Trashy Thoughts for Clear-Minded Communicators

TrashSelfieEvery day we throw something out, tossing it into the garbage or recycling bin without much thought. At home, we cart the trash can up to the curb (or have our kids do it) and go on with our lives.

Meanwhile, back at the office, we are letting a lot of work garbage pile up. We hold onto projects, ideas and missions that are starting to stink up the place. Either we feel we can’t toss them out or we just don’t think about the notion that some ideas expire, that products or campaigns need to be sun-setted.

As Joe Pulizzi, entrepreneur and founder of Content Marketing World (CMW), told the crowd at the latest CMW show last week: “We have to clear the garbage that stops us from achieving our goals.”

To that end, he implored the audience to take on the habit of Record-Repeat-Remove:

Record/write down your goal and how you will achieve it.

Repeat that activity daily – it can take 9 to 18 months to see real results. And as you are doing all this…

Remove the stuff that is getting in the way of achieving that goal.

Easier said than done.

I found it interesting that among the most tweeted quotes from Content Marketing World last week was Pulizzi sharing that “on average, it takes 66 days for a person to make a new task a habit.” People loved that stat because it not only rings true, but it resonates for each of us.

So, what garbage do you need to clear out?

Now, I concede that “garbage” is a rather harsh word for some of the habits and initiatives we are partake in and take pride in. By the way, Pulizzi is not referring to human beings as garbage.

As a communicator, your garbage might include:

  • A campaign that is no longer resonating with your stakeholders but you still have budget to spend on it, so what the heck, you keep doing it. And it stinks.
  • Partnerships that are one-sided and taking up a lot of your time and your team’s time. Time to change the litter.
  • A dashboard with sketchy KPIs – such as ad value equivalencies or even, in many cases, likes and followers. Garbage in, garbage out.

These are just three examples; I know you have a lot more garbage to toss. Some of this is mental garbage, like not understanding that Communications plays as critical a role in an organization’s success as Marketing or Sales does. You think your role is subservient to another role? It will be.

It make take you 66 days to break out of that thought and another year to see actual success, but really, how many of us will dedicate 12 hours to binge-watching a TV show (hello, Handmaid's Tale), or scroll Instagram for hours on end, or take time to learn a new hobby? You’ve actually got the time to establish new habits that will advance you and your business but you might need to do some Removing.

One of the key elements of this Record-Repeat-Remove exercise is focusing in on what matters. It is such a basic and simple premise that the actual implementation is complicated and difficult to achieve.

As we head into 2019 planning and budgeting season, it’s a good time to try this out. Be vigilant about clearing out the garbage in your work life so your mission as a communicator becomes crystal clear and you enter 2019 smelling like roses.

- Diane Schwartz