New Year’s Resolutions For Smart People

by Jason Falls |

Normally I shun the predictable posts, leaving them up to some of the other authors here. I’m not a fan of following the crowd and, somehow, popping off “trends to watch” and “New Year’s Resolutions” themes seems unoriginal to me. Sometimes, being unoriginal is, to me, the worst thing I could be with respect to you, fair reader.

I’ve also grown weary of the formulaic blog posts. Top Fives and Tens and Sevens and How Tos … all link bait. Yeah, they work. But they’ve become the cookie cutter, Mad Lib processed meat — dare I say “spam” — of the blogosphere. Typically, I’m happy to let Social Media Examiner, MarketingProfs and HubSpot have ’em.

But then I saw that the first post of the New Year fell on one of my days to write, and it happened to be the day after New Year’s. Like everyone else, I’ve been thinking a lot about what to ch for ange myself in 2012, what I’d like to accomplish and how I’d like to improve. Taking much of the last two weeks off, I’ve also had some time to think about what we could all do this year.

So here’s my formulaic blog post to usher in 2012. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be so predictable, I’ll get a lot of back links/retweets/shares/+1s and win gold stars from a few senseless blog competitions and rankings. Heh.

Five Resolutions For 2012

Budget Your Time

Jason Falls's Infamous BrowLast week, I blocked off two hours every morning on my 2012 calendar to work on Social Media Explorer business. I then blocked off another two hours every afternoon for the same. I added in some other stuff, too. I’ve left a window each day of approximately two hours to fit in any phone calls, meetings, demos, pitches or anything else that doesn’t have a direct impact on my company’s bottom line. Sure, I need to learn about new products, consider side-projects and the like, but I don’t have to do any of them at the expense of my primary role: to run and make money for Social Media Explorer. So this year, I’m not going to let those distractions get in the way.

I suggest you do the same. Don’t like meetings? Block your time off for “work” or “writing” or “follow up calls” with your respective stakeholders. Don’t let people schedule so much of your time you don’t get any work done each day. Sure, I own my business, so I can afford to do that, but if you work for someone else you can still say, “From 9-11 each morning, I need time to get work done. I can do meetings starting at 11.” Yeah, flexibility will be imperative for you, but stand your ground and stop taking so much work home or after hours.

Get Out Of Your Inbox

Since bringing Aaron Marshall on board at SME, almost everything that happens for our events, our consulting or our soon-to-be launched research product happens on either Yammer or Highrise. If I get an email from Aaron, it’s normally something of a personal nature or a reminder to go to Yammer or HighRise and check something off.  As a result, I spend less time in my inbox and more time getting the real work that needs to be done, done.

You can do the same. Whether it’s using a collaboration tool like Yammer, Sharepoint, Salesforce’s Chatter, a private Facebook group, Google Docs or whatever your company or department chooses to use, create a space where your primary work can be conducted in collaboration with those you need on the projects. Condition your fellow workers to log everything in the platform of choice so you have an audit trail and so you can stay out of the inbox.

Every 10 seconds you’re in the inbox, you spend probably seven browsing stuff unrelated to why you’re actually there. So get the important stuff out of it and focus.

Consume Content

For those of you who blog, Tweet or produce content for yourself or your companies, don’t forget that you need fuel for that engine. And it doesn’t always have to be work-related fuel. Don’t get me wrong, I like to listen to Marketing Over Coffee, read blogs from other digital marketing smart cookies, thumb through Fast Company and read a new good book as much as any of us. But I also like to watch CBS Sunday Morning, listen to Fresh Air and read baseball books. All of them inspire my writing and thinking.

Carve out some time to consume content, too. And do so beyond the work world. Read a novel, watch a bad movie, listen to a new artist’s music. Feed your brain so it can in turn feed your audience better.

Take Care Of You

I’d venture to guess I’m not alone in the fact I disregard my health and well-being to instead work a little more, juggle family obligations and the like. One of my new calendar items (see Budget Your Time, above) is an hour and a half each day for exercise. I’m doing so, along with dieting, under a close supervision program with a physician who specializes in taking health-ignorant people like me and training them to be not-so. Consuming content (also above) is another way I’m going to take care of me this year. My plan is to get through more Christopher Moore books than marketing books in 2012. They make me laugh, which is healthy, too.

And while I may be sacrificing a little time and attention that might normally go to my wife and children to do all this (okay, more honestly, I’m sacrificing time I’d be staying up late writing), I know that taking care of myself will give me more time with them in the long run.

You need to take care of you, too. Maybe you don’t get enough sleep. (Try quitting caffeine. I did in September. Sleep is much longer and more consistent now.) Maybe you need to socialize with people in real life more. Perhaps getting to the gym or eating better is something you need help with. You’re never going to do it until you make a conscious choice to do so, then follow that choice up with the effort to make it happen. No excuses. No one to blame but you. Get it done, gang.

Measure Everything

This might seem like an effort to come full circle back to work. And it is, but it isn’t. Measure everything we’ve talked about here. I’m going to keep track of how much and how often I read non-work-related content. I’m writing down everything I eat and counting calories associated. For my Explore events, I’m assigning unique URLs to various ticket promotions and campaigns so I can better know what PR got me as opposed to LinkedIn advertising and the like.

If you don’t measure, you’ll never know if you accomplished it. So sit down, look at your goal and ask, “How can I measure progress here?” Then build that activity into your calendar, to-do list or routine. Do it for work and for play. Then look at your results each week so you’ll know where you’re hitting your stride, and where you’re missing it.

What Are Your Resolutions?

The only other resolution I have this year is to not laugh at Dane Cook. Figured I’d set a very accomplishable goal to boost my confidence. Heh.

But what are your resolutions? What are your work ones versus your personal ones? How are you going to measure them? And do you have those measurement systems built into your routine? Tell us what you want to accomplish in 2012. Maybe you can come back to this post and the comments periodically to help keep you focused.

Regardless of your resolutions, here’s hoping we all kick ass in 2012.

Have You Registered For Explore Dallas-Fort Worth?

Don’t miss a day of intensive learning with some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the digital marketing and social media marketing space. Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, Edison Research’s Tom Webster, Edelman Digital’s Zena Weist and more headline one of the leading digital and social media marketing events of 2012, February 17 in Dallas, Texas! DON’T WAIT TO REGISTER! The first 100 to do so get an incredible discount! Reserve your seat today!

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).