Tag Archives: HBR

Read this when your motivation is still on summer vacation


Sometimes you come back from vacation, all rested, and you can dive back into work and be more productive than before you went away. Other times that productivity can be hard to find. If the latter is  you, I recommend you read this piece: Is Your Motivation Still on Vacation?

Get the most out of your vacations, including refilling the tank that your motivation comes from.

(Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. The best time management tool you have is the word “No”

I was reading this piece, Time Management Won’t Save You, and thinking about it a lot. Some of it I agreed with, other parts of it I thought dumb. However, I did do some thinking after I read this:

In all of these instances, the solution isn’t to become more efficient to accommodate more tasks, more decisions, and more distractions. The imperative is clear: simplify. Reduce the number of tasks you take on, replace decisions with principles, and put structure in place to eliminate distractions.

He is arguing that the goal is simplifying. I agree. But I would be more assertive: if you have too much to do, the goal is to say “no”. You have to say “no” to many things in order to say “yes” to the things that matter. Saying “no” gives you more time to do the things you need to do.

You might find saying “no” hard, but you are doing it all the time. If you choose one task to work on over another, you are saying yes to one and no to the other. If you interview 5 people for a job, you have to say no to the others. It goes on and on.

Part of the reason we think saying “no” is hard is because it implies a judgment on what you said no to. For example, if I hire one person over 4 others, it doesn’t mean the people I don’t hire are bad. It means the person I hired is the best fit for this particular job. If I buy a medium size shirt, it doesn’t mean the large shirt and the small shirt are bad: it means the medium fit best. That’s all.

Likewise sometimes we say “no” when we really mean “not now”. For example, I love chocolate cake, but I might say “no” to it because I am full. I still love the cake, it just isn’t the right time for it.

Indeed, if you find say “no” hard, try “not right now” or  “not this week ” or “not until my next review period”.

Saying “no” is like weeding your garden. Weeds aren’t bad: some are beautiful. But your focus is on what you are trying to grow. That’s all you are saying with the weeding you do. Likewise, that is all you are doing when you are saying “no”. You are maintaining your focus in order to have the best outcome.

Go through all the things taking up your focus. Dump most of them into your “no/not now” list. Enjoy the time you now have to do the things that matter most.

(Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash )

On preparing for a post-pandemic world

Theatre sign saying the world is temporarily closed

If you are in business, you need to start thinking today about how everything will change after the pandemic. If you need help, review this piece in HBR: Preparing Your Business for a Post-Pandemic World

If you are not responsible for a business, it could still benefit you to read it. I see plenty of people fantasizing about what they might do after the pandemic. Why not go further and start planning to do it? If you are thinking of moving after the pandemic, what will that take? If you are planning on travelling, what do you need to have in place to make that happen?

The pandemic will end. Not soon enough, but sooner than you are prepared for. Get started on that today. The world is only temporarily closed.

(Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash)

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It’s Friday. Time to assess your work week. Here’s something to consider

A good work practice is to take some time on Friday and assess what went well this week and what could be improved next week. A great thing to assess is the value your work provides to yourself and others. Clearly if you feel your work has no value, then that’s something you want to address as a top priority.  But that’s not enough. If you feel your work is of low value, then read this article: Stop Doing Low-Value Work.

That article makes the case for why you don’t want to be doing low value work. Sure your boss might not care and sure you may be comfortable, but come on, you can do better and you and your boss will be happy when you do.

Read the article. Assess your week. Do better next week. Now enjoy the weekend.

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If you are thinking of using chatbots in your work, read this


Chatbots are relatively straightforward to deploy these days. AI providers like IBM and others provide all the technology you need. But do you really need them? And if you already have a bunch of them deployed, are you doing it right? If these questions have you wondering, I recommend you read this: Does Your Company Really Need a Chatbot?

You still may want to proceed with chatbots: they make a lot of business sense for certain types of work. But you will have a better idea when not to use them, too.

Reduce Your Stress in Two Minutes a Day – Harvard Business Review via Pocket

If you struggle with stress and don’t know where to start, start here: Reduce Your Stress in Two Minutes a Day – Harvard Business Review – Pocket. It is general advice, but even adopting a few of these practices in daily life should help releave your levels of stress. It is especially good advice for driven people who need to succeed in the areas of life they focus on, but find that their usual approach doesn’t help them when it comes to stress.

Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team

Put away that email you are about to send out and read this: Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team. The same is true for the Sunday evening emails. Stop sending them.

Once you do that, look at how many emails you send out and try and find ways to reduce that, either with meetings, quick chats, or other media (e.g., internal blogs, status updates).

The result will be a better informed and a more motivated team.

You wouldn’t go to work drunk: why are you going to work tired?

I ask that because as you can see from these charts, in terms of impairment, there is not much difference from showing up for work tired and showing up for work drunk:

Weirdly, if you do show up tired from overwork, you may be praised: if you show up drunk, you may be fired.

Regardless, to do good work, you need to sleep. (I know, I should practice what I preach.)

Julia Kirby in HBR has more on this in this piece: Change the World and Get to Bed by 10:00. You’ll be convinced to go to bed earlier by the time you finish it.