cutting screen time: embracing turnoffs

Few of us wake up in the morning looking forward to a day of turnoffs.Turn-your-email-off

Yet such days can be filled with the kind of productivity and focus simply not possible without them. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have demonstrated concrete findings that reveal how removing the nonstop distractions of email during the workday not only reduces stress but enables tangibly sharper focus. “We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said informatics professor Gloria Mark, who coauthored the study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons,” with a UCI project scientist and U.S. Army senior research scientist, funded by the Army and the National Science Foundation.

continue reading…

moving forward: reading & righting

Arguments. Disagreements. Disputes.

Or perhaps with a bit of floor polish: contretemps.

They have happened every day among friends, lovers, relatives, spouses and business associates since the beginning of time. Must this state of affairs continue unabridged, accepted as the cost of getting up in the morning, as inevitable as stale bread? Or can people learn to read problems in light of the bigger picture by considering the brevity of life and how genuinely good it feels to be generous, to be forgiving, to be proactive in righting the mistakes that each of us inevitably make? Does the ego really need to hold sway as some sort of unchecked emotional dictatorship?

continue reading…

the meter of daily life: electric company

The refrigerator and stove. ATM and auto-pay. Self-service checkout.20110912170939_Choclectrique

The computer, smartphone and iEverything. Facebook and Twitter. Google and untold others.

Drive-up, drive-through, drop-off everything.

These and all the other accoutrements of daily living can be accomplished with little or no human interaction. But what do our hours mean without meaningful or even passing companionship? In the drive for technological supremacy and efficiency, many tasks can now be accomplished at any hour of day or night, with just a few keystrokes or drops of gas.

continue reading…

the result of indecision: bad whether

In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare makes clear that “our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to badwhetherattempt.” Over four hundred years later, these measured words are as relevant as ever. Must indecision continue to rule the centuries like some perverse King Henry loop?

Three weeks ago, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in a way that was initially presented as decisive action, yet was anything but that as its gestation and subsequent reporting had more back-and-forth lobs than a championship tennis match.

The business world rarely has so much at stake (though, to be sure, untold lives have perished due to mercenary decisions and cut corners), yet reckless overspending, massive layoffs and criminal conduct routinely hit the headlines. At the same time, nimble organizations that can decisively weather crises, adapt to changing circumstances and wear the non-stretchable fabric of integrity not only survive but thrive.

continue reading…

the brain-body connection: flat tired

a lack of transparency: stained glass

Why is transparency within the realm of all types of communication—friend-friend, parent-child, husband-wife, manager-employee—so consistently elusive? Why StainedGlassmust the ego so quickly approach the greasy fast-fed drive-thru that values expediency and quick profit over healthy dialogue? Why do so many start with perfection as the baseline, from which there is no room to breathe?

Imagine almost any type of scenario. You’ve borrowed a friend’s or parent’s car and have had an accident that was your fault; does the car’s owner not far more appreciate an immediate admission and pledge to do whatever it takes to right the situation, rather than an elusive answer and possible insurance or courtroom fight? You’ve missed a Friday deadline at work to the detriment of a client relationship; does the client not far more appreciate an immediate call and pledge to work through the entire weekend to right the situation, rather than an elusive excuse and possible contractual fight?

continue reading…

complacency as the rival of fulfillment: dashbored

team-965093_1920No job is filled with creativity and fulfillment 100% of the time. And yet we’re all born with passions that should be fully explored in the search for fulfilling careers. They’re out there; are you rushing to find them? Do you squeeze the most juice from each day? Maybe you love the outdoors; choose one of countless jobs that has you experiencing sunlight over fluorescent lights, breathing natural air rather than that from filtered air conditioning. Maybe you love food; choose one of equally countless jobs that has you preparing, cooking, creating, serving, owning. Do you get the idea? Choose!

continue reading…

at a minimum: cardboard & character

How easy to take for granted…21437141974_27d3aacbc3_b

…the hundreds of thousands of people—men and women with lives, loves and labors—who are responsible for that cardboard carton carrying everything from beer and books to papers and paraphernalia.

The factory workers, the salespeople, the layers of middle and upper management, the stockholders who provide capital for payroll and expansion, the drivers who long-haul these yet-to-be-filled and already-filled boxes, the cities and states that depend upon the accompanying toll revenues, the highway workers who in turn pave and upkeep those very well-traveled roads, the bricks-and-mortar and online workers who stock, pack and send the boxes, the lawyers and doctors who stack them rafter-high, the paper recyclers alert to these soon-to-be discarded cartons…. All of them spend their earned income on themselves, and their families and friends, which in turn creates sustenance for so many more.

continue reading…

taking small steps: light switch

light switch

Your job isn’t going quite the way you’d like. Perhaps it’s a recalcitrant employee, or if you’re on the other side of the door, an obstinate boss. Making even slight changes will go a long way toward showing your flexibility and understanding. Most people naturally and rightly respond to sincere effort. Stay an extra 10 or 15 minutes at the office a few days a week, or come in a bit earlier. Take all of five seconds to offer a good word or acknowledgement of a task well done.

continue reading…

storing and accessing mistakes: I cloud

Making mistakes can be a source of true peace.

What a ridiculous statement, no? How could it be so, and why does it never feel that way at the moment?Erasing

For those determined to move ahead tangibly—both personally and professionally—and not just to aspire, the follow-up question, “What can be gleaned from this?” is key. None of us can know at all times where to step and where to avoid, what to do and what to avoid, how to embrace and how to avoid; such a valuable avoidance instinct can only be built up over time, over problems solved, over situations lived through.

As long as we recognize that being perfect is not only unrealistic but impossible, and that freely admitting inevitable mistakes is a sign of strength and self-awareness rather than weakness, we open ourselves to lasting progress and development. The instinct to cover up mistakes or to spin them in a more favorable light is surely natural; who, after all, wants to walk around with errors hanging from the emotional rafters, with slips stuck to public message boards?

continue reading…