What Snapchat Teaches Us About Productivity
As of today, Snapchat touts a $16 billion dollar valuation and boasts a 100 million users.
There’s no question that Snapchat is revolutionizing the practice of social media.
But, Snapchat can also teach you about improving your productivity and enhancing the valuation of your time.
Limit your choices.
With only 15 channels, Snapchat’s content is selective and limited. So, follow Snapchat’s example - limit your choices. Because, according to David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, your capacity to make decisions and solve problems is limited by your energy-hungry prefrontal cortex. There’s a limit to how much information can be held in the mind and manipulated at one time. Reduce the number of choices you have for breakfast in the morning, the number of pairs of pants and shirts you have to wear and the number of pens you keep on your desk. Standardize email responses using templates. Ruthlessly limit as many choices or decisions you need to make throughout your day to optimize your brain functioning.
Unlike Twitter and YouTube, Snapchat is not willing to leave to chance what its users see or how long they can see it – creating a specific and finite time window which you must maximize. So, where are you leaving to chance how your time will be invested each day? Before the start of your day, identify the one, two or three specific items you will focus on during the day. Ensure that there is time on your calendar dedicated to completing these items, even if this means that you need to decline a meeting or only attend a portion of a meeting. Get clear on what is at stake if you say yes and no to the myriad of requests that will come at you during the day. Eliminate that chance that something else may hijack your time and attention; because if you don’t take control of your time, someone else will.
Direct your behavior.
Snapchat’s user experience training is a simple model - users either see it or miss out. All its features support and direct desired user behavior . Consider strategically creating a specific environment that supports and directs the behavior you want. To minimize interruptions, turn off the new email notification alarm. To minimize rework, use email rules to automatically respond, file and delete incoming messages. Avoid distraction by forwarding emails from specific people to your cell phone via text. To reduce screen distractions use Isolator, an application for Macs that can completely hide other windows and blur everything behind your active window. If you are a Windows user, use JediConcentrate. When you enter concentrate mode, the window you are working on is illuminated and the rest stays dark.
This concept from Snapchat is powerful because it requires us to focus in a world where we are frequently blind to the power of situations. People have a systematic tendency to ignore the situational forces that shape behavior. This is called “Fundamental Attribution Error” - a phrase coined by Stanford psychologist Lee Ross. The error lies in our inclination to attribute behavior to the way we are rather than to the situation we are in. Structure your work environment so that it works for you, not against you.
Focus on the content.
Snapchat’s core is clear – it myopically focuses on its content ruthlessly curating and creating original, fresh, unique content. It does not get distracted from that core – high quality, engaging content. To optimize your time spend and improve your productivity, get clear on your core - focus on the content of your life. What is your unique contribution to your organization? What do you do better than anyone else in your company? What knowledge, skills and experiences have you not capitalized on to build your brand?
Now, reallocate your time spend so that a majority of the 168 hours you have each week are spent focusing on your unique value or cultivating your unique value. And, to create space on your calendar for the reallocation of your time, create a stop doing list. Take a hard, critical look at your projects and tasks and ask yourself if each project is still relevant, adding value and directly tied to your goals or your organization’s goals. If a project is not, it gets eliminated. You can go and earn more money later, but you will never get your time back. Focus on the content of your life.
Snapchat has an incredibly strong and powerful valuation, but – guess what? So do you; so does your time, energy, and attention. Think about how you can you limit your choices, eliminate chance, direct your behavior, and focus on the content to increase your life’s, your time’s, and your attention’s valuation. Your life is waiting; so, snap to it now – before it disappears.