What stories people read and shared in 2014 (Fast Company version)

In addition to blogging here, I’ve been writing three stories a week for the past year and a half over at Fast Company’s website. This has been a fun gig partly because the potential audience reach is so huge. When I see that something is being shared broadly, I know it is resonating with people. That’s often a sign it’s worth writing about more. Here are a few of my most-shared posts from 2014 over there.

How Busy People Make Time To Read, And You Can Too. I know, from doing time makeovers, that wanting more time to read is a close-to-universal desire. Like exercise (and mentoring), it’s one of those things we claim we’d do if only we had the time. And yet some busy people do make time to read. In this post I introduce the “demand” and “supply” aspects of leisure time. Not only do you need a supply of minutes in which to read, people who are regular readers navigate the demand part too. That is, they always have stuff around that they want to read. When you’ve got a page turner, you make magical amounts of time appear. I quoted Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy in this post, and she reports that she’s been asked, in non-blogging contexts, if this is her. Such is the fun of a post that has been shared 17,000+ times.

How To Master The Fine Art Of Small Talk. I’m a bit more surprised by this one, but it’s now been shared 12,000+ times. I interviewed Debra Fine, who wrote a book on this topic, and got some suggestions for chatting at parties and networking events. The key is being relaxed (low expectations!), being prepared (having a few subjects to talk about), and knowing the right sorts of questions to ask. I’m not particularly good at this sort of chatting. Apparently, neither are a lot of other people, which explains the post’s popularity.

The Post-Bedtime Ritual Of Successful Working Parents. In this post, I wrote about working at night after the kids go to bed, and my finding, from the Mosaic Project (the book that still doesn’t have a name), that about 45 percent of women used this strategy. It’s a good way to log long hours while still seeing your kids, though it has some obvious downsides as well. I guess a lot of people could relate. I would see tweets where people said “this is exactly what I do.” This post has actually been shared more times than the excerpt from What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (which went up in 2012). That is saying something.  

10 Habits That Make Everyone Hate You On Social Media. While I think this is a decent post with some helpful tips, I’m pretty sure this one’s popularity is all about the headline. I have managed to squeeze every online click-bait technique into 10 little words. It is a list! It’s about habits! It’s framed as a negative, and people are drawn to articles about things they might be doing wrong. Plus, it’s about social media, which means that people who are active on social media, and who want to share content about their area of expertise, are highly likely to share this with their large quantities of followers and friends.

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