“If you don’t like my solution, you don’t care about fixing the problem.” ... When time and money is spent fixing the symptoms and not the problem itself, the symptoms are often confused with the problem.
Last week, Andrew Wilt and I were working side-by-side. During a break in the daily grind, we decided to discuss time management. Time management seems to be one of those things we all have to deal with, and I had recently swapped tips and tricks with my peers. Since both of us have previously written blog posts about time management, we felt like the ideas were a step in the right direct, but they could benefit from some revision. So, Andrew and I had that discussion.
As the world is becoming more dependent on global partners, teams are joining forces with employees from around the world. To keep pace with the rapidly changing industry, companies are utilizing management strategies like Scrum, DevOps, and DevSecOps to increase productivity and communication. This left many remote teams in the dark... until now. Meet the new “distributed scrum team.”
Last week, I wrote about strategies to increase creativity in your workspace by manipulating the environment. This week, I am going to write about creativity and idea creation, switching the focus from your workspace to your peers and company as a whole. These tips are great for managers or for those who want to take a more active role in their careers. Let’s begin.
This year, I have been working towards making my workspace a place that promotes creativity and productivity. Little did I know, my environment was having a huge effect on my output. This week, I am going to share some strategies I have implemented in my life that has boosted my focus and creativity, increasing both the quality and quantity of my work. Feel free to adapt these strategies to fit your working preferences, habits, and routines.
Far too often, I sit down to write an email, finish a project, or write up an idea I had earlier in the day only to be met with the blinking cursor of a “trapped” thought. Within seconds, I am hypnotized by the steady rhythm of the flashing caret. Seconds and then minutes pass. And, for some reason, the room always feels darker. I can literally feel time passing. But here’s the worst part: I know the idea is in there, I have it in there somewhere, but I don’t know how to access it.
A couple days ago, I received a book in the mail from Amazon, but it wasn’t the book I ordered. This mistake could be the product of many factors, but this event got me thinking about communication. Specifically, how valuable is communication? According to an article by Mark W. Sheffert of Manchester Companies, “it is estimated that miscommunication can cost an organization between 25 percent and 40 percent of its annual budget.” That’s how big communication is to you and your company.
Nearly 150 years after the death of Napoleon the Third, remembering names remains an important skill to grow and maintain. This leaves us with a few questions: First, why is it so important to remember names? Second, why do I (or people I work with) have such a hard time committing names to memory if it is a basic skill everyone should have? And finally, what are some exercises or tools I can use to grow my skill of name learning?
Writing a weekly blog is a worthwhile process--one that is both challenging and rewarding. Despite our best efforts, Andy Ruth and I don't always get around to it every week. The hardest part is finding time. Through the successes and failures, I have come to realize the key is discovering the gaps of downtime between daily tasks and then learning how to utilize those breaks. For example, look for time between meetings and during breaks for coffee or lunch. You can also mentally prepare in the car (or public transit) and when you are getting ready in the morning (in the shower). About 10-15 minutes a day is all you really need, but remember: don’t limit yourself to 15 minutes if you are on a roll.
Whether you realize it or not, you are in the middle of performing a habit. Somehow, you made your way onto a computer or smartphone and are now browsing the internet. This is to say, we are all performing some activity we do regularly, and these repetitive behaviors are habits. So when we say we are going to make a new habit, what we are really saying is that we are going to replace one habit with a more desirable one. The point of this blog post is to help you become more aware of your habits and offer some pointers as you set your sights on a new goal. Whether you are looking to make a life change or tweak an existing routine, these five steps will help you achieve your workflow goals.
One of my favorite things I get to do at SEI is write weekly blog posts to engage with the public and our community. This was my first year writing in this format and I have learned a lot along the way. One year and 37 posts later (plus 32 posts by SEI mentor, Andy Ruth), 2015 has taught me 11 mandatory lessons every blogger should consider:
For about five years, I played hardcore/metal music in Grand Rapids, MI. One of the popular music venues that catered to local bands in the mid-to-late 2000’s was the adolescent-friendly safe haven: Skelletones. Before I played on their stage, I grew up spending as much time as I could mingling with aspiring bands and the off-beat, we’re-so-counter-culture-we-hate-counter-culture crowd. At 15, the only dream I had was to play on that stage. At 19, I got my chance.
"There are two types of people in the world: those who push and those who and enjoy the ride. Who do you want to be?"
I grew up with a lot of these types of sayings separating those who "do" and those who "do not do enough". We have a culture of elitism, which is great for some—but what about those who don't want to change the world? Those who want to enjoy work and be good at it, but also have a family and a life outside of work? Those who are looking to fill a role? Those people are belittled in our culture. Business books ask, “If you aren't reinventing yourself; your image; your brand, then what are you doing?”
When did being "good" become "not enough"?
If you are educated and have above average IQ, you are statistically more likely to join a cult.
Before you start standing in front of microwaves and consume hours and hours of Netflix brain rot in an attempt to dim down your smart brain from tricking you into joining a cult, let me say this: you may already be part of a “cult” and be completely fine with it. For the purpose of this post, I am not going to talk about the traditional way we view cults (eg. religious cults), but rather, the types of behavioral patterns that get organizations and individuals alike into trouble.
When everyone is trying to stand out, it’s hard to be unique without looking like everyone else. The slang use of the word “peacocking” entered popular culture as a way to describe someone who dresses in a way to intentionally stand out. Over the past decade, this term has made its way into the business world and is now commonly applied to someone who intentionally goes out of their way to make themselves look bigger or more impressive than they really are. “Peacocking” in the business world shouldn’t surprise us: this kind of thinking is part of the millennial cultural DNA, reinforced by teachers, coaches, and parents. Some popular lines include: “You have to sell yourself;” “Make sure you spend time talking about your accomplishments;” “Bulk up your resume;” and “When you talk about a weakness, make sure it is a strength in disguise”.
William Porter lost his job at the First National Bank of Austin in 1894 for accusations of embezzlement. In 1896, when a federal case opened against him, he changed trains on his way to the courthouse and fled the country. Porter returned to Austin a year later when his wife was too sick to meet him in Honduras. Upon his return, he surrendered to the court and started serving his five-year sentence shortly after his wife’s death. As a licensed pharmacist, Porter took on the duty as a night druggist at the prison hospital where he also continued pursuing his life’s passion: writing. During his time in prison, he began publishing short stories under a pen name—the household name we all know him by today: O. Henry.
Stories began as campfire tales and paintings on cave walls. They were stories of practical information; where to hunt and gather food; stories of thankfulness to gods; stories of nature and fear. The art and business of story has been with us since the beginning of recorded history and remains to as an integral thread in the fabric of our lives.
Twice a year, Bill Gates disconnects from reality in order to reconnect with (and redefine) his goals. During each one-week break, Gates travels into the woods of the Pacific Northwest where he dives into papers written by the Microsoft community. He scribbles notes, maps out ideas, and writes summaries for executives. There are no interruptions (besides a caretaker who provides two meals per day and a steady stream of Diet Orange Crush), no employees, friends, or family to accompany Bill; even his wife stays at home. This is a time of deep thought, reflection, and goal creation, and has been responsible for many Microsoft innovations.