Category: Work

Focus! How to get things done – @Chris_Bailey

Anyone who prescribes meditation, coffee and wine deserves attention.

Yesterday’s Times has an interview with Chris Bailey on his new book, Hyperfocus: How to Work Less and Achieve More.

Our inability to focus, because of our digital aids to productivity, is the bane of our times.

In a fascinating article, Bailey prescribes:

  • Set yourself no more than three daily tasks
  • Do a phone swap
  • Set an hourly awareness alarm
  • Switch environments when you need to
  • Ditch brain training apps for meditation
  • Buy a cheap alarm clock
  • Save your first coffee for work
  • Play a song on repeat
  • Take a mindful shower
  • Have a glass of wine

It’s definitely worth a read and some consideration. Over a glass of wine.

The interview is here.

The man, via TED, is here.

The book is here.

More open plan

Just adding to my earlier post on open plan. Here’s Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership, via Execupundit, with a wealth of articles on the subject.

His own summary:

People seem to want a one-size-fits-all answer to the question about what makes the best workspace. I don’t think there is one. I think the answer depends on the people involved, the work to be done, and the size of the team.

Read the full breadth of perspective, here.

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The ins and outs of open plan

The debate over open plan office layouts rages on.

For many organisations, the advantages of real-estate savings, increased collaboration and organisational flexibility seem overwhelmingly to the good.

To this, today’s Times adds research from the University of Arizona that suggests open plan is good for the participants’ health as a result of higher levels of activity and lower levels of stress.

On the other side of the argument, the Economist’s Bartleby column reported some possibly counter-intuitive findings: Open offices can lead to closed minds. A report published by the Royal Society – The impact of the “open” workspace on human collaboration – found that face to face interactions decreased by around 70% once open plan was introduced, as:

“transitions to open office architecture do not necessarily promote open interaction. Consistent with the fundamental human desire for privacy and prior evidence
that privacy may increase productivity, when office architecture makes everyone more observable or ‘transparent’, it can dampen F2F interaction, as employees find other strategies to preserve their privacy; for example, by choosing a different channel through which to communicate. Rather than have an F2F interaction in front of a large audience of peers, an employee might look around, see that a particular person is at his or her desk, and send an email.

 

Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

 

Why we don’t have nice things – @thisisseth

We get what we deserve. So says Seth:

Every once in awhile, someone steps up and makes something better. Much better. When it happens, it’s up to us to stand up and notice it. Which means buying it and consuming it with the very same care that it was created with.

Read the rest, here.

 

Photo by Wesual Click on Unsplash

The Medieval gig economy? @HistoryToday

History Today has a piece by David Long on the employment status of the average priest in Medieval times.

As various professions like Law were emerging, the Church was well established as a career of choice, easily overlapping power in the secular and spiritual worlds. A young priest from a well-heeled family could afford a good education and a professional role as a prince (or at least senior manager) of the church.

The average priest-in-the-street, however, had more of a portfolio career, picking up priesting gigs in the neighbourhood and mixing those with other consulting and “enforcing” jobs.

Long parallels this “hollowing out” of the front-line parish profession with today’s “ever more casual and commercialised” professions.

I think it’s simply another reminder that our perception of work as a solid, predictable, 9 to 5, 18 to 65, activity is a relatively modern (and fleeting) construct of the Industrial Revolution. Work wasn’t like that before, and it won’t be like that after.

 

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Competence and humanity – @thisisseth

Seth Godin makes an interesting observation on the meaning of “competence”:

It doesn’t take a genius to see that competence is no longer about our ability to press certain buttons in a certain sequence. Far more often, competence involves the humanity required to connect with other people, in real time.

The wider point is that the more that AI and tabloid-terrorising robots accomplish, the more important will be the “human” skills that technology can’t offer. As Seth says,

It requires emotional labor, not merely compliance.

And, of course, that is where the sovereign professional – whatever his or her particular field – will add value and earn the rewards.

 

Photo by Simon Wijers on Unsplash

 

 

How to manage people who are not employees – @FastCompany

Sound advice for the other side of the equation: how to manage a sovereign professional.

Before you hire a freelancer, be crystal clear on your needs,” advises Jon Youshaei of the comics site Every Vowel. “I always ask myself: Do I have a vision of what I want? If I don’t, I can’t effectively communicate it when giving feedback to a freelancer, and it’ll just end up wasting time and money.”

Vision is critical, but it’s also where a freelancer can add real value to the client … as long as the early stage relationship isn’t abused. How often does the sovereign professional feel their just being milked for free consultancy?

Read the full piece, here.

 

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash