I facepalm thinking about it now. Years ago, when I’d create consumer insights reports, I’d start by trying to crank out as many PowerPoint slides as I could. It felt like I was being productive, but as it turns out, I was completely wasting what little time I had between the end of fielding and the panic-inducingly tight deadline.
Fast-forward to today, and I’ve developed a far more efficient process that removes the panic and cuts insights analysis time in half. Rather than starting with an outline or messy slides, my clients start with a quick-and-dirty-freeform-yet-loosely-structured-totally-doesn’t-have-to-be-perfect brain dump.
They tell me they really enjoy this part, especially because there’s no designing, formatting, editing or outlining. Just focus on unloading everything you think, know, and understand about the research. Every finding, every connection you’ve made, the conversations you’ve had, your impressions, your gut reactions, emerging themes, the really smart quote that guy in your focus group said. No judging, no second-guessing, no editing, and no slides.
But what about the other things on your mind? There’s a lot I’m sure. Your other projects, random administrative issues, that thing going on with your car, that thing going on with your pet, an upcoming appointment, a date this weekend….it’s all stuff your mind is “working on” even if you’re consciously trying not to focus on it. You’re trying to focus on getting this deck out the door!
So what do we do? We push them aside. Try not to think about them. “I don’t have time for that right now—I’ll deal with it later.”
But that stuff matters too, and it seems like the more you try to shove them down, the more they keep forcing themselves back into your mind.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
Rather than dealing with your stuff later, we’ll write about them first, before you start diving in to creating slides and all the rest of it.
It might seem counterintuitive to think about your check engine light before you think about your deck, but A Harvard study found that writing free-form about what’s on your mind (your “worries”) before completing a task can “offload” those thoughts and free up mental resources that you can then use to be even more productive on the task you want to complete.
So this exercise is about taking a few minutes to take good care of you first. It’s an exercise in relieving yourself of the burden of keeping too much information in your head.
It’ll take about you 10-15 minutes, and will pay dividends in increased focus and productivity.
Grab it here, try it today, and let me know what you think.