Tag Archives: Monday

Up and at ’em! Here’s some good stuff on remote work, office work, quiet firing and more


Hey, welcome back to work. Here’s some things to think about as you start (postpone?) your work day and work week:

Quiet Firing: first there was a trend about quiet quitting. Now there is a new thing: quiet firing. You can read about it here at huffpost and life hacker. I don’t know if this is a real trend or just something the next gen of workers are noticing. My take: if you are being sidelined or ignored, look for ways to discuss it with your boss or your HR people. You are responsible ultimately for your career, but you should also be getting the support you need to succeed. If you aren’t getting that support, you need to take action.

Remote work: One form of action you can take is to go and work some place else. If you want to remain a remote worker, consider these 10 companies that will let you work from anywhere and are hiring now . Or review this list of most in demand work from anywhere jobs. You are going to get pressured to go back to the office because …spurious reasons. Consider your options.

Office work: if you are looking forward to going back into the office, don’t forget: open office plans are awful and this piece reminds you why. Even if you work in a good location, you also need to consider how to deal (once again) with work distractions . You can’t ignore the coworker who sits in your workspace the way you can ignore you coworkers on Slack, I’m sorry to say.

Side-hustles: Maybe you plan to start up a side hustle? If so, read this, how to successfully bootstrap your startup , and this, is your side hustle is causing burnout? What to do before you quit.

In general: consider this,  is work intrinsically good?. Remember what Toni Morrison said about work. And finally, update your LinkedIn work profile.

Go get ’em.

It’s Monday. Do you dream of labor? Not if you are this group or Beyoncé

Chances are, if you are a young person, you do not. At least according to this: Gen Z’s war on modern-day work – Vox

I was skeptical when I first started reading it. I thought: Gen Z are just another generation dealing with their first few years of work. And that’s true, but there’s much more at play than just that. Things like the number of recessions that they’ve been through, a pandemic, the high/impossible cost of home ownership, and more.

It’s worth a read. Especially if you are in a position of employing young people.

With that, I give you Beyoncé and her big summer hit about….work. And more:

For more on that, see how Beyonce’s Break My Soul Inspires People To Quit Jobs. Very relevant to the above piece.

P.S. Relatedly, here’s a list of the Top 10 books about terrible jobs over at The Guardian. That might not seem appealing, but it is a list of very good books. It might appeal to those of you, Gen Z or not, who also do not dream of labor.

It’s Monday. You’re on your own.


Do you find these “It’s Monday” posts useful? I suspect not. It’s just me writing mostly about things I find helpful, and hoping others do too. I think it’s time for me to give that up.

Here’s a few of the last ones I had queued up that I hoped to write about in depth. I think I’ll just leave them here. Hopefully someone finds them good:

Remember: to be successful, you need hard work. You need talent. And you need good luck.  You likely don’t need another post from me. 🙂

P.S. Here are all my monday posts, fwiw.

 

It’s Monday. You’re struggling. Maybe you need some help adjusting

If it’s Monday and you feel already like you’re struggling, it may be time to hit the reset button and ask why.

One reason may be you have too high expectations of what you can accomplish. If so, I recommend you read this: It’s Okay to Be Good and Not Great

Another reason may be that you just don’t have any energy/vigor/gas in the tank/what have you to get things done. If so, then start with this:
Building Healthy Habits When You’re Truly Exhausted

Finally, if you’re not sure what the problem is, but you think you suck for some strange reason, then go through this fine collection of articles to see if any of them can help: You’re Not So Bad: The Case Against Self Improvement

We don’t have to be at our best all of the time. Sometimes we are at our worst or close to it. These things come and go like clouds. Be good to yourself. Take a moment for yourself. Then do what you can.

It’s Monday. How much “fun” have you scheduled in your calendar?


That might seem like a dumb idea, but chances are your calendar is full of events you have scheduled for this week: meetings, appointments, get togethers with friends, workouts. Is fun anywhere there?

It may be. Perhaps going for your regular workout is fun for you. Or that murder mystery you watch each week is fun. If so, that’s great.

If you can’t find fun in your calendar, I recommend you read this piece: Why We All Need to Have More Fun in The New York Times. It can help you figure out how to get more fun into your life. Have you forgotten what fun is? It can help you there, too.

Let me add: keep track of the fun you are having. Some of it — maybe most of it — will actually come up accidentally in your week. Note the circumstances which lead to having fun. Try to include them intentionally in your next week.

Likewise, note the events you planned that turned out to be not so much fun. Perhaps you need a break from them.

Life can be hard and painful. It can also be fun. Make sure you get as much of the latter in as you can. Scheduling your fun can help there.

It’s Monday. Two ways to work better this week: more stretching and less control freaking

Here’s two piece of advice for you on a Monday morning: one is easy, one is hard.

First, the easy piece. You need to work more stretching into your day. Here’s some advice on how to do that. If it has been so long you don’t even remember how to stretch, I give you:

I don’t think you need a dozen stretches (but go for it if that makes you happy). I do four to six for about 20 seconds each and I find that very helpful. I try and focus on the parts of me that tend to get stiff or sore.

Now the hard piece. Does the following apply to you?

  • You’re a perfectionist with high standards (and you don’t trust anyone else to meet them).
  • You want to know every detail of an activity or event: Who, what, when, where, and why.
  • You over-plan and get upset when things don’t go the way you envisioned them.
  • There’s only one right way to do something—which happens to be yours.
  • You get angry when other people mess up your plan, or do things differently than you would.
  • You prefer to be in charge. That way, there will be fewer mistakes.
  • You have trouble giving others free rein to do things as they see fit. Instead, you micromanage.
  • You’re overly-critical of yourself and others.

That list comes from this piece: How to Stop Being Such a Control Freak. If one or more of them apply to you, you could be a control freak. It’s not a good way to be. If you would like to change that, I recommend you read that piece and work towards being less of one. The people around you would appreciate it.

(Image: link from Cup of Jo piece.)

It’s Monday, you need some healthy habits to add to your life. Here you go.

Biking
Now there are a million lists of such habits. However, I liked this recent one from the New York Times: Our Favorite Healthy Habits of 2021.  Here are three of their favorites that are my favorites too:

  1. Enjoy exercise snacks.
  2. Take a gratitude photo.
  3. Give the best hours of your day (or week – B) to yourself.

I’ve been doing the first one and I found it very useful. Even just some simple stretching each day makes a difference. As for the second one, every day I write down one thing I am grateful for and it makes me better too. As for the last one, I do that every weekend when I sit down to blog on Saturday. I need to it more often and during the week, too.

One healthy habit I need to revisit is biking/cycling. If you need convincing, read this by Clive Thompson. Austin Kleon is also a fan. Fun exercise is one of the best healthy habits you can take up.

Spring is a good time to adopt some healthy habits. I hope you can find some.

Stop giving the praise sandwich feedback, and other advice on giving good feedback at work

Image of feedback

Do you use the “praise sandwich feedback” approach at work? If you don’t know it, the approach is this: you take a piece of negative feedback and layer it between two pieces of positive feedback.  If you do know it and use it, consider reading these pieces for better ways on how to give feedback:

We all benefit from good feedback. Deliver it better. I’m sure you can.

P.S. One of the articles argues for Radical Candor. I can see it’s appeal, but I wrote before why it is usually not a good way to provide feedback. My arguments against it are here.

It’s Monday. Here’s how to work smarter and speak better


To be your best at work, you need plenty of skills. Hard skills for sure. But soft skills are the thing you need to really have a successful career. Here’s two good sources of information to help you with those skills.

First, check out this article on how to speak better in public: Demystifying Public Speaking . Whether you are talking to 2 or 2000 people, knowing how to do it effectively is an essential soft skill to have.

Second, if you want to have a long and successful career, you need to work smarter, not just harder. For ideas on how to do that, study this: Why Simply Hustling Harder Won’t Help You With the Big Problems in Life .

Ok, break’s over. Go and have a good Monday!

It’s Monday. Family Day. Here’s a guide to getting the rest you need, today and other days

It’s Monday, but it’s a long weekend here on the blog, thanks to Family Day. I hope you are getting a chance to spend time with your family and loved ones.

Long weekends are also good for catching up on your rest. But what sort of rest? It seems like an odd question. But after I read this, I realized it’s not odd at all:  The seven types of rest: I spent a week trying them all. Could they help end my exhaustion?

If you truly want to get some rest, read the article and reflect on what kind you need. For many of us, we think of rest as physical rest. But I know that sometimes I am not physically tired, but emotionally or mentally tired. And in times of great grief, I was spiritually tired.

We all need rest from time to time. Read that and make sure you get the kind you need.

Analog: a beautifully simple non-digital way to be productive

If you find yourself struggling with too many digital tools that don’t seem to help with being productive, consider this tool:  Analog: The Simplest Productivity System – Ugmonk.

It’s a very smart, very simple, and dare I say very productive way to get work done. If you love simplicity or love paper or both, then you owe it to yourself to check it out.

I linked to one of the images, but you really want to see all it is capable of by going to their site.

Hey, I know there is no one tool that will make you productive. But some tools are better than others, and you could find that Analog is one of those tools.

 

It’s Monday. Your resume could use a tuneup. Here’s a easy and fast way to do it

Chances are you have a weakness in your resume and you don’t even know it. (I did.) The weakness is the word “helped”. Sure, helping is good, and helping is likely something you did on the projects you worked on. But compared to other words, “helped” sounds weak. I’d advise you to upgrade it. For help on that, see this piece: Stop Saying You ‘Helped’ on Your Resume (and Use These Verbs Instead)

It’s a small thing, but I bet when you make the tuneup you’ll be glad you did.

It’s Monday. You want to be more productive. Maybe you need to be less available.


With all the ways people can reach you, you may find that you spend much of your time responding to requests and less time doing work you consider productive. Being responsive is good but not at the cost of being unproductive. If that sounds like you, I recommend you read this: I’m Not Sorry for My Delay – The Atlantic.

Much of the time we respond quickly because we feel we must. Being able to comfortably separate the times we must respond quickly versus the times we can respond slower is a worthwhile thing to cultivate. Reading that article can help you get there.

Here’s 100 ways to improve your life by tweaking it slightly


I love this: 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying | Life and style | The Guardian. While it’s great to tackle big resolutions in the new year, sometimes small changes are fine.

Here’s a few of the 100 to give you a sense of what they recommend:

24 Start a Saturday morning with some classical music – it sets the tone for a calm weekend.
25 Look closely.
27 If possible, take the stairs.
30 Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling.

I especially like 30!

While the Guardian says they are slight, I think some of them take a bit of work. But see for yourself. Look closely. 🙂

It’s Monday. The Holiday Season is Upon Us. You need help

The holiday season is upon us! If you need help, The Washington Post has your back with these tips for decorating — and staying organized — for the holidays.

Included are such classics as:

  • How to stay organized
  • How to pick a tree
  • How to do your lights

And more. Don’t fret. You can do it. It’s not too late. Grab a piece of paper and a candy cane and get working on planning, and more importantly ENJOYING, the holidays. Cheers!

You have some difficult things you need to get done. What you need is a hate day


According to this, a hate day is…

…a day each week when I lump together all the tasks that steal my energy to knock them out in one long, extended punch.

So if you have a pile of things you have putting off, that might be a way to do them. Now not only will you get them done, but you won’t be thinking about them all the time.

Some additional thoughts:

  • if a day seems too much, pick a part of the day you think is best. Even an afternoon can be good.
  • if you don’t get them all done, you still got some done. Remember that.
  • treat yourself afterwards if you can. Hey you did a hard thing!
  • give yourself a lot of credit for getting the hard things done. You should be proud!

P.S. Yes, there is a German word for it. According to the piece, it is called a “Kleinscheiss Tag”—or, “little shit day.”

 

It’s Monday. You have a difficult decision to make. Use this approach to make it

a ladder

If you have a difficult decision to make, then the 5-minute ladder rule is a good way to approach it. Essentially the ladder rule allows you ” to climb, one rung at a time, to a resolution. For example, at the first rung, ask yourself:

  • “Will this decision have a measurable or noticeable impact on my people, my company, or society?
  • Is this decision time-sensitive?”

The rest of the rungs and the approach in general can be found here: Stressing Out About a Tough Decision? Make it Easy with the 5-Minute ‘Ladder Rule’ | Inc.com.

Dealing with tough decisions is like falling into a big hole — it can overwhelm us. The ladder rule approach can help you get out of such overwhelming sitations. Give it a try.

(Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You need some inspirational quotes to perhaps fire you up. Here’s 10

EpictetusMark Dymond, a senior leader in my part of IBM, has put together a good list of leadership quotes that I think can benefit a wide range of people. My favorite of them is from one of my favorite thinkers, Epictetus:

Anyone can hold the tiller when the sea is calm.

Check out his list for the other 9. Worthwhile.

(Image of Epictetus from Wikipedia)

It’s Monday. You want to be more productive. Toss your todo list and project plans and use a Kanban board


It’s true: we can all get more done if we adopt Kanban boards, as this piece in TechRepublic argues. While todo lists are good, Kanban boards give you more. They show you your backlog (more or less your todo list). But they also show you todos in progress and what state they are in. That’s good. They’re more flexible than a project plan, which is great for when you aren’t sure of what it takes to get done. In effect, they lie somewhere between a todo list and a project plan.

Kanban boards are also good for prioritizing long lists of todos. The tasks that leave the backlog are the ones you have decided are the most important. That’s useful, especially if you are trying to communicate to someone else what is happening and what is on hold.

Kanban boards also give you a sense of progress. Sure there may be lots of things to do, but over time the Done column fills up. It can give you a real sense of accomplishment.

They have weaknesses though. If the tasks you include are too big, they may sit in one column for a long time. If the tasks are too small, they move quickly from backlog to done.  That said, those weaknesses can turn into strengths. Items that are too big should be broken down into parts. Small items can be lumped together with larger items or left off all together.

There’s lots of ways to create a Kanban board. Simply sticky notes can work. You can use a window or whiteboard or even fridge to attached them too. You can also use software tools. You can set up a spreadsheet with the various columns. You can use a tool like Workflowy to manage them. Trello boards are another source. You can even build your own, like I did using IBM Cloud years ago. 

While it may seem that they are tools for IT only, they actually can be used by anyone. For anything.  Moving your home? Use a Kanban tool. Planning a trip? Kanban it. Staging a big event? Well, you know.

So get out your todo list or your project plan and turn it into a Kanban board. You will see results soon enough.

(Image from the TechRepublic article)

 

It’s Monday. If you are feeling down on yourself and unmotivated, do this

It’s Monday. You are feeling unmotivated, insecure, lacking in confidence to do the things you have to do. One approach to deal with this is this? This: Motivate Yourself by Listing the Stuff You’re Already Doing Right

You may not realize it, but you already have such a list: it’s called your resume. Your resume is a list of stuff you’ve done or are doing right! Go check it out and see how great you are. If that isn’t enough, consider adding to it, even informally.

For fun, you can do a resume for all the other roles and skills you have, from

  • good friend, sibling,  relative or support person
  • good cook, runner, knitter, bartender, painter, coach, joke teller
  • expert or teacher on your favorite topics
  • &c

We are all good at so many things. Instead of fretting on your gaps or deficiencies, focus on your strengths. Try and deploy them this week and get things done.

It’s Monday. You need help planning. Maybe a better planner can help

As someone who does most of his planning digitally, it seems weird proposing people use this paper planner I found in a piece at Yanko Design. Even weirder, this planner comes to you via a kickstarter promotion, and I am reluctant to promote such things given my own bad experiences. But weird or not, this is a very nice planner at a very nice price, so if you are the type of person who likes paper, I highly recommend you go to their kickstarter and check it out.

The planner has many different types of pages: not just to-do lists and calenders. I can see it really helping people to get better organized and helping them to come up with new ideas and approaches. It might just be what you need to get better focused with your planning.

Head over to the kickstarter and decide for yourself!

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. Aim to do more this week by doing less


I know that sounds contradictory, but if you think about it and read this you will see it makes sense: Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less.

If you are like me and a lot of people, you take on many (too many) assignments and tasks. You feel like you are getting a lot done but it may not seem satisfying or even worthwhile. If so, take the approach outlined in the article and focus on a few things and cut out the clutter.

More and more I find the secret of being successful is saying no to most things. You need to Marie Kondo your todo list and work on the tasks that bring you joy. It’s not always possible, but more possible than you think.

Good luck!

(Photo by Fernando Hernandez on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Midsummer in the pandemic, WFH. You don’t want to do anything? This can help

Let’s face it: it can be hard at times to want to do anything, especially these days, the dog days of summer. You likely are getting tired from being at home all the time. The thought that the pandemic shows no sign of dying off doesn’t help. It’s also hot, and that can sap your morale too. What can you do?

Well, two things. First off, read this: How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Want to Do Anything – The New York Times. There’s some thoughtful advice on how to get enough motivation to do something. Don’t expect things to change overnight, but you can learn from it and get started.

If you are still struggling, maybe you need a better set up at home. If so, read this: 5 Habits of People Who Are Especially Productive Working from Home

Finally, maybe you need to create a short list of easy things to do to gain some momentum. I wrote about how you can do that, here.

We all fall into the doldrums from time to time. The quicksand of life, so to speak. Just stay positive and keep moving however slowly and you’ll get unstuck sooner than you think.

P.S. Finally grab one thing you love to do and do it. Don’t worry about being productive. Just focus on doing something.

(Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You need a better way to use the pomodoro technique. Read this


There are two things I struggle with when it comes to the pomodoro technique and maybe you struggle with them too. First thing is the length of the pomodoro: 25 minutes is a loooong stretch for me somedays. Sometimes I may not even be able to do 5 minutes at a time. Second thing is that the timer is a distraction: I keep checking the time versus focusing what I am supposed to be doing.

If you also struggle with that, then read this: I Created The Best-Ever Pomodoro Timer, Just For You by Clive Thompson. Clive has the same problems I have and he writes about them there. Better still, he made a better pomodoro timer. Go check it out.

Your week will be more focused and productive because of it.

(Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You’re todo list isn’t working for you. Here’s what you should consider


It’s Monday. You are trying to plan your day, your week, and you are struggling. It may just be you, but chances are it is the act of writing out your todo list. To see what I mean, read this excellent piece by my online friend and great writer, Clive Thompson. Everyone struggles with todo lists and the tools used to work with them. I know I do. I have used many such tools over time and have never landed on the perfect one.

So here’s what I recommend:

  1. First, acknowledge todolist tools are blunt instruments at best. Don’t try too hard to do everything with one tool. Do the best you can.
  2. Second, acknowledge that it is easy to overwhelm todo list tools with data. When you do, you end up spending more time working with the tool then getting things done. Try to hold back.
  3. Third, understand the level of granularity to require. Start high level on your todo lists and then drill down only if you have to.
  4. Finally, separate planning and reporting from todo lists. Your plans should drive your todo lists. Focus on more on achieving your plans and your goals and less on your tasks. Then when you are done, report what is necessary.

Todo list tools are good to help you achieve your tasks. But focus less on your tasks and tools and more on what you are trying to achieve.

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Here’s some advice on how to work hard EFFECTIVELY. (Think Marathon training)

Marathon event

It’s Monday. You have a work week ahead of you. Here’s a good essay by Paul Graham on: How to Work Hard – Paul Graham

I often disagree with Graham on Twitter and you may too. However don’t be put off by that: his essays tend to be well thought out and worthy of a read and your consideration.

As for me, where I learned how to work hard effectively is during marathon training. Training for a marathon is a form of hard work. I would argue it is the best form of hard work. Here’s why.

For marathon training, you need:

  1. a clear goal. For many people, it is to finish the marathon. Or to finish it under a certain time. There are subgoals too: not get injured during the race, or to race easy, or to have a negative split. To work hard effectively, you need goals and subgoals
  2. a well thought out plan. People who train effectively for a marathon have a well thought out plan to achieve their goal. These plans can be anywhere from 12-20 weeks and describe what you are doing each day. The plan is often broken up into phase: a phase where you build up your mileage, a phase where you work to get faster, and a tapering phase. A good training plan gets you much closer to achieving your goal.
  3. A mix of hard and easy training. No one goes hard every day in marathon training. You will fail if you do. Overall the training is hard, but there are many days where it is easy. Days your body gets to recover. Some days you may not train at all. The most effective way to work hard over a long period of time is to mix in easy periods.
  4. A good amount of fun and variety. Yes, good marathon training has fun and variety mixed in. It’s not the same every day. It’s not all a grind. Good marathon runners will run fartleks for fun or run with friends to help keep their spirits up. They might mix in some cross training. They rarely run the same distance every day.
  5. Passion and vision. More than anything, you need these. You need to have a strong desire to get through the training. A desire that gets you out of bed for those long runs when you really don’t want to. You need to have a vision of where you will end up when you complete the training. Successful marathoners see themselves reaching that goal most days of their training. It’s the thing that gets them excited to run the same routes over and over again. It’s the thing that gets them pumped when they have to charge up hills. Preparing for a marathon can’t feel like a job if you are going to do it well.

Now ask yourself about hard work that you have to do? Do you have those things. That hard project you have in front of you: are you passionate about it? Do you have a vision of what completing it looks like? Do you have a clear goal and a well thought out plan? Do you have a practice of taking breaks, or is it full tilt all the time? Is it merely a grind, or do you have fun and variety in it? If you have all the features of marathon training in your plan, chances are you will be able to work hard, very hard, and be successful.

Do work hard poorly is to waste yourself, to waste your life. Don’t do that. Work hard effectively and  make the most of your life.  Good luck!

(Photo by Capstone Events on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. You need to start writing better emails. This can help


It’s Monday. Most of you need to write better emails. Want to know how to do that? Read this: How to Write Less Terrible Emails If Writing Doesn’t Come Easy to You. You will learn several good things from that article, including how to structure your email. Essentially your emails should be in this form:

1. Greeting
2. Ask or action requested
3. Concise description of context and impact
4. Closing

Now some of you may say: I don’t need email, I have Slack. Trust me: you still need email and you need to know how to construct good emails. Read that and you will.

If you don’t have to send email, then don’t. That’s the best option. But if you do, send a good one.

It’s Monday. Time to rewrite those S.M.A.R.T. goals. Here’s why

If you’ve done any work on goal setting, you’ve likely heard of SMART goals. You may even have used them to achieve an outcome you wanted. That’s good. Before you do that again, read this good argument on why you need to critically rethink the use of them: SMART Goals Are Overrated.

For example do you do this? Do you say: S.M.A.R.T. stands for…

Specific, Measurable, something, something, Time-bound. There’s disagreement on what some of the letters stand for, which is our first hint that maybe they’re not that important.

Yep, I do that too. I usually get the R (realistic), but then I get tripped up on the A (if it’s Achievable, how is that different than Realistic?).

Ok, you say, fine…it’s a weak acronym, but it still works. True, it can work. It can help you define your goal and get it done.  But as the article says, you can end up getting “tunnel vision”.  Instead of aiming on achieving your utmost, you settle for something smaller that you can measure and achieve in a set time. That’s less than ideal.

The article goes on and promotes the idea that you should…

Deliberately remove one or more of those SMART parameters and push yourself to see what you can achieve when it’s no longer a pass/fail test.

I like that. Essentially use the SMART goal as a stepping stone to a much large goal that may not be achievable or timely but it’s a goal that gets you excited.

Because here’s the thing: SMART goals may be achievable but they might not be the thing that gets you up early in the morning to do the thing you have to do to achieve your goal. Sometimes you need that big goal, that vision of something great, that …that is the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning.

So yes, SMART goals are good. But tweak them and stretch them and build upon them and make something better. You may find that you not only achieve more goals, but you achieve bigger goals too.

(Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Why are you working more than five hours a day?


It’s Monday. You are only working five hours today, right? I bring this up because I recently read this piece in Wired on how that is the right amount of hours to work each day, and how people who worked that way were more productive.

Of course there are a few caveats. For one thing, many jobs are not mainly focused on being productive. Anyone who has a job that requires many meetings can tell you that. But if you have a job that is largely focused on producing things, then try and limit yourself to five hours.

(Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. You want to stop procrastinating. You need to use your brain (better)


It’s Monday. If you are struggling with procrastinating, here is a good article on how to finally stop procrastinating for real this time. Basically in order to understand why you are procrastinating, you need to understand there are two parts of your brain that are influencing your behaviour. Knowing this can help you change. Here’s a key quote:

…there’s a part of the brain that accurately weighs the benefits of a behavior against its costs. This is your neocortex, and it’s one of the newest and shiniest parts of our brains. Very often, the neocortex comes to quite reasonable conclusions—that, for instance, the benefits of exercising outweigh the costs. But there’s another part of your brain that’s been around for millions of years—the limbic system—and it only seems to care about what’s happening right now. So if a behavior incurs more upfront hassles than upfront benefits, the limbic system isn’t interested in participating.

For more on this, read the article. It will help you get your neocortex and your limbic system working together. If you do that, you will definitely procrastinate less.

(Photo by Jason Strull on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Here’s how to link your days together to make for a more productive week


Often times we start the week productive, but then things unravel midweek, until we are saying thank god it’s Friday and we are left wondering how things went so off track.

To avoid this, build bridges from one day to the next. To do this, at the end of your work day, leave aside a task or an activity that you can start on immediately the next day. This task bridges the days. Hemingway did it and Tharp did it and you can too.

By bridging like this, you already know what your work looks like tomorrow. This helps give you focus when you start your day and it will make you productive for the rest of the day. If you do this daily, it will propel you effectively through the work week too.

Bridging can be hard to do that on some teams. Some team leaders will not let go of a problem on any given day because they are worried that it won’t get done tomorrow. But here too, a bridge can be good. At the end of the day, summarize what was done today and what the next step is and how you plan to tackle it first thing on the next work day. This will give them confidence it will be done, and it will give you assurance you know what your priority on the next day.

For more on this, read this article: The Super Simple End-of-the-Day Hack That Makes Every Morning More Productive | Apartment Therapy

(Photo by kyler trautner on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You have a stressful week ahead. Here’s how to better deal with it

Stress in life is unavoidable (despite how much you are trying to avoid it). The question is: what is the best way of dealing with it when it occurs? If you do not have any strategies to deal with it (other than run away), then read this: How to Turn Off Harmful Stress Like a Switch.

Sometimes just knowing you have one or more tools available to you can automatically reduce your stress. Read that and load up your stress toolbox.

P.S. If you need more tools, see this piece in the New York Times.

It’s Monday. You have some difficult tasks in front of you this week. Here’s some help with that.

It’s always hard to deal with difficult tasks. If you are struggling, read this: Getting Good at Just Starting a Difficult Task – zen habits zen habits.

I especially liked the idea of making it meaningful and joyful. Sometimes just thinking about how you will feel when it is done brings joy. Focus on that.

Also shrink it down. I sometimes make a difficult task more difficult by imagining all the follow on activities. That’s wrong. Stay focused, break down the task, make it easier to do the next thing.

Good luck!

(Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. A good time to remember there is something better than willpower to succeed


It’s Monday. You might be thinking: I could be more successful if only I had more willpower. I am here to challenge that with this article: Willpower Isn’t the Key to Success.

In a nutshell, set yourself up so that the thing you need least of all is willpower. It’s easier said than done, I know. But it is true: the easier it is to start something, the less effort is required, the easier it is to succeed. Easier, but not necessarily easy.

Focus on setting yourself up for success. Once you start making progress, you may find your willpower is increasing along with everything else.

It’s Monday. Here’s a guide for teens to cope with anxiety that you too should read

Sign with the word Emotions on it.
Wait a second, you say. I am not a teen with anxiety, and I don’t know any. Fine, read this anyway: How to cope with teen anxiety | Psyche Guides

We all have a mix of bad feelings at all stages of our lives. You are likely reading this on a Monday: don’t tell me you don’t have some bad feelings right now. 🙂 The good news is that techniques used in CBT can help you deal with those feelings, whether you are somewhat anxious or depressed.

Not only that, but I think CBT can help people with feelings like being bored, disappointed or frustrated. Feelings you may feel weighing on you that don’t make you feel good. You can use it to shake yourself our of your current mindset which may not be helpful to you and move you into a better mindset.

Take those emotions that don’t make you feel your good self and move towards some better ones. Hey, it’s Monday: a good day to take a crack at it.

All the best.

(Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Unsplash)

It’s Monday! You need help in keeping going. This can be the thing you need

Dontt give up sign

It’s Monday! The first of March! We’ve been doing this stupid pandemic thing for a year now. We’ve managed somehow, and we have to continue to manage.

If that sounds daunting to you, I highly recommend this article: An Ode to Low Expectations in The Atlantic. I think it could be just the thing to help you get through the week, the month, and the rest of the pandemic.

We talk about managing their expectations. It’s never more important to do that in turbulent times with feelings of great anticipation.

Good luck! Appreciate what you have. Things will get better.

(Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. How are you doing? Not sure? Here’s a checklist to help you find out


With the pandemic, it’s easy to get into a mindset of thinking things aren’t going well and you aren’t doing well. I get it. But guess what? Chances are you are doing well. To see what I am getting at, check out this checklist.

It won’t take more than 5 minutes to do, but after you do it, you will think:

  1. Hey, I’m doing more good things than I give myself credit for
  2. Oh dear, I really need to work on X and Y and Z

Ok. Great! You now know you are doing better than you thought (give yourself a pat on the back). You also have a list of items to work on improving. It’s Monday: make up a plan to work on them this week.

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. Your brain is barely functioning. Great news! You don’t need it!

Damaged brain due to fluid

You might think I am joking but I am not.

Take a look at the photo above. This is a scan of a living man’s brain: the black part is fluid, while the part around the black part is his remaining brain. Essentially 90% of his brain has been displaced by the fluid. And yet he was considered a functioning person, despite only have 10% of a brain mass most people have.

The story behind the scan and the questions that it raises is in this article: A civil servant missing most of his brain challenges our most basic theories of consciousness.

Fascinating. Perhaps in a few years / centuries we will understand how the brain works. For now we are mostly clueless, much like you are while you wait for your coffee to kick in. 🙂

4 p.m. recipes: two updates on some classic pasta dishes

I got into a habit of making pasta on Mondays: there is so much happening on Mondays for me, and pasta dishes were a way to allow me to multi-task and make dinner, help with homework, clean-up, &c.

If you feel overwhelmed on Monday, or simply if you love pasta, then I recommend you try pasta Mondays. Worst case, just keep it simple and use pre-made sauces. If you would prefer to make  things from scratch, then here are two updates on  some classic pasta dishes:

Pasta Carbonara With Spicy Sausage Recipe from Real Simple

The Best Macaroni & Cheese You’ll Ever Have from a Cup of Jo blog

Enjoy!