Do too much

Sounds like a plan to me. Jensen Karp – if he were any more famous you’d have heard of him – is a writer and producer who spoke with Fast Company about doing a gigantic amount of work at the same time. I read this and conclude he’s young. But give the article credit: it uses the word ‘myriad’ correctly.

Have a read of the full piece, will you?

Airbnb’s Co-Founder on productivity

I’ve used Airbnb many times and it is as good as they say. Here’s one thing that its co-creator says about handling his workload:

I try to fill my calendar in reverse, from the end-of-day to earlier; I try to reserve the morning for doing “real work.” I find I can focus more in the morning whereas it’s harder to get focused after having been bombarded by meetings, so I try to save meetings for later in the day.

I’m Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-Founder Of Airbnb, And This Is How I Work | Lifehacker Australia

Read the full piece.

Busy doing nothing – official

It’s possible that you cannot clear any time in your day to do nothing. It’s entirely possible. But Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, says he does precisely this and that it is a boon for him.

If you were to see my calendar, you’d probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what’s going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections reflect “buffers,” or time periods I’ve purposely kept clear of meetings.

In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.

At first, these buffers felt like indulgences. I could have been using the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said “no” to. But over time I realized not only were these breaks important, they were absolutely necessary in order for me to do my job.

The Importance of Scheduling Nothing – Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn blog (3 April 2013

Read the full piece for the details of why he does this and exactly how it has helped.

Hat tip to the Sydney Morning Herald for mentioning this today.

Relax, you’re not that busy

Stop thinking of relaxing as a ticket to laziness and build free time into your day. Relaxation relieves stress, lets you enjoy the moment and improves your problem-solving skills. So take naps. Breathe. Meditate. If you’re always rushing, develop a morning routine to set a calmer tone for the rest of the day. Don’t be so busy you’re not enjoying the precious little time you have on this earth.

How to Stop Being Busy – Sasha Graffagna, SuperheroYou (2 June 2014)

Read the full piece for more interesting and sobering, even correctly chastising thoughts.

Okay, I’ll bite: the organisational habits of highly successful people

I’m intrigued, cautiously intrigued. (I type that and my heads it in a Bond, James Bond voice. Let’s find out whether highly successful people do this.)

Setting goals, both short and long-term, is one of the simplest ways that highly successful people maintain focus and direction in whatever they do. Take the example of Oprah Winfrey, whose success has been defined by setting multiple goals.
In addition to setting their sights high, highly successful people incorporate deadlines and due dates into the structure of their goals. This ensures their short term goals are met regularly, and long term goals are worked towards steadily and methodically.

The Journl Blog – Inspiring Better Organisation – no author listed (what is it with not listing writers?) (24 October 2012)

Read the full piece with lots of quotes from the aforementioned highly successful people. I’ll leave you to see what they quoted from me.

God, I am just like so swamped with work right now

It’s crazy-bad. Crazy. Man, I’m exhausted from it. Reeling. I tells you, right, if I don’t stop for just one goddamn minute and have me some me-time, I will not be responsible for my actions.

I know you’ve heard people say things like that but be honest, how often have you said it too?

We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.

Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles (whether of the Tulip, Silicon Valley or Real Estate variety), it undergirds them all. I call it “The More Bubble.”

The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until—eventually—the bubble bursts, and we’re left scratching our heads wondering why we were so irrationally exuberant in the first place. The asset we’re overvaluing now is the notion of doing it all, having it all, achieving it all; what Jim Collins calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

This bubble is being enabled by an unholy alliance between three powerful trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload. We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we “should” be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we back-door-brag about being busy: it’s code for being successful and important.

Why We Brag About Being Busy (And How to Regain Focus) – Greg McKeown, Lifehacker (16 June 2014)

McKeown’s article is on Lifehacker but it was originally on the Harvard Business Review which I want to mention both because that’s where this originated and these things should be noted, but also because the original piece had a great word in its headline. That headline is “Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy“. I love that word humblebrag.

And I’m only a little bit ashamed to admit that I need to eat me some humblebrag pie.

Having a Bad Day? Read this for free

As part of the Birmingham Independent Book Fair this weekend, I gave away a free PDF of what's proved to be the most popular section of my book, The Blank Screen. It's called Bad Days and it is meant for those times when you are seriously under water: there is fast advice to get you out of it now and then there is a lot more to help you avoid the situation in the future.

I want you to have a copy too so please feel free: here is the entire and uncut Bad Days chapter from The Blank Screen.

I think it will help you. I hope you also like it and if you do, have a look at the complete book: The Blank Screen on Amazon UK and on Amazon US.

Advice for the overwhelmed

Lifehacker has a suggestion for – wait, I’m forever telling you about good-to-great Lifehacker articles, have you bookmarked that site yet? – one way to cope when you’re drowning:

Try it. I have my own systems and they are in my book, The Blank Screen (US link, UK link). Mind you, I think this business of coping on bad days is so important and I believe what I can tell you about it is potentially so useful, I give away that Blank Screen chapter for free. Here it is: Bad Days from The Blank Screen.

I hope it and the Lifehacker article are useful to you.