Learning Vs. Earning At Work: A Value Comparison
When you take a job, they give you resources like money in exchange for your resources, like time.
When you take a job, they give you resources like money in exchange for your resources, like time.
"Vagueness is the opposite of useful," Geoffrey James writes for Inc. “The clearer the goal, the more convincing your e-mail will be.”
Can a 500-year-old, 5-minute technique help you manage your day (Catholicism not required)?
Chris Lowney, who went from being a Jesuit seminarian to a managing director at JP Morgan, writes about the practice for HBR. It’s simple enough: You just make five minutes in the middle of your day and again at the end for a quick check-in with yourself. Lowney describes the practice in three steps:
There are little pockets of solitude in any schedule. You just have to know how to find them.
As Nate Silver describes in
The Signal and the Noise, there’s a difference between knowledge and information. Knowledge is a verifiable, articulated signal, while information is ambiguous, coarse noise. And if we’re going to make wise decisions and awesome products, we need the signal, the knowledge.
But you don’t need to be Nate Silver to know that a key to processing signal versus noise in your own head is by having enough space and time to think. And as Ben Casnocha notes on LinkedIn, even us Twitter-addled technorati can find a little headspace. It’s not that you need to pull a Rodin and put your fist in your forehead—though style points if you do—instead, he says, you want to “obliquely engage” in two kinds of thought jogging—directed and undirected thinking.
Directed thinking is what happens when you take that monkey mind of yours and give it a job to do, like understand itself.
Do something with a minor mental load and let your mind creatively wander.
Because a bunch of people slumping into their iPhones never got anything done anyway.
Want to get more done in the next hour? Take 5 minutes to read this.
There might be some productivity-minded part of you that scoffs at the whole idea of reading about how to be more productive. After all, why would you read about doingwhen you could do?
Well, you can tell that part of you to stop being so addicted to being right and acknowledge that you can work smarter, not just harder. And when you can tap a multitude of perspectives of how to work smarter, you can get extremely productive.
Alice Boyes at Psychology Today has done that by gathering the productivity insights of a range of psychologists. Let’s unpack a few here.
"Without realizing it, I spent years trying to be productive in the most unproductive way," says Susan Newman, “sitting at a desk for hours.”
Now she de-tethers by getting away from the office. She finds that moving around—be it to grab a cup of coffee, water a planet, or take a walk, makes her sharper. While it runs against what Anne Marie Slaughter calls “time macho” culture—“a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, travel around the world and bill the extra hours that the international date line affords you”—more and more research shows that if you spend less time doing, you can get more done.
L. Kevin Chapman starts his productivity quest by closing the door to his office. While he likes to welcome colleagues and students, closing the door ensures that he stays on task. The next move: scheduling the tasks he wants to avoid. If he puts the put-off tasks into his schedule (and sets reminders on all devices), he is sure to tackle what needs to get done. “Action precedes motivation,” Chapman says. “These small steps facilitate more action and lead to me feeling accomplished.” And apps can help, too.
"Plan exercise breaks," advises Craig Malkin. “Stress leads to binary (either/or) thinking, distractability, and procrastination.”
We know at least one company that’s putting that into practice. Why does stress relief help you get better work done? You’ll stay sharp, Malkin says, and you’ll boost your capacity for creative problem solving. That’s because creativity is a mammalian trait—and the protective parts of you won’t let it come out unless you feel safe.
We’ve discussed how where you work affects the work that you do, like how if you’re cold, you’re being physically distracted from the task at hand. Similarly, what you associate with your environment affects what happens there.
That’s why you should work in a place you associate with work, says Amy Przeworski, like an office building, library, cafe, or maybe a coworking space. If you need to keep your attention on something for a long time, it’s going to be hard to do so in a place you usually relax in—ever notice how you can’t work as well in the family room?
"Your surroundings set the stage for your focus," Przeworski says. "If they are associated with work, you will focus on work."
The space can also make your work a pleasure—that’s how Susan Cain sidesteps writer’s block. The Quiet author trained herself to love writing by “always writing in a beautiful cafe while drinking a latte and eating a chocolate chip cookie”—that’s one sweet way to love your work.
Kristine Anthis says that while you can’t always decide what projects you take on, when you do—like your college major or if your boss lets you select from a range of assignments—go after what you’re most interested in. It worked for her.
"Being passionate about what I do means that juggling the demands of teaching, writing, mentoring students, conducting research, and serving on committees is not necessarily always effortless," she says, "but certainly gratifying."
It’s also how you know if you have a career—or just a job.
[Image: Flickr user botterli]
At the Wall Street Journal, Arianna Huffington writes that Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In has unleashed a range of conversations—including what world, exactly, is being leaned into.
To Huffington, we’re failing to understand the nature of success.
"This is a great moment…to acknowledge that the current male-dominated model of success isn’t working for women," she writes, "and it’s not working for men, either."
Pretty tightly wound. Huffington notes that self-reported stress has gone up for both sexes in the past 30 years—18 percent for women, 25 percent for men. A recent Harvard Medical School study estimated that U.S. companies lose $63.2 billion to sleep deprivation every year. And women, Huffington notes, are more likely to feel stressed at work.
With our current “time macho” culture, we’ve got stressed-out leaders in politics, business, and media making awful decisions.
"What they lack is not smarts but wisdom," she says. "And it’s much harder to tap into your wisdom, recognizing the icebergs before they hit the Titanic—a big part of leadership—when you’re running on empty."
Huffington calls upon a lovely French phrase: reculer pour mieux sauter, which loosely translates as lean back to jump higher. Or in other words,relax and you’ll be more productive.
For Huffington, what’s missing is measurement:
We need a third metric, based on our well-being, our health, our ability to unplug and recharge and renew ourselves, and to find joy in both our job and the rest of our life. Ultimately, success is not about money or position, but about living the life you want, not just the life you settle for.
And as Leslie Perlow notes, workaholics aren’t addicted to work—they’re need addicted to validation. So let’s change the validation structure.
[Image by Flickr user Penn State/Patrick Mansell]
When the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them, it’s your opportunity to show them how much insight, moxie, and knowledge you have stored up. Here’s your playbook.
Beyond showing how you’d hit the ground running—and helping the interviewer to picture you doing so—this question will preview what the working state of the gig is like.
This question will help you further fill in your forecast: Self-starting might mean you have little guidance; collaborative may mean you’ll be mired in meetings. Also, Gregorio notes, ask this will help the interviewer crack his or her robo-scanning and see you as a whole person.
Ask this and you’ll learn why the last guy lost the gig—plus get a fuller picture of what your potential employer counts as success. (Then, when you get the job, make those goals happen.)
"This question might take interviewers back a bit," Gregorio says, "but their answer will be telling." If they respond with an automatic yes! then you’re probably entering into a positive culture (or talking to someone in denial), and if they look askance and search for meaning, chances are there’s a storm a-brewing beneath the interview-y sheen.
Inviting a critique shows you can handle feedback, Gregorio says, and it lets the interviewers give voice to any worries they might have about you.
What else should you ask during an interview? Let us know in the comments.
[Image: Flickr user John Morgan]
We all know happier companies make more money—and nothing makes for happier employees than learning how to show real gratitude for what they do. Here are some pointers to get you started today.
Goulston lays out three steps for getting good at giving gratitude:
Developing a sense of how to show gratitude is a leadership key—one that can help you (and your employees) reach their potential.
Here’s the full story. Want more?
"Your first job is not only about showing that you can get the job done," Thorin Klosowski writes at Lifehacker. After the thrill of the hire and the trial of negotiation, the maiden voyage begins—one in which you’ll need all the connections and tricks of the trade that you can develop from the beginning.
When you’re starting out at a new gig, you’re naturally going to be doing low-level work for you employers—meaning that your dazzling gifts are going to be muted for a minute. The best way you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the entry-level gaggle is by hustling harder than anybody else—and rejoicing in it.
It’s all about those little trust-building details that will be foundational to your working relationships and your personal brand: you need to always be on time (or early) and make all your deadlines, enabled by the subtle arts of organization. Keeping your desk clean—literally and metaphorically—will signal that you’re dependable.
Meet everyone. Have lunch. Make friends. Form bonds. Gain trust.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get the job done right the first time—and you can do that by asking process questions as set out on the task.
[Image: Flickr user Namelas Frade]