Challenge: a day without distraction

Here are the rules: All work must be done in blocks of at least 30 minutes.

If I start editing a paper, for example, I have to spend at least 30 minutes editing. If I need to complete a small task, like handing in a form, I have to spend at least 30 minutes doing small tasks.

See the conclusions here.

Sneak preview:

if you survive the annoyance, (…) your work will be of a much higher quality.

We’re busy. We hurry. Are we missing moments?

I read this from Emerson in a post on busyness:

Life goes headlong. Each of us is always to be found hurrying headlong in the chase of some fact, hunted by some fear or command behind us. Suddenly we meet a friend. We pause. Our hurry & embarrassment look ridiculous.

Now pause, now possession is required, and the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity. The moment is all, in all noble relations.

and it reminded me (in choice of words and in content) of one of my favorite passages from Hamlet:

 If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.

More here.

See also:

 

We work too much. And it’s our fault

 

America works too much. Half of salaried workers report putting in at least 50 hours a week, and surveys of white collar professionals report even higher figures. Long hours deplete our ability to make good choices and make it harder to fit in a full night of sleep. As a result, workers are less productive, less healthy, even less ethical.

(…)

Management seems intent on imposing long hours on workers, regardless of overtime rules, which isn’t surprising given that managers are often working brutal hours themselves. In fact, the cult of overwork is as much cultural as economic. As a paper on overtime in Britain put it, “the overtime premium is essentially the outcome of established custom and practice,” just one more aspect of the labor market that depends, at least in part, on social norms.

More here.

On the power of analyzing what you do

 

Don’t recreate what just worked. Analyze the process you went through to create that result.

If you go for the result, it ain’t gonna work. It might, but it’s luck, it’s not technique. Process.

From a master class here.

See also the reflective power of keeping a journal.

Ernest Hemingway’s suggested readings

These are readings Hemingway recommended to a young person aspiring to be a writer. The whole story here.

Links for the book will take you to Project Gutenberg.

Start with the light

Doc Searls on his blog.

So where does [architect] Bill Patrick start, working unassisted by computer?

“I start with the light,” he says. “I say ‘where do we want the light?'”

We wanted our light coming from the direction of our hilltop view toward San Francisco Bay. We also wanted to enjoy that light outdoors as well as inside the house. The result is a lot of glass on every floor facing the Bay, and a deck or balcony outside every room on the Bay side the house. The roof is nearly flat, to maximize interior space within the local limits on roof height above grade, and the whole thing is not only beautiful, but unlike anything else, anywhere. It expresses Bill’s art, and it reflects our original intentions.

In other words, it’s a creation, not a replication or a variation. I also can’t imagine seeing this house as a template for anything else.

The same principle applies for any communicative act – letter, email, text, talk, presentation, etc. Start with the light; with what the purpose of the act is. And work backwards from there.

More here.

Want to Be a Leader? Keep a Journal.

 

Research has documented that outstanding leaders take time to reflect. Their success depends on the ability to access their unique perspective and bring it to their decisions and sense-making every day.

Extraordinary leadership is rooted in several capabilities: seeing before others see, understanding before others understand, and acting before others act. A leader’s unique perspective is an important source of creativity and competitive advantage. But the reality is that most of us live such fast-paced, frenzied lives that we fail to leave time to actually listen to ourselves.

Gaining access to your own insight isn’t difficult; you simply need to commit to reflecting on a daily basis. Based on research (my own and others’) and many years of work with global business leaders as a consultant and international management professor, I recommend the simple act of regularly writing in a journal.