We often read how important is our time. This post is not about the meaning of life, though. There are several studies that have highlighted that people are likely to sacrifice a compensation component (a bonus for example) in exchange for free time. It is interesting, isn’ it?
How do you use your free time at work? You can use your spare time at work to rest a bit… however, is it worth? You should invest your time; use it for training purposes, to meet new people or to nurture your network.
Changing is not easy. Suprise? Surely not.
You need to decide to change and you need to be ready for it. You can decide to change but also other people can “decide” for you. An example at work? You are asked to learn something new or you need to perform a new task.
You need to invest energies if you want to maintain your new behaviour over time. If adopting a new behaviour is just a response to an external event, you are reacting more than changing. In other words, if the results of a change were immediate and visible, you would just modify something or react
Dedication and hard work lead to the creation of new actions and habits. You must keep working and remaining patient even if you fail during this changing process. Only if you’d continue to invest time and energies, you will change.
There are articles, blogs (like mine), presentations, and speakers that illustrate best practices or suggestions about certain topics. They talk about work, motivation, training etc. Really any kind of topic.
When we read these suggestions, we tend to copy exactly the “recipe” and adopt it as such. If we behave in this way, we make a mistake. Why are we mistaken? We read articles that come from personal experiences or events that happen in a specific context; they are therefore subjective. For this reason, you have to be able to step back, understand the proposed solution and try to adapt it to your context. Of course, you can also adopt the solution as it is; however, you should look at the results as an experiment and not give a final opinion on it. This is true for business or personal decisions; even about your career development. We need to treat the proposed solution as an experiment and then adopting or modifying it to make it ours.
I’m not saying that we should stop reading… otherwise this blog would not exist either. You have to take inspiration and look for your solution. Find your way.
In most organizations, we manage our own working time around meetings. In order to make our time effective we try to match our tasks with the meetings requests that we receive; unfortunately, we often end up with the so-called “back to back“.
We need to find time for ourselves. To do what? Several things. It is true that attending many meetings gives you visibility and allow you to proceed with your work tasks (well, not always) …. however, in order to complete your work, to grow and develop you have to think about what’s really important. You need to dedicate time to training, networking or sorting out your work admin.
What is an easy solution to reduce your back to back?
Block your calendar! It allows you to handle also any last-minute requests without having to worry too much. Try it out and you will notice that you’d manage better your work priorities and your needs (=training and work tasks).
Taking time for yourself is not exactly what you are thinking of. No, I’m not saying that you need time off or you have to quit... well, that’s not a bad idea if you hate your job.
I often write about career management, career’s choices and which competencies you should have to be more effective at work. I have always been passionate about these topics and the ones related to the personal development and growth (learning, organisation’s support and psychological concepts). In order understand your career you need to invest time in a self-reflection exercise. You need to be consistent and organised; you can’t improvise.
You need to schedule time for yourself. If you do not do it, you might end up thinking about your career when you are stressed or when you have done something wrong at work; if it is the case, the negative thoughts about yourself will distract you from having an objective evaluation and you will end up being over critical with yourself. Being constant and focused on this exercise will improve your approach to self-reflection, even if at the beginning it is going to be difficult and painful.
As mentioned before you can’t improvise. Why? You need quiet time and you need to be ready also at the emotional level. You can’t rush it for 10 minutes in a middle of a busy day at work. Your emotions, the stress and the lack of time could lead to hasty conclusions. It is important to create your “lab” when you are alone with your thoughts. Let’s say, you need at least 30 minutes a week; 30 minutes when you slow down and think. As I said in a recent post about curiosity, you should spend some time researching, studying and understanding. Give space to the curiosity about yourself. Give yourself time to think about it.
This self-reflection time is very important. More than you think. Try and let me know.
We often read articles about the skills and the competencies that each professionals should have. It is clearly important to have good analytical skills, being able to communicate well and navigate the politics of your organisation.
We should consider the programming skills, not only for software development roles. Steve Jobs was used to say that everyone should be able to program. Why? Not because we need to be developers; we need to be able to program and writing software because it “will teach us how to think”. He was used to say the same thing about studying Law as different approach to reasoning. In other words, you should train yourself to think with a different mind-set. To be honest, it reminded me what my high school teacher was used to say about Latin language. However, I’d really like to invite all to watch Steve Jobs’ interview with Robert Cringely in 1995 … impressive accuracy in presenting scenarios that will happen 20 years later.
The interview made me think how is important to have curiosity. Our curiosity is the engine of many of our actions and it is the energy that boosts our knowledge. You do not need only to show curiosity, you need to be curious. Why is curiosity so important? We discover something new thanks to our curiosity. If we are not curious, we’d never discover our areas of development. Doing research, the stress (or pleasure) of learning new things, reading, researching… These are the results of our curiosity. Curiosity is the mechanism that pushes you into difficult situations and it is also what pushes us to travel and discover new places. Curiosity is also the desire to know other people. Understand them, do not understand them and try to understand why we are not understanding them.
Being curious comes for free… let me think about a MBA….
I’ve attended a talk about tricks we can adopt in order to engage other people and having a focused audience. Considering that having the attention of colleagues or other stakeholders is fundamental in any jobs, I was very interested in listening to the presenter. He was talking and I was listening. As the presentation continued, I started becoming too “familiar” with the concepts that he was explaining. The tricks and the examples used resonated too familiar. How? Why? The presentation was very similar to one that I’ve listened to almost 5 years ago. Fine with it. Being original is not always easy (well, hard to say which of the two presentations was inspired by the other).
Among the tricks presented in order to keep the attention of your audience, he suggested swearing. The reason? You catch the attention of the audience and you break the status quo. Let’s say that the goal is understandable, particularly if it is a lengthy presentation; however, in my opinion, it is not the way. The focus falls naturally. There are several work psychology studies that measure the so-called attention span; on average, our attention span ranges between 45 minutes and 75 minutes. As said, after 5 years, I still do not agree with swearing just to keep the audience focused. Call me old fashioned on this; however, I prefer techniques that are more intelligent, simple and refined. If you are not presenting exciting subjects, use images, examples or ask questions to the audience. Do not forget to create an interactive environment.