you require from the team. This sets the tone for the next event. I saw and learnt this first hand. Read more in my 27 lessons.
As I mentioned in team development 2021 developing out the right skills are essential and doing it early before the turn of the year can really set you and your team up for a better 21.
Owning, Managing & Maximising Your Time
Owning your time can be more challenging and seemly out of your control particularly now there is a cult around having to have meetings for everything.
If you can manage your time, maximise for deep and considered work, your output is going to be high quality. Managing your time is something that is challenging, being able to reduce meetings down by five minutes, knowing when to take a break and understanding when everyone is exhausted are essentials skills and very closely aligned.
One tip I have shared numerous times is reviewing your calendar, review the meetings you are in and rank them. If scores low and is unproductive, reduce down attendance, if can be optimised start setting the agenda and time keep. Make your time work for you and those around you. Cutting down a meeting from 30 minutes to 25 minutes will feel like a godsend.
Many people struggle with time but as it is the only constant we all have by managing time and flow you will be steps ahead of others.
Being Able To Keep Meetings On Track
It is extremely rare you can keep a meeting on track and control the output, working on and delivering a meeting that sets up the problem or task, has a flow and actions (including the owners of the actions) is a skill many do not have.
Many professionals are conditioned into celebrating a hero or someone who saves the day with an action. Typically this culture sticks and people are only rewarded when being heroic, this sets a bad tone and bad environment.
If you are consistently good, you consistently deliver you will raise the bar around you. Remember there isn’t always a need for a hero or the day to be saved.
This is something that is some of the rarest skills. Most of us are primed and conditioned as humans to fit in to stay in the tribe, opportunity seers and seekers can often be the odd ones out and place themselves in a threat state as they are not conforming or have the ability to see where there are gaps, where to move towards and when to twist when others are sticking.
In my 2021 predictions and beyond, there are many of these skills, including keeping a calm head, seeing opportunities, and keeping meetings on track are essential for these verticals and market leaders mentioned.
These skills are even more important with the move to the hybrid office and will be essential to develop out and nurture in your team members.
What skills do you have or which ones do you need to work on?
A friend of my Ed Vinicombe has launched his new start up The Digest and it’s a content great platform around inspiring content and content to make you question what you are doing and how to improve. I have written a number of articles for The Digest and here are my first round of articles for you to read.