Getting interviews is a numbers game, here’s how to play it
I’d never heard of the Pareto principle until about a year ago, and then, on some podcast, it came up, and then someone else in a book mentioned it, and then, I watched a talk on YouTube, and it cropped up again. Meanwhile, I’ve been to a conference and someone used it in their speech.
So many people were talking about it because it’s one of those weird principles the stacks up in fleeting ways, without all the hard and fast statistics. It has applied neatly to my brute force approach to setting up interviews too.
The Pareto principle is known as the 80/20 rule. It’s usually applied in economics and computing, but I’ve also come across it in online marketing. Basically, for every 80 people you send an email to 20 will open it.
Weirdly, I just opened up my email marketing software to check, and the average open rate on my emails is 28%. So that means that out of every 100 people, 28 people open my emails. Wait, that’s scarily close to 80/20.
I’ve been applying this same principle to the interview requests for the research on my second book and, well, you guessed right that calculation is once again emerging. Of the 40-odd applications, I got ten responses, and of from those responses, two committed. No way!
I’m not superstitious, or anything but knowing that the Pareto principle is at work gives me peace of mind. Think about it, if you put in 100 requests, you can expect 25 responses, and so you know what to work with. Of those 25 responses, in the end, you’ll probably get 6 to commit. You know what? Fine by me, that means I have to send out more interview requests and find a system to make that quick, easy and painless (maybe I’ll tackle that in another post!).
If you want to learn about an industry, something complex like blockchain, or wish to understand whether journalism can survive in a digital age, you need to talk to the people. You can, of course, read reams of articles and books on the subject but a more natural and faster way is to talk to 10 people in the industry with in-depth knowledge. So, if you want 12.5 interviews send out 50 requests and watch your success rate soar.
The better your system for getting interviews, the more you’ll learn, and the more you’ll be able to write. It is that simple.
How to stick to your best-laid plans
You might think that taking holiday snaps is an unlikely place to consider time management but its not. You've allocated time to go on holiday, and you're fully immersed in taking pictures and having fun.
That, in essence, is time management. I plan to do this at this time and then, time cometh, I do. It is that simple, but unfortunately, those daily and weekly plans often go awry.
The problem is if you're not on holiday you don't like sticking to your plans. You're not having fun. It's the daily grind, after all, but or more likely, you're not fully immersed in what you are doing.
When you're exploring the world, you're engaged in the moment. You should take that feeling into everything you do. It's a sort of calm acceptance of the task at hand.
You need to carry that feeling into all the engagements you set up and put in your calendar. That's how I manage my time. I block the time, and then I just get to work.
You wouldn't just abandon your planned vacation, would you? So why abandon all those great intentions to improve yourself, like eating right, exercising, career planning, blogging, why even time management?
You can't or don't want to stick to it. You're attention starved. You're distracted. You're phone buzzed. You're dreaming. You're thinking about dinner, but you haven't had breakfast. You're not in the moment.
Use whatever time management hacks you need, like time blocking on your calendar, a productivity planner, a bullet journal, a tomato timer to get the job done but once you've put the activity on the list, see life through the lens of the present moment.
I use big blocks of time and allocate them to major areas of my life: career, family, and personal growth. I have time built-in every week in a rough plan and then fit in (cram?) events of the week in.
The problem is not creating the templates and blocking off the time in the calendar; it's sticking to those times and then immersing myself in those activities without feeling lousy or missing a beat.
Managing the calendar is actually a task I do on Sundays. I don't worry about it much during the week, but if I don't do it on Sundays, my week gets chaotic.
There are a ton of moving parts managing several calendars including my wife's, my daughter's and my own. In doing so, I can review weekly and monthly goals and keep on task and on track.
See? Even time management is just a thing I do on Sundays and then it's done, I don't worry about it the rest of the week.
B.C. (before children) as we call it around here, I was frivolous with my time. I didn't have to be disciplined, I didn't respect my own time, and I wasn't intentional about what I did with my time.
That was fine but I want to get a lot done without burning out. So when I choose to play an hour of Xbox, what I am doing is intentionally deciding to immerse myself in that activity because I know it will help me relax.
I choose to get up at 5 am because I know I have 90min of me-time.
I choose to walk the dog several times a day because it balances out my desk-bound work.
I choose to work harder in the times that I'm at my desk because I know I only have a limited amount of time in the day to get work done.
This is not discipline. This is a choice, a choice to balance out my day. You may not want balance, but I do.
When I work, I work. I even build in social media time because I enjoy engaging but I try not to let it take over. I'm not an automon and other people's holiday snaps are enticing, after all.
Time management is about figuring out where to go on your next holiday. You're intentional about that why not take the same approach to all other aspects of your life and once you've laid out those plans, accept your place in the order of things you've created.
Sticking to self-imposed calendar items is not quite a holiday but it certainly is liberating to know where you need to be and what you should be doing.
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