A good short article on one person’s strategy to let go of procrastination. The things I found most powerful were the suggestions of thinking of the pain it would cause in the end to keep avoiding the real work and the challenge to think about whether the trade off to give in to distractions were worth it to avoid the difficult work that would precede a satisfying outcome.
Some good reminders here about how longer hours doesn’t produce the best work or the best workers.
Those who produce brilliant work work hard for short stretches (90 minutes is the rule cited in The Talent Code and Be Excellent at Anything) and take breaks or even naps to restore. With this approach, thinking becomes sharper and innovation is supported.
And I wholeheartedly agree that the boss has to leave first to set the tone for the culture of balance.
An important piece for me to have read this year – I work with a hardworking and understandably tired team.
The best bits in my opinion:
“Help your team understand what matters most. Be frank about what can be lost without sacrificing your mission. Candor strengthens resolve. Empowering “less than perfect”, energizes the front lines.”
“Provide a little leave: “Your highest performers won’t complain. They’ll take on more, and work longer hours to get it done. You may not even know they’re tired. Initiate the conversation. Establish regular check-ins. Make it okay to politely question your asks.”
Manage your own stress: Stress rolls down hill. Get a grip.
A good piece from the HBR that suggest we re-set the term work/life balance with boundaries. I have heard some senior executives say that they have found their own definition of “balance” and I think that this approach would fit with that statement – basically as long as you can draw clear lines between work and the rest of your life, whether you spend much time devoted to the personal sphere is your own choice. This author offers a few different ways to slice these boundaries:
Time boundaries – where you exclusively devote time to non-work pursuits.
Physical boundaries – where you take a break from the office in all its forms.
and my favourite as a think today about redoubling my efforts to get to a regular mediation practice, the cognitive boundary – a place to stop thinking about work.
As the title reveals, this rant on work/life balance isn’t G-rated so you should watch it with that warning.
I appreciated the following reminders:
– As managers, we’re being watched for the signal to go home.
– Productivity nosedives when you work overtime
That said, the tone is more cynical than my own would be. She reduces workers to “business assets” when many, including public servants in particular, have chosen career paths that support a passion or interest. She also talks about “escape plans” where I’d prefer to focus on what we are running to: supporting a life outside of work that honours our other personal values including connection to our communities and creativity.
Found this precis of a study about meeting late-comers from the British Psychological Association interesting in large part because it teases out various perspectives on whether someone is actually late for a meeting. Are you late if the participants are still chit chatting when you arrive? If you are a few minutes late does that really count? Etc. One unexplored issue is whether perceptions of lateness actually vary withe the level of the person – I’d suspect that there is more flex given to people higher up the ladder who legitimately have less control over their schedules much of the time.
A few snippets from the study report – full citation found below.
They found that certain types of employees tend to be late:
Less satisfied employees, the less conscientious, younger employees, and those with a dislike for meetings, all tended to report being late more often. Job level was not related to (self-confessed) tardiness.
The effects of lateness?
Does it matter if a person arrives late? The researchers said it has a negative impact on both the late comer, who is often judged to be rude, and the rest of the team. Most participants reported experiencing negative feelings when someone shows up late, including frustration, feeling disrespected and upset. This is bad news, the researchers said, because “negative mood states can negatively impact performance.”
Varying definitions of lateness
Just over a fifth of the sample defined lateness as arriving after the scheduled start time (which was the objective definition used in the survey into the base rate of lateness). Another fifth defined lateness as a certain fixed time after the scheduled start – in other words, they were allowing for a “grace” period, varying from a few minutes to more than ten minutes. Thirty-two per cent defined lateness as arrival after the meeting had actually got underway. Some (6 per cent) defined lateness simply as “keeping others waiting”, or “interrupting the flow” (5 per cent). Finally, a minority (3 per cent) saw lateness in terms of whether a person was “ready to go” once the meeting had started.
Limitations of this research
The study has some obvious weaknesses, including a reliance on memory and self-report, and the emphasis on Western attitudes to time.
Rogelberg, S., Scott, C., Agypt, B., Williams, J., Kello, J., McCausland, T., and Olien, J. (2013). Lateness to meetings: Examination of an unexplored temporal phenomenon European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 1-19 DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2012.745988
A great forward (please keep them coming) written by one of my favourite bloggers for the Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz.
The gist of what he wants us to know is this:
“A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”
While we should building in renewal cycles we do the opposite:
“As athletes understand especially well, the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for renewal. When we’re under pressure, however, most of us experience the opposite impulse: to push harder rather than rest. This may explain why a recent survey by Harris Interactive found that Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012 — up from 6.2 days in 2011.”
This opinion pieces lays out, with links to the research, why more frequent breaks make us better workers. He cites the example of how he changed his approach to writing his books from writing 10 hours a day to working in 90 minute bursts to dramatically shorten the time it took to write.
A report on a more general take on work/life balance that is more inclusive than the most common lens of balance – that between work and family responsibilities. In the study referenced here, the authors look at “life interference” which is to say, the extent to which work interferes with education, leisure, relationships and family. An interesting conclusion that the lowest point of job satisfaction is associated with work interference with education. As well, women are more likely to experience life interference than men according to this study.
A great forward on how we should be managing results not time in the office. Part of the article explores the holdover from industrial age thinking which continues to equate productivity with face time in the office to everyone’s detriment.
However, what I appreciated most on this piece was the concrete strategies on how to make the best of your office time.
Included are suggestions on limiting meetings (preview whether you think the meeting will be a productive use of your time, plan the meeting), reading more quickly (don’t read entire documents unless you have to) and writing more quickly (avoid an A plus product unless it really must be so) as well as email management (try to touch each piece of email only once and then file it appropriately).
Lastly, the author suggests that employees advance more discussions on the specific metrics of deliverables on projects so what successful results are, are clear.
A good if list-y piece on how CEOs and others at the top can combat stress – a few suggestions from a much longer list in the entire article:
Peer group support: “The role of the CEO can be isolating so that discussions with other CEOs can help you gain a greater perspective of your own work and possibly obtain other ideas that may help you cope more effectively.”
Draw a line: “Learn how to recognise situations that are outside of your control.”
Learn how to switch off: “This is a skill and has to be learnt. You can meditate, cycle, learn yoga or paint – whatever works for you – just do it!”