Daily Research 101
– a six step guide to mastering your area of interest
I’m often asked how we find all the great speakers for The Conference. The short answer is, it takes a year. It’s actually, if I may, a quite good answer, also revealing my fundamental belief in time as the single most important ingredient when creating a highly curated context for knowledge sharing.
My research method is based on daily reading. I’ve learned that it is better to always be in the loop than to try to catch up every now and then, it makes it easier to find patterns and to reach goals like gender equality and multiple perspectives.
Here’s a 6 step guide to mastering your field of interest with daily research.
1. Define topics
First things first. Without knowing what you look for, you’ll soon get lost and have a hard time to discern trends over time. Try to be specific and rather think about factors (business models, globalization, streaming etc) that affect what you do than industries (music, games etc). You will discover that the same factors affect many different industries and that different perspectives on the same trend gives you a better picture of it.
Start off by thinking about which topics really matters to your goal. Pull out a bunch of post its and jot down 2–5 topics. Think about them as folders you can later organize what you read in.
*Pro tip: Invite a bunch from your network to workshop what topics is crucial to keep track of in the coming years*
2. Find sources
Finding the right sources to follow is probably the hardest of the six steps. My best tip is not to get stuck here. See it as an ever evolving process. Start with a couple of sources you’ve got recommended. Remember that quality trumps quantity, the big blogs post hundreds of articles per day, skip them and look for more in-depth sources.
When you bump in to a great source, make sure you have a structured way of finding your way back to it. I use Feedly to follow blogs. It allows me to not have to return to the source every day to check if there’s something new. Add your sources to folders in your Feedly named after the topics you’re interested in.
Also, look out for a few daily/weekly newsletters to follow. These are the ones you never ever miss to read. I strongly recommend MediaRedefined if you’re into entrepreneurship, new business models etc.
Along with following people on Twitter and Facebook you will have a solid net to catch the preferred fish in.
*Pro tip: Put together lists on Twitter with people you know share good stuff often and have a folder in Feedly with your favorite feeds, sources you never want to miss a post from (aka. the folder you go to if you only have 10 minutes).*
3. Read, watch, listen
When you’re up and running, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to pull up your phone to browse your feeds during the day. Yes, scheduling time for research is vital indeed but don’t underestimate the time you spend in cues, at the toilet (yes), commuting. With Feedly on your phone you can easily browse the latest posts.
*Pro tip: Settle a routine, 20 min a day that as your research time. I stop by a coffee shop on my way to work every day to start the day with both fresh thoughts and enlightening conversations.
Probably the most neglected and easy to forget yet super important step in your research process. You read too much to be able to remember everything. I use Delicious to bookmark and tag links I find interesting. Besides knowing where to find what you read last year, this is also a great tool to monitor trends and tendencies over time. For example, if you’ve tagged 20 articles with work and time, you know there’s a discussion about how to be more efficient at work going on.
5. Ask + observe
The era of the lonely genius is long gone. In order to truly understand our complex world you need to get your ass off the chair and go out in the world. Invite people home for dinner and buy people coffee. Ask about the topics you’re interested in, what matters to them right now and how they envision the future of their fields.
When you’re back at the desk you can get into your digital comfort zone again and gather people that share the same interests as you in a Facebook group to have an ongoing conversation about common interest fields.
6. Reflect + Share
Ok. Final and most important step. Expressing what you learn forces you to really reflect on what you’ve read. Tweet, blog, lecture. Get your newly won findings out of your system. Inspire others to keep sharing.
I love Buffer for sharing daily favorites in our social media channels. Just publish in one place and the service automatically share your post during the course of the day and across platforms.
What interests you?
Please share your ideas for topics and speakers to The Conference. Our main themes are human behavior, new technology and how to carry out ideas. We invite everything from brain scientist to entrepreneurs via designers and artists. Send us an email with your recommendations and ideas.