October 4, 2011
Consider Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, one representing the intellectual side, the other our most base inclinations. It’s often the case our Dr. Jekyll is unable to get work done because Mr. Hyde wants to browse Pinterest and jettison some angry avian projectiles. Unfortunately, dealing with a case of short attention span is worse now thanks to online access, the myriad of diversionary entertainment options, and even that smartphone you keep checking every few seconds. Distractions like these divide attention, time, and therefore affect the quality of work you do. However there’s one trick that can keep you on the straight and narrow to build better work habits.
It’s all too easy to get distracted from work on the computer. But there’s a simple technique to help regain focus: create a new User account, one specifically designed for getting work done. That means creating a desktop stripped of extraneous bookmarks, applications, music and movie files, plug-ins, extensions…unless they’re designed for task management or your work related projects. Think of this desktop as your work persona. Creating a dedicated account for work related tasks is like having a work outfit compared to the comfy-cozy sweatpants of leisurely online time.
August 23, 2011
Gregory Han, Unplggd’s editor, weighs in on the overwhelming amount of social media available to us. I’m just like Gregory in my social media habits – in fact looking at that list the only thing I’m not involved in is foursquare! Joining Google+ was the tipping point for me. I am now in the throws of trying to figure out how to cut back. And it looks like Gregory is going through exactly the same thing. (Note: This is obviously a hot topic. Check out this piece I came across on Boing Boing…distraction can be seen as the flip-side of concentration – and meditating is the key to treading a line between the two.)
Gregory Han: “I’m currently taking inventory of all the log-in passwords and accounts in my password management application (LastPass changed my life), and it really hit home after scrolling through the seemingly endless list of services how many darn online social-style sites and apps I’m signed up to use. Facebook, Twitter, Twitpic, Spotify, LinkedIn, Last.FM, Music Beta by Google, WordPress, Flickr, foursquare, Pinterest, Tumblr, DailyMile, I Heart It, NeighborGoods, and most recently, Google+. And these are just the ones I still frequent/use, with a few like StumbleUpon, Nike+, and Polyvore fading out into the distance where Friendster and my old LiveJournal account have gone to pasture…
It all started off so fun, but somewhere down the line, maintaining a steady stream of content and sharing across all these sites can end up feeling like a job in itself. Am I neglecting my still infantile, pink-toed Google+ stream? Did I get to responding to all of the various Twitter DMs received, shout outs from friends and readers? It’s been awhile since I added photos to my Flickr feed. Hey, here’s a handful of Pinterest RePins! And I just remembered all of the membership sales sites I subscribe to…
Not this situation is anyone’s fault but my very own, as I’m admittedly what writer Robert Anton Wilson once labeled as a “Neophiliac” (is there a cream for this type of itch?) when it comes to new services promising an Aladdin-ish, whole new world. I could make the argument it’s all related to both my personal and professional life, but in the end, all these online social services create as much work as my paying job already presents. Masochism is inviting more email notifications willingly into your inbox.
So this weekend, I’m going on the online equivalent of one of those sketchy “cleanse diets”, but in this case I’m aiming to shed some online bulk and close up a few accounts.
February 10, 2011
John Kim, our Better World marketing manager (got to love that title!) sent me over this link today. It’s a piece on work habits by Mark McGuinness (via 99%). I’ve pulled a few points I thought might interest Lifework readers. For the whole piece click here.
1. Get an armchair for your office. Or have a breakout space or café close at hand, and give yourself permission to use it.
2. Pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day. When they start to dip, it’s time to take a break — or switch chairs. A change is as good as a rest, remember!
3. Notice how you feel after sitting in your armchair. If you feel bored or sluggish, you’re spending too much time there (more couch potato than armchair creative!). But if you feel fresh enthusiasm, it shows the armchair is doing a good job of recharging your creative batteries.
4. Switch tools. If you normally type on a laptop, get a pad and paper. If you normally use a pen and paper, use a different pen and paper! (I’m serious — your nervous system will register different associations with different tools. Try it.)
5. Ignore sludge. “Sludge” is the name Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson (creators of the Results Only Work Environment approach to corporate culture) give to the sarcastic comments co-workers make about behavior that doesn’t conform to their idea of productivity. E.g. “I wish I had time to loaf around in the middle of the day.”
6. Look back on your week on Friday afternoon. Where did your best ideas come from? Where did you do your most productive thinking? Where did you add most value? (Just make sure you do this review from the comfort of your armchair!)
January 13, 2011
You know the drill. You have a creative skill other people don’t–say, graphic design, video editing, or copywriting. You do great work. You’re always looking for more exposure and pieces to add to your body of work. And on top of that, let’s not lie: you’re a very cool person.
People know you and like you–and don’t mind asking if they could hit you up for the occasional gig that doesn’t actually pay, but could offer a “great portfolio piece!” or the possibility of future work. Should you help out? Find out with this clever flowchart from typographer and illustrator (and future Playlister–stay tuned!) Jessica Hishe.
Balance, Design, Technology
June 9, 2010
We discovered the smart work of fashion-lifestyle photographer Anna Wolf after interviewing Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney (Anna shot Grace’s portrait—see it here). Soon after, we happened upon her blog and thought, “Hey, bet she’d create a pretty cool playlist.” And she did. Take a look and a listen.
Do you listen to music while you work? When I work in studio, it’s a lot of really mellow music. I’m on the phone and writing emails a lot, so it needs to be something that can kind of blend into the background. When I’m on set, it tends to be more upbeat and more poppy.
How do you listen? In studio (which I share with my boyfriend), we’re all on a network. So our computers feed into a receiver and through really good speakers. On set, I’ll rent a portable iPod dock or a lot of times I bring this little red speaker that you plug your iPod/iPhone into. It’s small but super loud and is so easy to just throw in a bag and go.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Well, I’m probably pretty late in the game, but I am really loving Pandora right now.
Does music influence your work? I think music most influences me when I’m working on personal stuff. Not so much on set or when I’m in studio doing all the back-end business stuff. There was a time in college when I was staying up super late, listening to Red House Painters on repeat, and making collages and little books.
Where do you find music recommendations? Most of my music comes from friends, people who know what I like and tell me to download a certain artist or album. I really do love Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR, but don’t listen to it as much now that I live in NYC.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Wow, that’s a really serious question! I’ve been totally in love with the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack lately—songs by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The music is so hopeful, sincere, and beautiful. Some songs are really mellow and some move faster with more energy. When I first heard the album, I thought it was all different artists since the songs are so varied. I think I could get behind that album as representative of the range of my work!
Live to Tell the Tale, Passion Pit
Hideaway, Karen O and the Kids
Sorrow Tears and Blood, Fela Kuti
Into the Sun, Diplo
The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon and Garfunkel
Fun Powder Plot, Wild Beasts
No One Does It Like You, Department of Eagles
I Get Low, Timber Timbre
Re: Stacks, Bon Iver
Ash Wednesday, Elvis Perkins
Nickel Bags, Digable Planets
Send It On, D’Angelo
By Your Side, Sade
Hometown Glory, Santigold
Peace Train, Cat Stevens
Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear
Knife, Grizzly Bear
Turn Me On (Kevin Lyttle cover), CocoRosie
Everyman…Everywoman, Yoko Ono
Images: Anna Wolf; Studio Photos: Monica Pendergrass
December 18, 2009
Unplugged by designer Frederic Terral
No wonder Jim Collins is so successful. Collins, author of Built to Last and How the Mighty Fall, told the HBR Editors’ Blog that he blocks four hours every day for thinking—and he unplugs from all technology to make sure he’s not interrupted. He calls these blocks of time “white space” and recommends everyone create some every day. Does anyone out there do this? If so, in what ways? We’d love to hear from you.