Mark offers a great essay on overcoming procrastination, and shares his current thoughts on the discipline required to get back to work. The high points that I extracted:
- Create a positive and strong association with the place of work … your study, your desk, your cubicle, etc. Create the “mood” for doing excellent work. Play the right music. Have the right tools available and ready-to-go. Create the right environment.
- Embrace “flow” … where you are doing what you love to do, where you lose sense of time, where everything is just going right.
- Stop reinforcing negative behaviour, that is, stop giving your self a reward for procrastination. Schedule time to relax and play, and don’t give it to yourself until your work is done.
- Fight the urge to be distracted. Get rid of externally imposed distractions (turn off your phone, shut down email, close your door). Have a standard place to jot down ideas when they come, so that you can note-it-and-leave-it. Listen for the internal trigger to become distracted, and overcome it.
- Keep a time log of the actual work that you do. Study where you are doing great work, and where you are wasting time. Work to reduce the latter.
- Eat a smaller lunch and then have a mid-afternoon snack. That should help ward off getting sleepy in the afternoon.
- Create a home page that says “Get Back to Work” in big, bold letters. When you get the urge to go online as a way of escape, you’ll remember what you’re supposed to be doing. Mark offers his one as an example.
Key insight: procrastination is a habit, but so is productivity. It’s your choice. Today at the top of my diary page I wrote … “Cultivate the Habit of Productivity” as a constant visual reminder of what I’m seeking to do.
Help Others Be Their Best
Jeffrey reflects on his changing management style:
- In the beginning … I told people what to do.
- A bit later … I sought participation in decisions and looked for input.
- And now … I try to put people in situations and positions where their skills and capabilities will be put to the greatest use. “Now, what I am learning is to place people in roles and tasks where their skills and interests make them the ideal candidate for the role, even if there are other things that are equally or possibly even more important to be accomplished. Rather than argue about project management, I’ll assign that coder the most difficult tasks, the most complex coding algorithms and turn him loose. Then I’ll find the person who shines at project management and get them in that role.“
On the Benefits of Adversity and Crisis
Selling Power re-published a 1922 essay entitled “The Men Who Make Good” (okay, so we’d update the gender-specific language if it was re-written for today). It starts:
In a crisis, we discover powers in ourselves, powers that have laid dormant, secret reserves of ability, only waiting for the occasion to leap forth. You can tell just what strain a bar of iron will bear, just what weight a locomotive will pull, and just how much liquid a glass vessel will hold; but you cannot tell how much responsibility a man can carry without stumbling, nor how much grief a woman’s heart can suffer without breaking.
I particularly liked this line … “Slander, sneers, and curses cannot drive them from their work; success or praise does not make them dizzy.”