How to do everything and be happy: a recipe for efficiency from a successful immigrant - ForumDaily
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How to do everything and be happy: a recipe for effectiveness from a successful immigrant

Everyone has faced the problem of burnout at work or, conversely, did not know which way to approach this or that matter. Which efficiency rules should be followed, and which should be avoided? Tatyana Vorozhko shared her personal experience, opinion and recommendations in a blog for “VOA«.

Фото: Depositphotos

Next - from the first person.

Even by the standards of productivity-obsessed American society, I am a fairly productive and organized person. I am not late, I complete the work on time, I am able to mobilize and concentrate on the task, and when working on a large project, I break it down into steps and carry them out consistently. I also think, write, walk and talk quickly - in a word, many of the principles of “highly effective people” are developed at the instinctive level. However, I am absolutely sure that increasing human efficiency (efficiency factor) to infinity is not only impossible, but also harmful.

Each person has his own limit, and do not miss signals about his approach. My “bell” that it was time to slow down was the case when, when I saw a good friend, I changed the trajectory so as not to waste time talking.

Maternity, work and ... pills

I stopped subscribing to Working Mother magazine because their philosophy of endlessly increasing efficiency began to annoy me. Each issue contains the schedule of the day of the next successful woman, in which there is no time to relax, chat with friends and extremely little sleep. It also gives a lot of tips on how to keep up with everything, combining various things, for example, washing a toilet and bathing your baby at the same time, and at the end of the number you’ll get some calculations: this number saved you so many minutes.

Where's the rush?! What will you remember about life later, besides the checkboxes placed next to completed tasks? What about the childhood of your son or daughter, while feeding them you work on your tablet, and while bathing you wash the toilet? What does success consist of - to get everything done, redo a big pile of things or to live a happy life?

If you work not only a lot, but also quickly and efficiently, the more tired you get - the brain works more actively and spends more energy - you need more rest. But few people, liberated as a result of effective work, spend time on rest.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, in her book “Turn On!” writes that for long-term success in life and career, you must not be afraid to refuse when excessive demands are placed on you. She gives an example of how many people at McKinsey quit because they were “burned out” or sick due to excessive workload, and at the time of dismissal they found themselves with unused vacation days. Bosses will never stop demanding more and more from their subordinates - it is up to the subordinate to outline the boundaries of his capabilities, she argues.

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I noticed that sometimes women shift responsibility for their health to others. “If they mess with me, I’ll get sick, and let them be ashamed,” they think. No one will ever feel ashamed. At best, they will regret dismissing a productive employee; at worst, they will say that they didn’t “pull their weight.”

Some American women, in order to cope with all the tasks entrusted to them, resort to the services of what they call here, “mom’s little assistant” - pills. Psychiatrist Lawrence Hill in his book “The Last Normal Child” writes about an interesting pattern: among children, boys are more often diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and among adults, on the contrary, more often in women than in men. He explains this by the fact that society demands a lot from little boys and adult women. It is difficult for six-year-old boys to sit through an hour in class, and for 30-year-old women to raise children, work at work and at home.

“Ritalin” helps both of them, regardless of whether they really have attention deficit disorder, or they need a lot of this attention, Hill writes and says that women come to him who are trying to do the impossible - mothers of babies work and study. And they in no way connect their difficulties with concentration, sleep disturbances and sudden mood swings with this.

What is needed for success in creative work?

And in activities that require creative skills, the “work, work, work” approach is counterproductive. And the number of such professions in post-industrial society is growing - more and more routine work is being automated.

3M in cold Minnesota is unique. They produce tens of thousands of products, from touch screens to dishwashing sponges. These things have one thing in common - they were all invented by 3M, one of the world leaders in terms of innovation.

Jay Lerner in his book “Imagine: How the Imagination Works” gives an example of this company as a pioneer in using the latest knowledge in the study of brain function in labor organization. He points to two methods: the ability to think in the atmosphere without stress and communication.

In order to solve a complex problem, sometimes it is necessary to “let go”: relax and allow the brain to come to the right decision through a series of the most unexpected associations. Therefore, often inspiration comes when you walk or take a bath. One day, the ending of an article that I could not think of came up with a thought when a dentist was cleaning my dental canal.

On the subject: Morning rituals of successful people: 11 inspirational examples

The company, which is more than 100 years old, does not push its inventors with a long whip. During the day, they can go to the gym or take walks along the paths between the office rooms.

Workers are also required to communicate with colleagues. After all, the inventor of a new glue may suggest an interesting idea to the creator of a new type of plastic. For the same reason—for workers to communicate and bounce ideas off each other—the late Steve Jobs, when designing the Pixar studio space, insisted that all restrooms be located in the ground-floor lobby, next to the café. He believed that casual, short conversations were more useful than specially called meetings and brainstorming sessions.

At the same time, a person who is engaged in mental work must be able to concentrate on a task for a while, enter the so-called “flow” - a mental state when a person is completely involved in what he is doing.

Historically, only men had the opportunity to think and devote attention to mental work or creativity. Even if a woman managed to enter the creative profession, which was considered masculine, her time and attention did not belong to her. They worked in fits and starts or at night.

The letters and biography of the author of many books, most famously Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriett Beecher Stowe, describe her relentless struggle to find time to write. “It is nothing more than an iron will that allows me to ever write; it’s like rowing against the wind and waves,” her biographer quotes.

Even now, as a study by the American University in Washington shows, women’s scientists at US universities have more organizational and mentoring responsibilities than men, leaving them less time to write articles and research.

Also, each person has a “productivity window” - a time when he works best and when it is easier for him to enter a state of flow. For me, it's in the morning—between 9 and 11—when I write my best articles, blogs, and scripts. At productivity trainings, they advise devoting this time exclusively to creative work, postponing organizational and administrative matters for later, which, unfortunately, cannot always be done.

Another good way to stimulate your creative imagination is to take a walk. After all, humanity spent 97% of its existence as a species solving the most difficult problems on the move - running away from a saber-toothed tiger, chasing a mammoth, or looking for a new place to sleep. Therefore, workers who drive everywhere and eat lunch at their desks are not using their full creative potential.

Often I practice the so-called “walking meetings” when I discuss problems, ideas and projects with colleagues during a short walk along the corridor or around the house. And calories are burned, and it seems better, and we do not interfere with other colleagues in the open-plan office.

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In creative work, I believe, there is no point in demonizing mistakes. Of course, in our case, the journalist must check the information and there must be a clear and working system for checking each other, but the fear of making mistakes created by management blocks initiative, imagination and forces employees to take on simple tasks exclusively. In addition, you learn from mistakes and sometimes they become a source of discoveries. If Alexander Flemming had always carefully washed his Petri dishes, he would never have invented penicillin!

Obviously, in this blog I do not advocate idleness and sloppiness. I myself often wonder why a person cannot cope with the task, he simply won’t take it and will not. In this case, only a clear statement of the problem works with the specific time by which it must be done, and the consequences if this does not happen.

But when we ourselves are or manage highly motivated and productive creative workers, it doesn’t hurt to consider both the latest scientific developments and the experience of leading companies. And they all indicate that labor camp methods or assembly line production have no place in the modern office.

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