3 comms lifehacks that give you clear direction

Life is complex.

When you spend every day talking about your industry, it can be tempting to follow the default path you know best.

We’re creatures of habit and given half a chance, our well-meaning brains will always steer us towards the comfy slippers of familiarity.

You need to regularly review your approach and ask whether it’s still the right one.

In the interest of practicing what I preach, I did this by taking the communications principles I recommend to clients and applying them to my own life.

Like any self-obsessed millennial, I find there's no better guinea pig than me.

The results are worth sharing.

So here are 3 simple lifehacks, drawn from communications principles.

Lifehacks inspired by communications

1. Set goals (big ones)
I spent much of my youth without a plan. Mornings turned into afternoons, days to weeks and months to years.

Looking back it’s easy to see why it felt like I was being left behind as others seemingly breezed through life. I didn’t know where I was going.

Before even getting into the what and how, a communications strategy starts with where. Where are you now and where do you want to go?

Goals can be broken down into manageable steps, so make sure you start big.

I bought a whiteboard from a 100 yen store in Tokyo that sits by my bathroom mirror. It lists my big goals for the year and smaller ones for the month, week and day. I look at it every time I brush my teeth. Each item crossed off is a step closer to where I want to go.

2. Know your audience
Everyone talking and nobody listening. That’s how my Dad described the dinner table when my two sisters and I were growing up.

Communicating effectively is 90% listening and 10% speaking. Listening means taking time to understand the other person’s interests.

We help clients listen first by researching keywords and polling opinion before defining a target audience in terms of demographics, perceptions and interests - then we have a conversation. 

Knowing your audience is how you win by helping others.

Win-win is a such a simple concept that most of us think we’re doing it, even when we’re not.

Next time you talk with a friend or colleague, ask yourself first what is the one thing they want most right now and how can you help them get it. You’ll be surprised how quickly relationships improve and life suddenly bursts with productivity.

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 3. Track results
I first started lifting weights when I was living in Bangkok. My apartment had its own gym so I was running out of excuses. I’d work up a sweat and feel good afterwards, but I never seemed to get results. After almost a year with my muscles still no closer to the superhero vision in my head, I was close to giving up. But not before I gave it one last push.

After a client agrees their communications goal and audience, we always establish strict benchmarks and targets to monitor each week. If the numbers don’t add up, it’s time to change the approach. The more data the better.

What gets measured gets managed. Failing to track results makes it impossible to find success.

Back in the gym I followed a training routine for 90 days and stuck to it. I recorded how much weight and how many reps I could lift for each exercise. I weighed myself every morning and tracked the weekly average. I monitored what I was eating and experimented with calories and macros.

Then something magical happened. The swathe of numbers transformed into clear messages telling me what I needed to do. It became impossible not to make progress.

There you have it. Three easy lifehacks you can start implementing in your life today. Let me know if they become effective habits for you too.

Mark Smith

Smith & Edit, Minato, Tokyo,