Tony Schwartz, Founder of The Energy Project, is an expert on managing his energy. He speaks often (including at 99U), advising creatives to take breaks and recharge. But recently, he found himself exhausted. So what does an expert on energy do when he has none? From his post on The Energy Project company blog:
I woke up one morning about four weeks ago and realized in a flash that I’d hit a wall. Most days I can’t wait to get to work. On this day, I struggled to get myself out of the house.
One of the primary principles of the work we teach at The Energy Project is that the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for recovery. I needed a vacation, but what I needed most of all was a period of total digital disconnection. My brain felt overloaded and I needed time to clear it out.
Tony’s struggles should serve as a reminder to us all: knowing what to do and doing it are miles apart. Even Tony, who thinks about his energy levels everyday can get caught up in the busy trap. Luckily, he was able to take a break and get back to feeling like himself again with a slightly new routine:
Twice a week — including this morning — I’m spending the first several hours of the day at home, working on projects that require focused attention, with my email and internet turned off. At the end of each work day, I’m going to spend at least a half-hour reading — and savoring — a book. The key to being more fully absorbed is to regularly and fully disconnect.
We’re all about the face-to-face conversation, but with the rise of remote teams, communicating via IM becomes an increasingly important skill. Github’s Zach Holman shares why he actually prefers that workplace communication happen via instant messaging:
Text is explicit. By forcing communication through a textual medium, you’re forcing people to better formulate their ideas.
Real-time oral communication has drawbacks. In normal, conversational dialog, most of us know the direction we want to take our argument, but it’s difficult to think about what you’re going to say until a few moments before you say it. This leads to filler words (like um and uh), excess rambling, and lack of clarity in speech.
If you’ve ever wanted to scream at someone get to the damn point already, you know this pain.
Text is the opposite.
Read the rest of his case here.
Being selfish doesn’t always result in an obvious display of self-interest. More often, selfishness can come across in subtle ways that sabotage our relationships with others. Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits offers some examples:
- When someone doesn’t clean up after themselves, you get irritated because you think you’re entitled to everyone acting the way you want them to act (being clean and considerate).
- When someone else needs help, you think first about how it will affect you, rather than how it will affect the other person.
- When something unexpected happens at work or in your personal life, you think first about how it will affect you.
- When people are talking, you think about how what they’re saying relates to you, how you’ve had a similar experience, what they’re thinking of you.
Read the rest of his post here.
Ever feel totally out of your depth? Like you’re due to be discovered for the “fraud” that you are? This is “impostor syndrome” — where we constantly feel like everyone around us has their act together and we don’t. The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman:
Achieve promotions, or win accolades, and you’ll just have more cause to feel like a fake. Enhance your knowledge, and as you expand the perimeter of what you know, you’ll be exposed to more and more of what you don’t. Impostorism, as Pacific Standard magazine put it recently, “is, for many people, a natural symptom of gaining expertise”. Move up the ranks and if your field’s even vaguely meritocratic, you’ll encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against. It never stops. “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find [me] out now,’” as some low-profile underachiever named Maya Angelou once said.
The solution, says Burkeman, is that our higher-ups should talk about their insecurities more. Admittedly, that’s a hard ask, so in the mean time just remember that everyone feels like an impostor, it’s not just you.
Read the rest of his essay here.
It’s an old businessperson’s axiom: you have to spend money to make money. But what happens when you have no money? Many aspects of the world cruelly require the very thing we need more of. The more people you know, the easier it will be to make friends. If you have chickens you can get eggs. If you have eggs you can yield more chickens. Facebook’s Julie Zhuo on how to break this vicious cycle:
One great line from Gagan Biyani’s talk last week has stayed with me: faking the chicken. It means doing whatever it takes to get the chicken in place so that you can start reaping the benefit of eggs.
Or, if you’re lacking confidence, fake it until you make it. Act as if you have conviction in what you’re saying even if the entire neighborhood’s butterfly population has taken up residence in your stomach.
Or, if something seems out of your capabilities, surround yourself with people that have done it before. Take inspiration from those who make it look possible, and maybe even easy. Trick yourself into thinking you already have the chicken.
At the end of the day, that’s life—the constant wrestling with and pushing of the self. The cycle of striving for better and better cycles, so that we can achieve something of meaning in an unfair world.
Read her entire essay here.