Email is the TV of work

Watch emailIt can feel good to flop in front of the TV at the end of a busy day. With a simple click you are transported and entertained. You can switch off your brain. The same is true at work. It feels good to flop in front of your screen and with a click disappear into your messages. As you plug into your inbox, you can switch off and pass the time away. All your replies, CCs and emoticons are a welcome distraction from real thinking. Email isn’t work; it’s light entertainment. Continue reading…

Creating moments with your children

How often do you say ‘Just a minute’ to your children?  My wife and I found ourselves saying it a lot, as we prioritized our terribly important busyness over our children. More often than not, by the time we were ready, the child had disappeared, or moved on and the moment was lost. A little while ago, I came down from the office and my 5 year old daughter asked me to dance.  I was, of course, busy. This time I resisted saying ‘Just a minute’ and said ‘Okay’.  We danced, and laughed for about 30 seconds.  Then, completely satisfied, she skipped off onto something else. Continue reading…

Sloppiness is a gender issue

shutterstock_107137112 - CopyI work with a leader who is sloppy: a bit disorganized, he forgets things and at times drops the ball. He is also extremely successful and admired. The thing is, his sloppiness is interpreted (accurately) as big thinking and creativity. It occurs to me that I don’t know any women in senior positions who are also sloppy and successful; that bothers me. Continue reading…

Strategic Idleness

shutterstock_134514503 - CopyIn a recent survey in the US, 83% of people said they had no time for ‘relaxation or thinking’ at all. In a knowledge economy, what hope can we have as individuals or as corporations if we’re not thinking. More specifically, there’s a type of thinking that is more under threat than any other kind: the thinking that happens when we’re relaxed or idle. Martin Heidegger made the distinction between calculative and meditative thinking. Calculative thinking is focused, activity-driven and outcome-oriented; meditative thinking is more relaxed, internal and expansive. When we’re busy, we employ calculative thinking. When we’re consuming reality TV or YouTube videos of dancing cats, we’re not really thinking at all. Meditative thinking only happens when we are neither producing nor consuming; in other words, when we are idle. My concern is that the twin drives to produce and consume are squeezing idleness out of our lives; and idleness is important because it is the origin of meditative thinking.

Continue reading…

Embarrassed about being busy

Embarrassed‘How are you?’

The chances are high that your response would be ‘busy’. Most of us today lead hectic lives, crunching through emails, racing between meetings and juggling competing demands. Overwhelmed by it all, our busyness can come to dominate our work, lives and relationships. Continue reading…

The Busyness Law

collapse - Copy1

If you saw a man collapse in front of you, in a clearly distressed state and needing help, would you stop and help? The answer is that it depends. In a famous experiment, social psychologists John Darley and Daniel Batson ran an experiment with people who might be expected to help: trainee priests. Just before leaving for the lecture, some trainee priests were told they were late, others had plenty of time. The effects were dramatic. Only 10% of those trainee priests who were late stopped to help the collapsed man (who they had no way of knowing was an actor). Of those with more time, 63% stopped!

Continue reading…