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Productivity & Work Tech Writing

Paper just works

Touching is believing. That’s why bullet journals are all the rage.

People want to slow down and get everything from their worries, random thoughts, weekend plans, shopping lists, gift ideas, blog topics, exercise schedules, etc., all down and out on paper.

Writes Mike Vardy in his piece Why Paper Works:

Paper works because it is only limited by what you’re willing to put on (and into) it. Paper provides an escape from your devices and does so without compromising your ability to get things done. Paper is safe and secure in that it can be both lifesaving and disposable depending on the circumstances. Paper is versatile, compatible and portable. Paper — simply put — just works.

Focus is scarce. It’s hard to think with clarity in a world that tempts us to scroll mindlessly through candy-colored apps. Boring is the new interesting.

A simple pen and paper ask for our attention. And we give it.

Longform doesn’t squander our best thoughts to the latest social media refresh. The handwritten word complements the learning process.

Digital is where we source the ideas and paper is where we write them down and connect the dots.

When we use analog and digital tools with intent, they tend to complement each other.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work Quotes

How to sustain momentum when we’re already on a roll

 

rick rubin

We all know what it feels like to be on a roll. The enthusiasm synchs up with the effort to produce a feeling of flow. The vibe is right.

But what goes up must come down

Inspiration ebbs. Motivation falters. Humans are inconsistent.

Advises record producer and co-founder of Def Jam Records Rick Rubin:

“When on a roll of any kind, always maintain it as long as possible. Momentum isn’t always easy to conjure.”

The dip is inevitable. To sustain momentum, consider that discipline is the backbone of motivation. Habits push us on the days we don’t feel like working.

Like an improvisational jazz player, we’re always in tune, ready before it’s time.

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Arts Productivity & Work

Toward perennial

thinking without thinking gif
@koba-illustration

All we are trying to do is get people to slow down in this fast-paced, dizzying world, and consider our work.

First, we have to earn attention. Then, we have to win trust. Then, we have to convince people to come back without a carrot, flash, or a prompt.

Standing out in a world of ubiquitous ads, SEO hacks, and influencer polluters are hard. 

The machines give people what they think they want: more vulgarity. 

People are unaware of what they want and why they want it.

The dopamine-spitting hooks cultivating attention may be killer. But they’ve already outlined their destination to the end.

Honest, timeless work comes pre-optimized. It races to the top, albeit more in the pace of a tortoise rather than a hare.

Categories
Culture Productivity & Work Tech Video

‘The right to disconnect’ 📱

Stop working from home and get some rest. Even better, plan some unscheduled time.

Sincerely,

France

Wait, what?

On January 1st of this year, France passed the ‘right to disconnect‘ law which enforces a digital diet outside working hours. The rule prohibits employers from calling or emailing employees during personal time. France already imposes 35-hour works weeks.

It’s still too early to tell if French citizens are actually abiding by the rule meant to restore sanity in our always-on culture. But the intent is the right one: we need to create more space for relaxation. Keep in mind that our brains are working even when they’re powered off 💤. Disconnecting is a right, even if it feels a little foreign to put to rectangular glow aside

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Books Productivity & Work Quotes

We are ‘brilliant only in tiny bursts’

linchpin

“The law of linchpin leverage: The more value you create in your job, the fewer clock minutes of labor you actually spend creating that value. In other words, most of the time, you’re not being brilliant. Most of the time, you do stuff that ordinary people could do.

A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do.

It might take a lot of tinkering or low-level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears that the art is created in a moment, not in tiny increments.”

Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

It often appears that discoveries come out of the blue when in fact, they are the result of consistently doing the work. In other words, big results are the upshot of small things with focus and with care. There is no such thing as overnight success.

Keep dripping.

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Productivity & Work Tech

The tools of our tools

Technology is not neutral. FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) wants to make all decisions for us and dissolve us into all-consuming bots while the machines do all the thinking and making.

Humans are workers, not to be hedonistic jobless throwaways. 

We seek meaning and identify ourselves through our labor. But our biggest misconception is presuming that the job we don’t like also defines us. The only benefit to rising automation is that it opens up opportunities to do what people enjoy. 

The artist Brian Eno once offered this prescient advice: ‘Try not to get a job.’  

By not working for cash, we can follow our deepest passions, thereby subverting the Sex and Cash theory that says that we must toil in our office cubicles so we can do what we intend to on the side.

“Men have become the tools of their tools,” quipped Thoreau, who was lucky enough to leave his job for Walden’s pond because he enjoyed the relief of a big bank account. 

As Frank Chimeo once tweeted, “Thoreau had enough money to go to Walden Pond because he revolutionized production methods at his father’s pencil factory.”

The book of nature has no choice but to accept the permanent integration of Frankensteins and robots. 

Those enthusiastic and creative, especially those augmented by brain chips, will still find meaningful work and develop an abstract relationship alongside the programmatic and ultra-productive automatons. 

Categories
Life & Philosophy Sports

An Olympian’s guide to managing stress

When you aim for the donut hole, you’ll certainly miss it. The obsession with victory backfires. Says Olympic biathlete Clare Egan on hitting the last of five targets:

“‘If I hit this, I’ll win the gold medal’ — as soon as you have that thought, you’re definitely going to miss it. That extra push or desire to win is not only not helpful, it’s counterproductive. You have to eliminate that from your mind and focus on the task.”



When you compete against others, you also impede your ability to get the job done. Says Egan:

“I think such a big part of this is focusing on what you are doing. You have to let go of how everyone else is doing, and focus on your own work.”

The lizard brain wants you to compete out of fear. The monkey mind wants to you to assay your inner monologue. Ambition trips you up.

The mental game is just as important as the physical one. Focusing on process rather than pursuit may give you a better chance at achieving victory.

Read How to Manage Stress Like an Olympic Biathlete

Categories
Productivity & Work Psychology Science

The simple technique that boosts your short and long-term memory

giphy (71)
via giphy

Want to remember more of what you read? Give your brain a 10-15 minute rest. No phones, no distractions, just pure boredom, a quiet room and dimmed lights.

Why do we need to reduce interference?

It takes longer for new information to encode and simply consuming more or squandering time on social media will make it even hard to remember.

When we let the mind wander, the brain works backward and connects the dots, cementing those memories that were previously unlinked.

So stop chasing extra stimulation and let your brain rest in its own presence. Your memory will thank you for it.

Read An effortless way to improve your memory

 

 

Categories
Productivity & Work

Take a break and debug yourself

The work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it just keeps coming. Your productivity will ebb and flow to the whims of the daily grind.

But there is one thing you can do to bring back your focus: take a break.

“Taking regular short breaks, of even just one minute, gets you out of habitual thinking and behavior. It provides you space for awareness to arise and to see things clearer.”

A simple break may also release you from the prison of traditional thinking. Our dominant thoughts aren’t always the best ones.

As Umberto Eco reminds us: “We like lists because we don’t want to die.” But in order to stay alive, we also need to destress and unthink.

There will always be another chance to ride the wave of opportunity. A clear mind may increase your chances of surfing the right one.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Open spaces, closed doors

Everything is design. 

While cubicles emerged as the “action office,” they created an environment antithesis to work. Says Dilbert creator Scott Adams, ‘cubicles are like prisons.’ Cubicles are anti-work; they impede collaboration.

If companies want to create more office conversation, they have to make the conditions for more office collisions. Thus, the open space design became the standard model for companies looking to encourage idea-sharing. 

Work Working GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Open spaces increase the chances of overhearing something important, clarifying a miscommunication, and leading to the next great business opportunity. Multiple bump-in discussions have replaced those at the water cooler, keeping potential email threads from getting out of hand.

Human interaction is still vital to the workplace. One gets more from speaking with a co-worker for a few minutes than they do via structured meetings and email recaps containing a list of myriad “next steps.”

Serendipity is the name of the game.

In theory, overcommunication should save employees from having to attend extra meetings and send superfluous emails. But open spaces do come with invasiveness that can “can cause workers to do a turtle.” No wonder coders and copy-writers throw on noise-canceling headphones to cancel out the extra noise. 

Open offices have come to resemble a chaotic classroom. External conversations crimp the thinking voice inside a person’s head. Perhaps that’s why working from home is still the most productive space of them all

Working from home allows workers to build a space they can call their own. While the internet and email are always on, the door can be closed at any time for silence so that one can do deep work. 

The cubicle and the open office beg for distractions. Isn’t the point of work to get stuff done and ship?