Starting the new year with a bloated inbox and a saturated newsfeed populated with marketing content? Making space for valuable information could leave you feeling a little lighter.
Like most in the western hemisphere, chances are you’ll be returning to work this week and doing two things.
First you’ll be making a pledge to go easy on the food and drink, desperate to lose the kilos you put on over the festive period of over-consumption.
If you’re the “new year, new you” type, or received the Marie Kodo book for Christmas, you’ll be purging your inbox. Maybe you’ll also be taking a look at the folder you call “insight” or “reports.” That whitepaper you downloaded five years ago, the category-defining report about an emerging trend which is now old hat, or market predictions which are as useful as last year’s weather forecast. They’re all in there.
For anyone who started work in the age of information scarcity (say pre-2004), the behaviour is hard-wired into our psyche. Knowledge is power, right? The more knowledge you have, the more power you have.
Then something happened towards the last part of the decade. Information became ubiquitous, and content became part of B2B marketing strategies, second only to paid search in spend and importance- Google trends showing the steady increase since 2013. Instead of rare information living in a small number of high-value printed documents, useful insight started to become a way to engage clients and set out your thinking and experience. Content replaced the ad as the preferred way of attracting new clients.
The result? We became bloated, seizing on content and storing it. We rarely consume it and almost never use it in a structured way to inform decisions. Instead, detailed, comprehensive reports lie, gathering digital dust on hard drives and sharepoints, waiting for the moment it will form the killer slide (it rarely does). Or for you to delete it five years after downloading.
So Now What?
We’ve spent the last three years pioneering the Breakthrough Strategy approach. When we come to formulate strategies, our “understand” sprint relies on getting just the right amount of information to make decisions. Here’s what we’ve learned and we recommend you do:
Make Time and Space. Set a time, place - and a way - to read what you’ve downloaded each week. It can be as little as 20 minutes. Hint: your laptop or desktop is unlikely to be the best place. And it will take you half the time you think.
Capture as You Go. Chances are you’ll never read that report again. Highlight relevant content, stats and points as you go. Then use the amazing Sumnotes to extract what’s relevant to you.
Focus on Action. Ask what actions you and your organisation can take in a week or a month as a result of reading whatever is in front of you now.
It’s highly likely you already have, or can quickly access, the information you need to make good decisions. Use it now, not next year.
Use what you have to hand now and act on it. Maybe next year you won’t be shaking off those spare kilos of insight next January.