Sunday 20th October 2019
  • How to Manage Your Perfectionism


    Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can motivate you to perform at a high level and deliver top-quality work. On the other hand, it can cause you unnecessary anxiety and slow you down. How can you harness the positives of your perfectionism while mitigating the negatives? What measures or practices can you use to keep your perfectionism in check? Should you enlist the help of others?

    What the Experts Say
    "A lot of perfectionistic tendencies are rooted in fear and insecurity," says Matt Plummer, founder of Zarvana, the online coaching service that helps workers become more productive. "Many perfectionists worry that if they let go of their [meticulousness and conscientiousness], it will hurt their performance and standing." And so they cling to their perfectionism even when it's counterproductive. If this describes you, take heart. Reining in your perfectionistic propensities is not as hard as it sounds. "It's about rechanneling a strength of yours rather than aiming for a lower goal." Your aim is to take "some of the pressure off yourself," says Alice Boyes, a former clinical psychologist and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit. Of course that's easier said than done. But the fact remains, "if you genuinely want to be a high achiever, you're bound to do some things imperfectly." Here are some ideas of how to let go of your penchant for perfectionism.

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  • Focused and Diffuse: Two Modes of Thinking


    Professor and former Knowledge Project Podcast guest, Barbara Oakley, is credited with popularizing the concept of focused and diffuse forms of thinking. In A Mind for Numbers, Oakley explains how distinct these modes are and how we switch between the two throughout the day. We are constantly in pursuit of true periods of focus - deep work, flow states, and highly productive sessions where we see tangible results. Much of the learning process occurs during the focused mode of thinking. The diffuse mode is equally important to understand and pursue.

    When our minds are free to wander, we shift into a diffuse mode of thinking. This is sometimes referred to as our natural mode of thinking, or the daydream mode; it’s when we form connections and subconsciously mull over problems. Although diffuse thinking comes in the guise of a break from focus, our minds are still working. Often, it’s only after we switch away from this mode that we realize our brains were indeed working for us. Moving into diffuse mode can be a very brief phenomenon, such as when we briefly stare into the distance before returning to work.

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  • How CEOs Can Solve the CMO Dilemma


    Like professional athletes at the mercy of team owners always looking for the next superstar, chief marketing officers appear to have the shortest tenure of any member of the C-suite. The median life span in the role was 28 months in 2018, dropping from the 31-month median tenure a year earlier, according to Spencer Stuart. While some departing CMOs are tapped for internal roles beyond marketing, such as general manager, more often than not they are shown the door and move on to their next gig.

    Part of the reason for this costly turnover: CMOs face substantial pressure from CEOs and boards to quickly shift massive organizations to new types of marketing. With consumers migrating to digital channels, new digital tools and platforms popping up every month, and customers bombarded by a cacophony of marketing messages, it's a tough environment to understand, let alone master.

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  • Making time management the organization's priority


    When a critical strategic initiative at a major multinational stalled recently, company leaders targeted a talented, up-and-coming executive to take over the project. There was just one problem: she was already working 18-hour days, five days a week. When the leaders put this to the CEO, he matter-of-factly remarked that by his count she still had "30 more hours Monday to Friday, plus 48 more on the weekend."

    Extreme as this case may seem, the perennial time-scarcity problem that underlies it has become more acute in recent years. The impact of always-on communications, the growing complexity of global organizations,1 and the pressures imposed by profound economic uncertainty have all added to a feeling among executives that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get things done.

    Our research and experience suggest that leaders who are serious about addressing this challenge must stop thinking about time management as primarily an individual problem and start addressing it institutionally. Time management isn't just a personal-productivity issue over which companies have no control; it has increasingly become an organizational issue whose root causes are deeply embedded in corporate structures and cultures.

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  • Burnout is a pandemic. Why don't we talk more about it?


    Stress - from the Latin "stringere", to squeeze tight, touch or injure - is not bad, per se. Positive stress and adrenaline in the right circumstances can make us stronger, happier and healthier. Yet, in certain work environments, chronic stress provokes anxiety, detachment and fatigue that can lead to burnout.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly every fifth child or teenager and every fourth adult will be affected by burnout at some point in his or her active life. The situation is so widespread in developed countries that the WHO has added burnout to its list of globally recognized diseases, defining it as a syndrome of "chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed" which "includes feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, results in increased mental distance from one's job and reduced professional efficacy."

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  • Don't keep a schedule


    One of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures is indulging in productivity porn.

    Productivity porn (or, for those really in the know, "productivity pr0n") consists of techniques, tactics, and tricks for maximizing personal productivity -- or, as they say, "getting things done".

    The techniques that follow work together as an integrated set for me, but they probably won't for you. Maybe you'll get one or two ideas -- probably out of the ideas I stole from other people. If so, I have succeeded.

    And here we go:

    Let's start with a bang: don't keep a schedule. He's crazy, you say!

    I'm totally serious. If you pull it off -- and in many structured jobs, you simply can't -- this simple tip alone can make a huge difference in productivity.

    By not keeping a schedule, I mean: refuse to commit to meetings, appointments, or activities at any set time in any future day.

    As a result, you can always work on whatever is most important or most interesting, at any time.

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  • How Engaged Is Your Team, Really?


    A recent global study of engagement from ADP Research Institute found that if employees consider themselves part of a team (or even better, part of more than one team), they are twice as likely to feel engaged in their work. Furthermore, countries with greater numbers of workers who consider themselves part of a team, such as India or Saudi Arabia, report high levels of engagement as well. Knowing that engagement is tied to teams is critical for leaders looking to increase their output, since engagement is a known driver of productivity. But research we conducted on behalf of Oracle and Engage for Success (a UK group seeking to improve engagement levels across workplaces) shows that many teams may be less engaged than they appear.

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  • Everything Is Private Equity Now


    Spurred by cheap loans and investors desperate to boost returns, buyout firms roam every corner of the corporate world.

    Private equity managers won the financial crisis. A decade since the world economy almost came apart, big banks are more heavily regulated and scrutinized. Hedge funds, which live on the volatility central banks have worked so hard to quash, have mostly lost their flair. But the firms once known as leveraged buyout shops are thriving. Almost everything that's happened since 2008 has tilted in their favor.

    Low interest rates to finance deals? Check. A friendly political climate? Check. A long line of clients? Check.

    The PE industry, which runs funds that can invest outside public markets, has trillions of dollars in assets under management. In a world where bonds are paying next to nothing -and some have negative yields - many big investors are desperate for the higher returns PE managers seem to be able to squeeze from the markets.

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  • The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations


    It is a scene that plays out each weekday morning across Tokyo. Suit-clad office workers, gaggles of schoolchildren, and other travelers gamely wend their way through the city's sprawling rail stations.

    To the casual observer, it is chaos; commuters packed shoulder-to-shoulder amid the constant clatter of arriving and departing trains. But a closer look reveals something more beneath the surface: A station may be packed, yet commuters move smoothly along concourses and platforms. Platforms are a whirl of noisy activity, yet trains maintain remarkable on-time performance. Indeed, the staggering punctuality of the Japanese rail system occasionally becomes the focus of international headlines - as on May 11, when West Japan Railways issued a florid apology after one of its commuter trains left the station 25 seconds early.

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  • Get ready for tens of millions of climate refugees


    In 2006, the British economist Nicholas Stern warned that one of the biggest dangers of climate change would be mass migration. "Climate-related shocks have sparked violent conflict in the past," he wrote, "and conflict is a serious risk in areas such as West Africa, the Nile Basin, and Central Asia."

    More than a decade later we're still trying to create models that might tell us where people might move, and when. Last year a report for the World Bank, the first to model migration due to climate change on a large scale, estimated that as many as 143 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America could have to relocate within their countries by 2050.

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