This post on the Fast Company blog got me to thinking about managing databases (surprise, surprise!).

The blog post discusses the idea that “lollygagging” may be the best way to find breakthrough ideas. That is, NOT working may help the creative process.

A similar things happens when it comes to managing our database versus actually using the data. Simply put, when we spend all of our time working on getting data in and out of the database, we don’t spend any time thinking about how we might use the data in the database more effectively.

For example, I frequently discuss with my clients the concept of “opt out categories.” That is, rather than having a wholesale opt out for all association email communications, the emails are categorized so that members and customers may opt out of certain types of emails, but not all emails. So for example, a member might choose to opt out of all government relations types of emails but continue to receive events promotions.

Most everyone I talk with agrees that this is a smart way to go. Unfortunately, this is usually followed by “We’re too busy just trying to manage the day-to-day data to set up a system like that.”

This is an example of working too hard. After all, if we spend all of our time processing data but little to no time using the data, what’s the point?

We’ve got to find the time to use our database and the data it contains in a smart manner. And maybe lollygagging is the way to go.