Go ahead, spend five more hours on that report that nobody will ever read


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Why are we in a constant rush? What’s the specific compelling event behind every stressed driver, commuter or walker? Why is it that the more we can do with our time, the more we feel we are wasting it?

Meeting overload Do you remember the emails we exchanged back in 1998? What happened to their elaborate prose? They were replaced by two-paragraph messages first, one-liners next.

Do you remember the times when we carefully read manuals before operating our newly acquired home appliance? Not to mention the fact that we used to read the contracts we signed!

How about the fact that you are most likely to spend less than ten seconds on this blog post? This means the average visitor will only quickly scan its contents to shake off a feeling of guilt prior to sharing it on Twitter or LinkedIn.

We have heard it a hundred times: This is the world of instant gratification. We are adapting our brains and lives to extreme multitasking. We have invented (and prescribed against) Attention Deficit Disorder and Daniel Goleman is asking us to “focus”. But there is no way back.

Along the way we witness the crumbling pillars of the ancient, patient world we once knew. They still make chess boards. We can find travel agencies, TV repair shops, coal miners, rapeseed-fried hot dogs…

And we build reports on spreadsheets.

So, quite simply:

  • Are you a time-poor executive who simply cannot afford to read a 40-tab Excel report prior to the very start of a meeting? Then accept that you do not need so much information. Be brave enough to request a few critical metrics and commit to be held accountable by them.
  • Are you a frustrated analyst, professional report-builder or “data compiler”? Then understand that times have changed and rebel. People need fewer metrics and more insights. And it is not your job to manually craft status updates for a trillion micro-metrics.

We will one day look back and miss many things: Libraries, newspapers, letters, yoghurt-makers…

Excel reports will not be one of them 🙂

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Sergio Maldonado

Founder & Chairman at Sweetspot. Author, speaker on analytics, marketing technology, privacy compliance. JD, LLM (Internet law). Once a dually-admitted lawyer. Father of three. I love surfing and cooking.

Add a comment

David McKendry

I read it all, but then again I remember all those things.

Published on , 8:31 pm   

Sergio Maldonado

Good one, Nathan 🙂 We will definitely miss people with your level of attention one day too… (you’re up there with the yoghourt makers)

@Tim: Thanks for the positive comment!

Published on , 4:40 pm   

Nathan Easom

Enjoyed the article. For the record, I did read it in full (circa 45 secs?) and didn’t share 🙂

Published on , 6:38 pm   

Tim Waring

Great punchy blog post as so true of modern day life.

Published on , 3:49 pm   

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