Monday, May 13, 2013

on productivity (and what it takes)

My friend likes to think that I write all my blog posts about him.  So, in a friendly move, I'm actually writing one about him.  (You're welcome.)

At dinner a while ago, he and I talked about his new job, and how part of the reason he took the job was to prove to himself that he could.  I've always known he could, but I've never doubted his professional skills the way he has.  One thing I know about him -- if he says he's going to do it (for work), he'll work hard to make sure it's done.

We had dinner again recently, and in talking about our schedules, he told me that he's still working the same ridiculous hours -- full, long work weeks and consistently working on weekends.  I've been telling him for years (and, in his defense, he's been agreeing with me for years -- though not doing anything about it) that working harder and longer is not necessarily the key to working better.

And luckily, I found an article recently that says I might be right.

Relax! You'll Be More Productive, written by Tony Schwartz for the New York Times says, "A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health."

Schwartz goes on to praise what he calls "renewals" -- naps, vacations, times in which the mind is quiet -- and the beneficial impact they have on our ability to stay focused and work smarter.  "By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably," he argues.  

See the rest of it for yourself here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


A dear friend of mine recently sent me a podcast about vulnerability that was part of an hour-long TED program created by NPR (a good remix if you're tired of listening to TED talks that rely heavily on visuals).  In this talk, Brene Brown -- a woman I had heretofore avoided because I saw she had been on Oprah and, well, that made me doubt how uncheesy she was going to be -- focuses on shame and vulnerability.  She defines shame as more ore less this fear:  "is there something about me, that if other people know it or see it, that I won't be worthy of connection?"

She tells the story about her struggle with vulnerability and the research she's done around people who are willing to be vulnerable.

It's a great listen: