Category Archives: Productivity

Push on the Pull Door

FarSideIn public buildings if a door is labeled pull, the only way to open it is by following the stated direction. Pushing is only going to make you look foolish.

What is true of doors is not necessarily true anywhere else. There is nothing wrong with following the directions the first time around, but if you’ve been diligently pulling on a problem waiting for the door to open, it might be time to push.*

Your Turn

We want to hear from you! When has your forward progress required you to break the (written or unwritten) rules?

*conversely, if you’ve been pushing and pushing and the door won’t open, try following the conventional path. Sometimes the man is not out to trip you up.

What could you stop doing?

This post is reprinted from my weekly try-it e-mail series.  If you like it, sign-up here to have each week’s exercise delivered straight to your inbox.

Have you noticed how easy it is to add something new to your schedule? One more client, one more project, one more meeting. Each new thing on its own seems inconsequential, so in a burst of enthusiasm (or guilt) we say yes.

Then we wonder why we feel so tired all the time.

Normally this is where you would expect a lesson on learning to say “no.” That’s good advice, and we’ll probably cover it one of these weeks, but for now I’m asking you to do something different. Continue reading

How to Compile Your Brain

Have you ever wondered why software companies are able to crank out so many innovative products while also creating cultures where people really want to come to work?

I think it’s because of the compiler.

Unlike in other professions, a programmer’s workday includes mandatory down-time.  After writing a batch of code, programmers have to take a break while the computer compiles–translates their work from human readable language to machine readable language.  Without this step, the program won’t run.

While the computer does its work, programmers are not expected to feign busyness.  They are allowed, even encouraged, to slack off until the computer finishes.  Thus, when they return to work, not only has the computer had time to compile, but so has the programmer.

The rest of us also write code for a very specialized computer everyday:  our brains.  But unlike computer programmers, we don’t have mandatory compiling opportunities built into our day; we need to create them.  Continue reading

The Myth of Wasted Time

A child watching TV.

A child watching TV. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a confession:  I watch TV.

I live in a house with a gold-plated Direct TV subscription, HBO, and Netflix–and those babies are not going to waste.  I watch at least an hour of TV most nights and sometimes as much as 5-6 hours.  There are shows I love almost as much as these people love Battlestar Galactica.

Now, most people who write blogs like this one will tell you a TV habit is a no-no. Why “waste” all that time consuming the creative output of others when you could use those hours to write more blog posts, create more websites, or start a movement to change the world?

This advice sounds reasonable–until you consider that by the time I get to the TV part of my day, loading the dishwasher is a challenge, never mind stringing words together into cogent sentences.  All the self-flagellation in the world isn’t going to change that. Continue reading

Aside

I’ve spent most of the last two weeks taking care of sick people, or being sick myself–which is not super conducive to writing new blog posts. I’m starting to feel a little better so new material will be coming soon– … Continue reading