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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Jul 6, 2014

In this episode, I’m in The Lab with Jason Abbruzzese, a Business Reporter at Mashable. He covers the media and telecom industries with a particular focus on how the Internet is changing these markets and impacting consumers. Prior to working at Mashable, Jason served as Markets Reporter and Web Producer at the Financial Times. 

Discussion with Jason:

Q. How did you land at Mashable?

A. I had just gotten to one of those places that you get to sometimes in your career where you are looking over your options. Mashable had hired a new editor, Jim Roberts, who used to be at the NY Times. I also got a really good vibe for everything they had going here. I’ve been on since December 2013.

Q. How do you stay on top of emerging trends and still get work done?

A. It was initially very tough…but you start to learn the companies and understand the different angles. It comes with getting a feel for the industry you’re covering. My biggest tool is Twitter and Tweetdeck.

Q. Do you have any go-to sources for information?

A. SCOTUSblog, Pew Research, Jim Romenesko, BTIG Research

Q. How do you manage email?

A. I use it in a to-do list format. I don’t delete any email…because the search function is really powerful. It is a challenge to stay on top of.

Q. What are some of your favorite tools you’re using right now - apps, time management, etc.?

A. LastPass for passwords, Tweetdeck, Google Calendar.

Q. Are there any trends you’re currently enjoying covering?

A. The sharing economy among newer companies like Uber, Air BnB…it will be interesting to watch as these companies grow…people will be looking for ways to doubt them…and it will be interesting see how they handle them.

Q. What has been one of your favorite pieces to work on?

A story on AOL Instant Messenger (because it was one of the first online tools he used).

Q. What is the best way for entrepreneurs with a story to reach you?

A. He said a company that can come to him with an idea about a larger trend they are seeing in the industry, or something that impacts a large number of people, he is more open to that than just news about a smaller company doing something. It has to add value in some way.

The epic goat video referenced during this interview:

Biz Hack:This week’s biz hack is all about how to be more productive. There are so many theories, tools and productivity hacks out there, and it truly is about finding what works best for you, but you also have to look at where you may be wasting your time. A recent study into productivity, compiled from 3 years of research by a London Business School professor and productivity expert, looked at where "knowledge workers" are misspending their time and why.

They found knowledge workers spent, on average, 41 percent of their time on discretionary activities that offered little personal satisfaction and could be handled competently by someone else. Why do we do this? Because these tasks make us feel busy, and thus important. But we have to retrain our thinking…remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of our work yields 80 percent of the results. The key is to find which tasks fall into that 20 percent. (If you want to learn more about the 80/20 rule and mastering it, check out “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss.)

The researchers behind this study suggest a few ways to offload these low-value tasks, and thus be more productive. First understand which tasks can be eliminated or offloaded by determining if they are truly important to you or your business, and secondly if the task can be easily delegated, dropped or outsourced. Start by making a list of every single task you do. This might take a couple days. Try to carry a small notebook with you and write down what you do throughout the day. You might be surprised how long your list gets when you do this as opposed to trying to write them down from memory.

Once you’ve got your list, the authors of the study recommend dividing the tasks you don’t necessarily need to do into three categories:

  • Quick kills - these are tasks you can stop doing without any negative effects
  • Off-load opportunities - tasks that can be easily delegated
  • Long-term redesign - these are tasks that may be part of a larger structure, that may require some deeper reorganization. i.e. it may be time to rethink the process. Can it be made easier?

Once you’ve categorized them, immediately stop doing the quick kills, and if you don’t have someone in place you can offload to and you’re not in a position to hire anyone, look to options like oDesk, a local independent contractor or a virtual assistant. Chris Ducker has a great resource called Virtual Staff Finder, which I’ll link to in the show notes.

From there look at your processes…can they be simplified or automated. There are a ton of automation tools out there like Boomerang for Gmail, of If This Then That, or Active Campaign for marketing. Now you’ll just have to figure out why to do with all your extra time…maybe you can spend it on this week’s action item.

Action Item:Now that you’ve got your task management program in place, and hopefully offloaded some of your tasks to others, your action item is to schedule time daily or weekly for your ONE thing. (Check out episode 5 for the ONE thing.) Actually scheduling time in your calendar for your ONE thing is incredibly powerful. I like to schedule mine as the first thing I do each morning. I wake up an hour early just to work on this. The mornings work for me because it feels like the quiet before the storm. Find a time that works for you and try to eliminate all other distractions. Close down email, Twitter, Facebook, everything you can, and focus on working on your ONE thing.

Quote of the Week: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers