Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 39 in total
Small wins make you more productive, creative, committed, collegial, and focused. When you track the progress you’ve made, no matter how small, you gain confidence that builds on the momentum. With an incremental approach, you take daily actions that move you in the right direction, instead of take big leaps that are more likely to steer you off course.
We’ve all experienced loss in some shape or form. It could be the loss of a dream job, a friend moving away, a health crisis, or a change in lifestyle that you didn’t plan for. The death of a loved one is a very painful experience. It’s hard to even say the word "death" in this context. The end of a life is so final, so permanent, and so irreversible. We call it a loss to soften the blow, to help ourselves or the other person feel better. The pain of such a loss – when experienced fully instead of being buried with busyness and distractions – is life-changing.
When you’re acquiring and developing a new skill, you need to learn how to learn. Learning is a meta-skill for life and for sustaining peak performance. This continuation of a two-parts episode builds on the foundation principles covered in Episode 36.
When you’re learning and developing any skill, it’s better to have a growth mindset, than a fixed mindset. Talent and natural ability do matter. But your attitude towards failure and setbacks are more critical. There are two modes of learning theories: entity versus incremental theories of intelligence. Entity theorists think, "I am smart at this." Success or failure is based on an ingrained ability. Intelligence or skill is a fixed entity. Incremental theorists think, "I got it because I worked hard.” Success or failure depends on effort. Intelligence or skill can be developed.
Making space between activities can be done solo, without allies. But industry norms and workplace culture might pull you back into chronic busyness. Norms are standards or principles of action that apply to a group. A culture is made up of norms. Effective leadership from the top reduces the burden on individuals who seek to have more margin in their day.
To do creative, high-leverage work, you need to step back and look at the big picture. But when there are fires to put out, demands to meet, and crises to solve, it’s hard to stop and think about what’s really important. When we zoom out though, we find that urgency doesn’t equal a true emergency. Many of the things we did should have waited until another day, or maybe another week. Some required more thought before action. And maybe the problem would have resolved itself. Take strategic pauses to avoid burning yourself out. A pause doesn’t have to be that long.
Industrialization created a clock time mentality. Time is now standardized, visible in the ticking minutes, and outside our existence. Time is a resource to make money, and a thing to be traded, maximized and optimized. So, you end up with busyness, overwhelm, and pressure. And you feel guilty when there’s margin. This is where time management falls short. It doesn’t really answer the existential question of what really matters.
We often get stressed and anxious when the thing we want done is not done. We want what we want now. We don’t like waiting. Patience is sometimes seen as an anti-skill that wastes time, or a sign of indecisiveness or lack of power and autonomy. But in today’s fast paced world where overwhelm is common and immediate gratification is expected, patience is a superpower.
If you want to get to the next level, you need willpower to make creative breakthroughs and steady progress. Don’t you? After all, willpower helps you to beat distractions and delay gratification to make wise choices. But willpower is limited. It gets depleted the more you use it and as the day goes on. While you could do certain things to boost and improve willpower, you could also shape your environment so you don’t need it. Your situation and circumstances either encourage or discourage positive change.
2020 was an especially challenging year. And this year continues to require some extra effort to start and finish things that matter. Even if you’ve built a business for yourself (like I did), you can still have creative exhaustion and feel trapped by your work. Maintaining discipline is more critical than having motivation. Preserve your energy and leave some fuel in the tank. Steady, daily progress through discipline allows you to cultivate long-term motivation. When you have autonomy, discretion, rewards that you value, social support, fair policies, and meaningful work, you feel more engaged and less burnt out.
Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy for discovering your purpose and building self-awareness. Your ikigai is something that gives you a sense of purpose. It sustains you and matches with your heartfelt desires and personal definition of success. It’s not always about goals or accomplishments.
To gain traction and execute better on your goals, start with a 12-week action plan instead of a longer term, annual plan. Rather than wait an entire year to track progress and measure results, you do a formal review every 12 weeks. And in the 13th week, you make a plan for the next 12 weeks. As part of your routine, you score the week, plan the week, and participate in weekly accountability meetings (WAM). Stay accountable by owning your thinking, choices and actions. Keep your commitments by uncovering hidden intentions, internal contradictions and big assumptions that undermine your desired behavior.
If you’re resisting what you need to accomplish, you might have given yourself too much time to execute your plans. New Year’s Resolutions and annual goals rarely get you to where you need to be and create the life you want. Move out of annual thinking and adopt the 12 Week Year. With this planning technique, a year is no longer 12 months; it's 12 weeks. 1 year = 12 weeks, 1 month = 1 week, and 1 week = 1 day. You are no longer focusing on distant annual goals broken into 4 periods or quarters.
Stress is not always bad. It comes with having big goals and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Going off to college, starting a new job, traveling to a foreign country, or launching a business trigger stress. And they also bring feelings of excitement, confidence and achievement. It’s the chronic, persistent, negative stress that you need to watch out for.
When you’re making a decision on tough problems, you are always missing key information. Every decision is biased because it’s based on limited beliefs, assumptions and data points. You can never be sure of the outcome. Being uncertain can be a key to success because it opens you up to new ideas, insights and information to create the best possible future. Thinking in bets improves your decision-making.
If you want to have a happier, more satisfying life, it’s better to value time over money. It doesn’t matter whether you’re financially secure or financially struggling. Even when you control for income level, the more time affluence you have, the happier you are. Time affluence is feeling that you have enough time to pursue meaningful activities and enjoy leisure. You can exercise, move, relax, travel, volunteer, or engage in social relationships more.
We often believe we need credentials to do useful or valuable work. Whether it’s having a college degree, a training certificate, or a professional license, credentials help us seem less like an imposter. But we’re all imposters on some level when we work on hard problems with no easy answers. Do, ship and repeat if you want to make things better with creative work. You don’t always need credentials to start.
It’s common to believe that any problem can be solved with hard, heads-down work. While diligence and determination are elements of success, you could also seek to make essential tasks easier to do.
A hobby is an activity you enjoy doing with little or no focus on the long game or the end results. You do it for fun or leisure in your free time. When you already have a full schedule with many obligations and demands to meet, why would you add a hobby to it? If a hobby is something you can live without, why even bother having one? There are many reasons to find and keep a hobby you love.
While intensity ebbs and flows, consistency is steadier and more sustainable. Even when you feel unmotivated, you can keep taking daily actions to get to where you need to be. You stack up good habits and routines and take small steps to start the project or finish it. Small, smart actions - done consistently over time - lead to big improvements. This is the power of the Compound Effect.
In the competitive, industrial or post-industrial world, productivity is often defined by a simple formula: Output / Input. (Output is ideal output x efficiency). Or Value of Work / Hours Worked. You have metrics like revenue per employee, revenue per hour, and units produced per hour. From this angle, productivity seems more fitting for machines. But there’s a more positive aspect that is not easily measured. Productivity means being engaged in doing the things you really want to do and doing them really well. It means being empowered to design a well-lived life, which sparks big memories out of tiny moments.
The space between the small tasks and the big goals is the sweet spot. It’s where you savor the moment (the now), while you say no to things that don’t matter and yes to the things that do. To get off the Busyness Bandwagon, stay out of Infinity Pools, and make time for what matters, you choose your highlight for the day. Then apply laser focus, energize and reflect.
We all write on some level. We write research papers, articles, blog posts, essays, books, memos, reports and the daily, basic stuff. Students, academic researchers, lawyers and content creators, for example, write a lot. Even if you don’t consider writing a part of your profession or vocation, your ability to take notes on what you learn will carry you forward.
Email processing is a repeated behavior and repetitive action. Email is a habit-forming tool. It's a key method for communication, collaboration and information sharing. You need to know how to use it to make essential progress without getting sidetracked by other people’s agendas.
The evening is your P.M. bookend to your day. Your evening routine is your “me time” at night that helps you to unwind, quiet the nervous system and prepare for sleep. How you end your day is essential to recharging from it.
Your morning is your A.M. bookend to your day. A morning routine can help you get the clarity and structure you need every day, wherever you are. How you start your day is key to taking charge of it.
An effective to-do list helps you take action on the right priorities at the right time. But if yours leaves you feeling overwhelmed and uninspired, you need to change how you make it. How do you make a to-do list so it brings a sense of calm and keeps you focused on what matters? How do you make it work for you instead of against you?
When you’re working on a complex problem, how do you innovate and fix it? Is it better to generate creative insights or to use logical reasoning? You need both for creative problem solving. You spark ideas and explore multiple solutions with Divergent Thinking. You analyze ideas and choose the best solution with Convergent Thinking.
To learn new concepts and skills, you need to engage both the focused mode and diffused mode of thinking. Learning is a meta skill that allows you to turn information into intelligence and knowledge into expertise. If you know how to learn, you can broaden your passions and not just follow existing ones.
Do you feel like rest is a waste of time? Is it just a reward for the hard work you do? Do you measure your success by how busy you are? To have a productive and well-lived life, you need to layer high-cognitive, focused work with recovery and reflection. Deliberate rest is just as important as deep work.
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