Saturday Morning Rounds June 27, 2020 - Where to focus your attention when there's so much coming at you (just say "NOP")

Posted by BossB, MD on June 27, 2020
BossB, MD

First, a quick request

We're currently creating a resource to guide med students through the residency discernment and interview process, and we could really use your input to ensure that it's as helpful for them as possible. We only have a few quick questions:

  • What did you do that worked really well?
  • What do you wish you'd known or done that you didn't?
  • We design our solutions around the people who will use them - do you know any MS4s or early-stage residents that we should interview 1:1?
  • What else we should ask that we haven't?

If you'd prefer to take this as a survey instead of just responding to the email, you can do so here. Thanks!!

What we're reading

If you're anything like us, you're consuming a lot more news than you usually do.

And if you're consuming more news than usual lately, you're probably also noticing that the pace and emotional pitch of the news have gone up exponentially.

This creates a tension.

On the one hand, it's important to stay informed of what's happening - especially during times like these when EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING and it is all truly important and the stakes are high and there's real work to be done.

On the other hand, simply keeping up with the news has inadvertently plugged us into a 24hr cortisol drip - it's an exhausting effort that's been shown to cause increases in anxiety, depression, helplessness, stress, and pretty much everything else you don't want.

So we've got a devil's brew of high stakes, real-world consequences, infinite information to sort and process, rapid pace, and volatile emotions. 

You know what else shares those qualities? Negotiations. And luckily for us, the strategy for both is the same.

It's all about deciding where to direct your attention BEFORE you're in the mix.

Our "tip of the week"  will address that question when it comes to business conversations, but when it comes to your informational diet, the process is the same:

  • Narrow - Choose just 1 trusted general information/news source
  • Organize - Every input by a simple yes/no question: "is it actionable?"
    • If so, proceed the next step
    • If not, resolve to skim it quickly and move on
  • Perform or Plan
    • Perform - If it is actionable and takes <2min, just do it right then and there (for the news, this might mean sharing the article, signing a petition, etc)
    • If it is actionable but takes >2min, immediately plan a time for it on your calendar so that you'll (a) avoid it rattling around your mental to-do list, (b) avoid having it fall through the cracks, and (c) realize in the process that it's probably not as essential as you might have thought

We like shortcuts and acronyms around here, and this handy little one is easy to remember by thinking "just say NOP (Narrow, Organize, Perform or Plan)."

Which is the polar opposite of its close homonym and the default operating system of most this newsletters' readers, "just say Knope"

Who we're following 

If you're ready to narrow down your new sources, it can be difficult nowadays to find one that's high in data and low in opinion or spin. Our current favorite is Quartz (@qz), specifically the Quartz Daily Brief. The daily newsletter shines in our opinion because it is:

  • More impartial and data-driven than anything we've seen
  • More globally focused than most sources
  • Easily digestible in just a minute or two each morning

Their daily email generally opens with headlines from around the world, progresses on to curated summaries of that day's best thought/interest/opinion pieces (with links if you wanna dive deeper), and then ends with something fun or interactive. We love it - and they didn't even pay us to say that - so if you're currently looking for a news "home," we definitely recommend you check them out.

BBMD tip of the week

We've learned how to "just say NOP" to too many news sources, but how do we do so to the deluge of information and emotion that can so easily overwhelm us during a negotiation?

We're glad you asked.

  • Narrow - Your focus down to just your counterpart
    • We call this being "other-centered," and it's the place from whence all good comes in a negotiation because your counterpart is (a) the most important source of information in that moment and (b) the person you most need to influence in that moment to maximize your outcome
  • Organize - Every piece of information for its effect on 2 things:
    • Informational Advantage - Can this help you to gain a piece of pertinent information about your counterpart that your counterpart doesn't yet know about you (ie what they're willing to pay vs what you're willing to accept - you want to know their number first)?
    • Emotional Resonance - Can this help you increase the feeling of "vibing" with each other (ie can you use this piece of information to create a sense of promise, excitement, and mutual goodwill)?
  • Perform or Plan - Whether to dive down each rabbit hole as it presents itself
    • There are a lot of distracting thoughts that come up in consciousness during a negotiation, and most of us just dive into them immediately because we don't know better - so next time, take a moment to pause and actually decide whether something is worth exploring and will add value to the conversation; if not, just write it down so you can get it out of your head, note it as something to maybe come back to, and then return to step one by re-narrowing your focus back on your counterpart
Quote we're contemplating

“What is your heart worth?
What about your time?
What holds your heart, holds your attention.
What holds your attention, holds your time.
What holds your time, holds your life."

- Eric Overby

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PPS - As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions by replying to this email (we read 'em all) or getting at us via Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!