Being up to date

James Gardner has a good post on staying up to date. His point is that if you don’t bother to follow the latest developments – which might mean doing so in your own, not work, time – then you’re going to be left behind:

2010 is going to be a performance – not an experience – competition. That’s why I said the other day that I think people who are connected are going to get all the rewards this year. It’s going to be about making things happen, and that means you need an in-between.

‘In-between’ is James’ term for the time spent doing kind-of worky stuff at home. That might be reading work related books, or blogs for example. It could be tinkering with stuff – or it could even be just thinking.

This resonates with me. When I had a proper job in local government, I’d do my job, then get home and spend at least a couple of hours a night reading, scanning the web for new, interesting stuff and blogging about it. I’d play with technology, trying things out – most of which didn’t work, but some things did.

When talking about using the web as a tool to improve government, a response is often that people don’t have time to engage with all the content that is online. I usually make up something conciliatory as a response, that perhaps if something is useful, then you find time – or that you replace less productive activity with the new ways of working.

But the brutal truth is that if you don’t find the time in your schedule, which may or may not be when you are at home, or perhaps on the train, or whenever, then there is a chance you’ll be left behind. Someone will be doing it, and they will know stuff you don’t.

This could well end up being a problem for you.

11 thoughts on “Being up to date”

  1. But don’t you sometimes need to step back and do something totally different? My best thinking is done in one of two ways: when I’m really focused on something AND when I’m not focused on it at all. That said, Continued Professional Development is no longer about an annual training course. It’s definitely about day to day in-between stuff. I find Twitter, Google Reader and apps like Newsie and Instapaper invaluable for those in-between commuter / bus stop moments. But there are boundaries. If you saturate your free moments with doing stuff, they cease to be free and all too quickly it becomes unproductive.

  2. I read James interesting post and and his appropriated term ‘In-Betweeners’ and your blog post in support of his thinking. Though one rationale for his keeping up to date was “I am in a competition with my peers” would have preferred if he was in co-operation with his peers. Red braces, the city and competition is the image that word conjures up.

    Some of what you cite in your post I do myself but keeping up to date can become an obsession that takes over. Sometime you have to accept that things will just pass you by. Your tweet back to me “that if people want to be innovators and stay ahead, they have to make it practical. No excuses!” sets the bar high perhaps people just want to be aware of what is going on around them in social media and not not be innovators. Or become digital monks, dedicated, always on and leading us all out of the digital darkness.

  3. Shane,

    When I say “competition” with my peers, it really isn’t something from the city. It’s competition in a good way – a mutually supportive way. Its motivating. We don’t do it to win.

    An the In-Between doesn’t mean being a digital monk, as so many people, including the owner of this blog – have proved.

    In-between (term): You have prompted me to check Google. A marvel comic book character, I had no idea. I shall post an update to my original post momentarily.

  4. This is something I’m struggling with a bit at the moment. I’m up to about 100 feeds in Google Reader, I’ve got several Google Alerts set up, I look at a lot of the links I get via the folk I follow on Twitter, I’m signed up for numerous electronic bulletins and of course there’s also the old fashioned hard copy publications that I’m on distribution lists for.

    Why so much? Well, my day job is primarily knowledge management and digital comms – to be effective in my job I need to keep up with developments in those. And these days that includes related areas like social media, web management, marketing, communities of practice, etc. I also deliver training and facilitate at events – so I need to be on top of what’s happening in learning and development. My bit of government is housing and regeneration – regeneration in particular is a multi headed hydra (which touches on areas of health, the environment, education, transport, welfare and others). And to be effective in my job I also need to be reasonably up to speed with what’s going on in other areas of the government.

    As a requirement for my CPD I need to keep up to date with all things ‘library and information’ – which these days is another monster with many heads. I also have a particular professional interest in information literacy – which leads me into related areas, including other literacies (media and digital to name just two), digital inclusion, lifelong learning…I could go on…:-)

    Just to be clear, it’s not a matter of filtering – I’m a librarian, I know how to filter. Everything I read has relevance to what I do, there’s just an awful lot of it! Doesn’t help that these are fields in which lots of people have lots to say!

    Most of my reading is done on the way to and from work (I have a fairly long commute) and at home. And to an extent, I’m OK with the fact that the professional bleeds into the personal. I enjoy my job and I find all of this stuff really interesting. But, it’s got to the point recently where my feeds and emails are backed up and the floor of my study is covered with piles of reports, articles, etc that I’ve yet to read. I actually spent a couple of hours on Christmas Day catching up on my feeds. Which is not necessarily worrying in itself as the alternative was watching back to back soaps! And I do still have a reasonably active social life – I’m certainly not a digital monk (nun?). But I don’t do some of the stuff I used to (eg, painting and other arty stuff which I used to do a lot of) and a lot less of my reading is purely for personal purposes. I’m beginning to worry that I’m turning into a rather one dimensional person! So, my one and only New Years resolution is to try to get more focused and cut back on some of this stuff…but I’m not really sure yet what’s going to get the heave ho.

    [Dave, it might help if you’d post interesting stuff a bit less often! :-)]

  5. My wife has recently forbidden iPhone tinkering in the evening. I don’t blame her. It must be annoying, but them’s the in between times!

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