Life is long

No one knows how long they have to live, but sadly, we can be sure of one thing: we’ll waste far too much of life. Waste it sitting around, waste it chasing the wrong things, waste it by refusing to take the time to ask ourselves what’s actually important to us. Far too often, we’re like the overconfident academics that Petrarch criticized in his classic essay on ignorance — the types who “fritter away their powers incessantly in caring for things outside of them and seek themselves there.” Yet they have no idea this is what they’re doing.

So today, if you find yourself rushed or uttering the words “I just don’t have enough time,” stop and take a second. Is this actually true? Or have you just committed to a lot of unnecessary things? Are you actually being efficient, or have you assumed a great deal of waste into your life? The average American spends something like forty hours a year in traffic. That’s months over the course of a life. And for “traffic,” you can substitute so many activities — from fighting with others to watching television to daydreaming.

Your life is plenty long — just use it properly.

7 Stoic Meditations To Get The Most Out of Today (and Life)

Stoic philosophy is really fascinating and practical. Ryan Holiday does an awesome job in bringing it to surface.

Awesome life

The Lazy Way To An Awesome Life: 3 Secrets Backed By Research

Sum Up Here’s what we can learn from Nicholas: Hang out with the people you want to be: Behaviors spread like a virus. Make sure it’s one you want to be infected with. Make more friends. Time spent making friends has a higher happiness ROI than time spent making money. Introduce friends to friends. Friends becoming happy increases your chance of happiness by 45%. Keeping the network happy protects you against unhappiness. Other research Nicholas did turned up something truly heartwarming: friends are family. Quite literally.

Doing everything on your own can take you only so far. To go further you need supportive people.

Meetings are ok

Meetings get a lot of bad press. They are pictured as the main evil in any workplace just after email. When we talk about meeting the primary image is that it’s long, boring and low value event that everyone has to attend. Many try to ban them completely or reduce them significantly.
Meetings are not inherently good or bad. What has happened is too many people abused the idea and purpose of many, many meetings and converted them in to this hated monster that is now.

Meetings are here to stay, they are simple a fact of an office life. We may not like them but just like taking out the trash we have to do them.

But when you think of meetings they are actually ok. It’s an excellent form of exchanging ideas, making decisions, discussing the goals and direction of the company or providing an update about progress and issues with current work. Think of some good examples of meeting that you had in the past. Things were running smooth, people were active and engaged. At the end everyone left feeling that something good has been done and that meeting was productive.

So how can you repeat that and get the same positive effect every time you organise a meeting:

Purpose

clear purpose of a meeting. There are there three generic type:

  1. idea generation
  2. decision
  3. update

Stay on Course

keep the meeting to the point if the topic is project Y then this is the only thing to be discussed. See Parkinson’s Law a task expands to the amount of time given so it the meeting if your don’t stick to your agenda then you’re likely get side tracked.

Time

Specific time allocation: 15min, 30min, 45min, 1h. Once you know the purpose and the topics it’s relatively easy to determine how much time is needed. Stick to it so the meeting doesn’t overrun.

Attendees

Correct number and level of attendees. If the meeting is about making decisions then people who can make them should be there. If you need to update your team make sure they are all there so you don’t have to repeat the message to every single person.

These four elements that can help you make the meetings better. If you are mostly attending the meetings see if you can influence the organiser. When you see them putting together another boring and long meeting ask them about it. See if they know what they want to achieve with it. Perhaps over time they will change their approach especially if the get to experience a smooth and engaging meetings.

Lessons from the “Drive”

Keeping up with any productivity systems requires dedication, will power and motivation. Making sure that the system is constantly updated that it contains actual information can take a lot of work. Sometimes when we struggle with too many assignments it’s easy to let the whole system go.
The book that made a lot of buzz in recent month and that looks at the traditional and scientific approach to motivation is Daniel Pink’s "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us".

The main concept of the book looks at the interrelation between two of the three of our drives.

Traditional concepts of motivation assumed that reward / punish  is the most effective approach. Throwing more money or threatening with more severe punishments was and still is a common practice to ensure that job gets done. This concept still works in some type of jobs which are mostly simple outcome, procedure or routine based. 
However it appears that science does not support that support that view. In his TED talk Daniel Pink describes an experiment conducted over 40 years ago where researchers have discovered that people rewarded with high payoff were less creative and engaged and had bigger problem in solving the task than those with smaller reward. (the talk is just 20 min long but it’s well worth it)

What does this mean for current workers? The ongoing shift to so called knowledge work means that old approach of carrots and sticks is less and less effective. Daniel Pink says that what we need is to motivate people by giving them option to develop three intrinsic elements: autonomy, mastery, purpose.
Although I’m yet to read this book, you can get a pretty good idea what’s it about by reading blogs and interviews with Dan Pink.

Below is an outline of some key lessons that I’ve learned.

  • On Mastery – it’s not possible to  become a master with out feedback. No athlete or musician becomes true master with out constant improvement and reviewing of his work. The so called performance review in our work places are not enough to bring any reasonable value. Dan Pink’s advise is to set your own goals for things you want to learn or do and then review the progress monthly. Mark your self against the desired result and see where you fell short and where your succeeded.
  • On Purpose -  you need to find what’s your internal drive. Pink’s advise think what gives you the most satisfaction at work, what would you spend your time on, what would you do for free. If you answer these then you will be on the right track to finding a purpose.
  • On autonomy- educate your boss so he/she can understand that giving large amount of autonomy will result in greater satisfaction, creativity and engagement. Be working example of such beheviour as the persisting view is that more autonomy means more slacking off.

Some other lessons/observations:

  • Top motivator for people is chance to develop and making progress.
  • Carrot & sticks still works however it’s good only the in short run  as it narrows focus to produce only one thing. As result it limits chances for great work.
  • Carrot & stick approach creates constant expectation of reward and risk of taking shortcuts to get it – vide current financial crisis.
  • Money matters are still important but for jobs that are creative it’s best to take the issue of money off the table.
  • Although the intrinsic motivators are effective not only for knowledge work. Any profession can benefit from using them. Pink gives a great example of hospital janitors who were given some autonomy over their work and this little change resulted in greater work satisfaction, lesser turnover and continuous progress.

This book is definitely worth reading and I’ll be sure to order it with my next Amazon purchase.

References:

  1. Daniel Pink’s Drive – Recommended – Harvard Business Review
  2. How to Stay Motivated: Daniel Pink on ‘Drive’ – WSJ.com
  3. Daniel Pink On His New Book, ‘Drive,’ And What Motivates People
  4. Drive: Daniel Pink’s Definitive and Fun Guide to Motivation – Bob Sutton
  5. My full review of Dan Pink’s “Drive”… // Brett’s Waste Blog
  6. Drive by Daniel Pink – Jessica Smith – Digital Influencer, Marketing Strategist, Creative Thinker
  7. New Release: The Bottom-line on Daniel Pink’s “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” « Mine Your Resources
  8. Drive – Video Book Review
  9. The Four Essential Drives That Every Creative Needs
  10. The Hidden Art of Achieving Creative Flow | Zen Habits
  11. A Story About Motivation – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review
  12. ‘Drive’ Not Always Explained By Rewards : NPR
  13. Full Interview: Daniel Pink on Motivation 3.0