Link: Re-Hermit

“I can run a lot of windows on my screen, but eventually the screen fills up and I’m doing more clicking than viewing just to see everything that’s going on in my head. Which means that less is going on in my head because I’m doing more clicking than looking. Something like that.”
Original source: Re-Hermit

Link: Keep a common place book

“Wisdom, not facts. We’re not just looking random pieces of information. What’s the point of that? Your commonplace book, over a lifetime (or even just several years), can accumulate a mass of true wisdom–that you can turn to in times of crisis, opportunity, depression or job.”
Original source: Keep a common place book

When bored, work on something else

I don’t stare at blank sheets of paper. I don’t spend days and nights cudgeling a head that is empty of ideas. Instead, I simply leave the novel and go on to any of the dozen other projects that are on tap. I write an editorial, or an essay, or a short story, or work on one of my nonfiction books. By the time I’ve grown tired of these things, my mind has been able to do its proper work and fill up again. I return to my novel and find myself able to write easily once more. Isaac Asimov

This reminds of a Nassim Taleb idea on book reading: always be reading many, many books. If you get bored with one, just move to the other, and keep rotating.

Get more work done hiding

Find a place to hide. Book a conference room for an hour and get the real work done where no one can interrupt you.

Sound like a joke? It’s not. Professor Sune Carlsson did a study of how CEO’s get things done. What did the research show? None of them could work longer than 20 minutes without an interruption.

So how did they accomplish things without distraction? They worked for 90 minutes at home before coming into the office.

Source: This Is How To Be Productive: 5 New Secrets Proven By Research

Link: Hacking Your To Do List with Your Calendar

Explained like this, this makes a lot a sense:

“When accepting a task, this philosophy proposes immediately allocating time in the calendar to accomplish it. Consider the due date, the time required, and the relative importance. Then book the slot…. This extra step reinforces the rigid time constraint immediately, not later when I’m staring at a lengthy to-do list and wondering where to begin. Each yes to a commitment is an implicit no to another. The calendar visualizes the tradeoff of each potential yes, making explicit the commitment to a task.”

Source: Hacking Your To Do List with Your Calendar

The phone sucks

But despite 53% of those polled in the Sennheister study saying they wished everyone picked up the phone more rather than clogging up inboxes with wasted emails, many are reluctant to go retro and pick up the phone- 67% of workers said they send more emails than they make phone calls because it’s easier, and one in five confessed they were not confident about speaking on the phone. So are there better ways of keeping everyone in the loop about mundane things such as fire drills, whip rounds, new starters and lottery syndicates?

I always feel like people just need to learn how to communicate in the written word better. Often, there’s no conventions explicitly stated about how to use email. I don’t think I’ve ever started a job that had “here’s how we use email around here” training. If you have no shared process – and training to get everyone using the process – of course it sucks, no matter what “it” is.

The phone sucks

I think where people tend to end up results from a combination of encouragement, accident, and lucky break, etc. etc. Like many others, my career happened like it did because certain doors opened and certain doors closed. You know, at a certain point I thought it would be great to make film documentaries. Well, in fact, I found that to be incredibly hard and very expensive to do and I didn’t really have the courage to keep battling away at that. In another age, I might have been an academic in a university, if the university system had been different. So it’s all about trying to find the best fit between your talents and what the world can offer at that point in time.

Alain de Botton. Thanks to Thomas Otter for recommending I check out this dude.

Coté Memo #031: Avoiding Showing Up, Yet Another Private Equity in Tech Story, Cyborgs, and more #VMworld

Title: Coté Memo #031: Avoiding Showing Up, Yet Another Private Equity in Tech Story, Cyborgs, and more #VMworld

Meta-data

Hello again, welcome to #31. Today we have 39 subscribers, so we’re +1. I’d love to hear what you like, dislike, your feedback, etc.: memo@cote.io. (If you’re reading this on the web, you should subscribe to get the daily email.)

See past newsletters in the archives, and, as always, see things as they come at Cote.io and @cote.

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Tech & Work World

Quick Hits

It’s a real project if…, or, avoiding showing up to save time

I liked the quick summary of determining if something is a real project or not on this week’s Back to Work. I spend much of time sorting out if I should get involved in a project or not, both internal to 451 and externally. In analyst life, there’s lots of people looking for open-ended projects with no budget, and those become time-sucks that marks like me end-up carrying the water for.

I spend a lot of time observing behavior of other people in the companies I work for, mostly the people who are considered “successful.” What I’ve noticed is that those successful people don’t do much, in a good way. They’re highly selective of the projects they get involved with, and even the email threads they answer.

If you’re the kind of person who subscribes and actually reads this newsletter, you likely have the problem I have: you get bored easily and use work as a way to entertain yourself…instead of using work as a way to get paid. I’ve got to shift more and more of my efforts to that second part, because the first creates a stream of unfinished projects that go nowhere and becomes a terrible loop of boredom on its own.

451’s VMworld 2014 pieces are coming out

The names may have changed, which makes it quite difficult to track both historical usage and forward-looking plans, but at the end of the day marketing departments like to change names to protect the guilty. Whatever the products are called today, or may be called in the future, it is clear that the hypervisor-level technologies that are the basis of VMware’s current market dominance are commoditizing. This provides leverage but no guarantee of future market share for VMware in adjacent markets (management and cloud platforms), which have notable established incumbents and a set of engagement rules that are not necessarily aligned with VMware’s historical success factors.

Hey, don’t worry: that vRealize one is on the kitchen island ready to cook up.

Private Equity, which was the style of the time

All the sudden so many large tech companies are looking to go private. TIBCO did the obligatory hanging out a sign recently, it seems. Of course, I’m sure many are all like “TIBwho?” which is fine (and if you’re a TIBwhu? person, you’ll love this discussion of Compuware!). If you couple this trend with another macro-theory, that IT spending is slowing down, permanently, then you’ve got something slightly interesting. Tech becomes normal.

Fun & IRL

There’s only two days left to upload several years worth of photos to my newly TB’ed Dropbox account. Yup. Try not to do that.

You can tell it’s a real project if…

Eisenhower Matrix

As they cover in this week’s Back to Work, you can tell something is a real project in an organization (aka, “work”) if it has:

  1. A budget
  2. A deadline
  3. An owner

Otherwise, it’s just a “nice to have” and likely in the lower boxes of the Eisenhower time management matrix. I first came across that Eisenhower matrix in The Decision Book, which is sort of like a coffee table book for people who read too many business books.

(There’s a whole app for that matrix – I wonder if it’s good?)

Staying calm, apply with care

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go.

Just keep suckin’ on that chili dog.

Staying calm, apply with care

I’m okay but not great at managing my time. In addition to being an editor and writer on my radio show, I’m also the boss, and deal with budgets, personnel stuff, revenue and spending questions, and business decisions. My worst habit: when I should be writing something for this week’s show, I’ll procrastinate by looking over some contract or making some business phone call or doing something else that actually isn’t as important as writing. Which is to say: I procrastinate by working. I wonder if that’s common.

Ira Glass

At least us worker-cum-management types aren’t alone.

The interview also has a nice list of stuff he as This American Life us, including lots of Google Docs!

At 5am things are very quiet and serene. Nobody is on IM, no one is texting or emailing me. I find myself very focused. I am also aware of the cost of these two hours, which motivates me to be even more to focus and use them efficiently. So far, I have found I am very productive.