What to do when everybody’s written about what you want to write about

A Letter to Becky, Maria and Paul and Vincent

So, how did your week go? I can’t believe January is almost over! Didn’t we just celebrate holidays and planned for 2017?

In an effort to go against the grain in this blog post, let me jump into a few things that come to mind when it’s Friday and it’s almost the end of another month!

  1. It’s not the best time to post a blog. According to this article , “Avoid evenings, late afternoons and weekends.”
  2. I only post 2x a month instead of 20x a month or more.
  3. This hopefully insightful post is not going to provide any industry insight.

Why it still pays to have an analog phone in 2017

Pray tell when was the last time you let your day go by without looking for your phone and not scream in horror after finding out you left the charger (or heaven forbid, your phone!) on the key tray or the kitchen counter?

It works for me because I am not tempted to grab the device each time a ‘ping’ comes in. I get enough instant messaging and push notifications to keep me occupied, distracted, multi-tasked and sometimes overwhelmed in one day. What I learned is, it’s neither a crime nor a fatal decision to switch off your phone after work. It’s still perfectly acceptable to not have the smart, lighter-than-light device on your hand while typing on a keyboard (or chopping onions). Companies pay people to write escalation policies and procedures for a reason. Ok?

“Everything can be important, but not everything is urgent.”

In the age of 53-second average attention spans and information overload, real communication becomes a luxury that unfortunately, not a lot of people are willing to pay the price for. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that news feeds, email and chat streams, endless timeline updates make workers chasers of productivity.

If you must, schedule a time to read the papers (or your digital subscription) in the morning, check again at noon if it’s a developing story and then at night while preparing dinner. The same goes for your trade journals and newsletters. What I mean is, when have you ever read everything you subscribed to, whether in print or online? National news won’t stop streaming news if you stopped opening your digital version or marked it for reading ‘later’.

Pay attention.

{If you noticed the photo of my Samsung E1272 analog phone, you’ll see my diary. Yes, I still write on notebooks and scratch pads made of 100% recycled paper.} When I am on a call or when I meet with folks at work, I bring a pen and a notepad. Give my full attention. Take notes. List action items. Follow-up call schedule. That’s it.

Anything that needs to be sent through the computer can be done before and after the meeting, not during.

When I’m hosting a walk-thru/demo or presenting to a group using an online meeting application, that’s the only time I fire up the laptop. But I still have my pen and paper within easy reach. Opening more than the needed applications during these types of meetings or presentations takes away my attention from recognizing voice cues and body language of the people we I’m trying to engage and whose attention I’m trying to capture. Attentiveness and effective listening needs quiet .

Try attending a webinar or a conference call while sifting through your email, answering instant messages and going through last week’s status of deliverables. Now, try presiding over your weekly meeting while the people in attendance all look down on their phones or type away on their laptops. How does that look to you?

Bad practice. Bad. Stop doing it.

Are we playing phone tag? Put gaps between your appointments!

Back-to-back slots that don’t give you enough time to come up for air will leave you frazzled and ineffective. Personally, I don’t schedule ‘working’ lunch meetings or dinner meetings unless it is to enjoy the company of a client, whether old or new. Getting to know clients helps me understand them better and gives me insights on how to make working with them more collaborative, productive and successful. I reserve discussions about project details for the office–whether online or face-to-face.

Sure I get weird stares when I get asked why I won’t work during lunch. My take is this: It’s for the same reason I wouldn’t expect to chew while I’m on the phone talking about content plans and how embedding Google Analytics code in your website works. {Plus it could break the heart of the chef if, judging by how the working crowd paid attention to each other, the meal appeared bland and boring.}

The trade-off when I study like I owed it to myself. At 40.

A couple of days ago I received an acceptance letter at HBX CORe program.

I’m stoked and excited at this great opportunity to work with like-minded professionals from all over the world! More than the whole experience of studying again, my elation comes from

simply learning with the best educators in the world. 18 weeks of learning starts in July.

Earlier this month, I completed a crash course and got a Diploma in Digital Marketing . >>

Between both of these learning pursuits, the real world of work continues its demands for my time and attention: persona work for one more client; around 10 published blog posts; half a dozen premium content assets; 3 white papers; maybe a half dozen infographics and a couple of new websites.

The cogs in my head were cranking out research and production drafts and revisions with such fluidity it was like second nature. Of course, that didn’t mean I never hit a brick wall or get stuck. In which case, the trick was to put my reliable Mac to sleep and to walk around the block over to my favorite cafe to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and get lost in the book I’m currently reading.

Before I get off my soapbox let me share four things I learned this month:

  1. Secret to successful marketing . K-I-S-S: Employ the best (applicable) marketing methods using technology/tools in order to efficiently gather useful data. Use data to find ways to present options and solutions clearly to those who need them.
  2. Attention can never be automated. Time away from the glare of computer or phone screens really does wonders and clears your mind of unnecessary clutter.
  3. Be present. Here instead of out there. Connection is established when the message being sent isn’t only loud and visible, but more importantly, relatable and personal.
  4. Sometimes, the best way to get attention is to be quiet and to listen. And to listen well.

Have a great weekend!


*If you’re wondering who Becky, Maria, Paul and Vincent are, they’re my fictional personas.