This infographic is from a short article called How Your Device Is Controlling You. If you can identify with the stats in the infographic, you’ll find the article has some useful tips about how to make sure you’re in charge of your devices, and not reflexively giving them your attention. From the article: “Your device isn’t evil unto itself, of course. But the more you can become aware of your own habits and the effect your screen time is having on you, the more in control of your attention you can be.”
This week there was a thought-provoking Atlanticarticle by Linda Stone. She suggests that output is applicable for measuring the productivity of machines, but a more appropriate metric for human productivity is engagement. Here’s a brief excerpt, but the article is not long and is well worth a couple of minutes of your reading time.
Machines Can’t Flow: The Difference Between Mechanical and Human Productivity
More output, produced faster may be great metrics for machines, but for homo sapiens, the most powerful metric is engagement.
At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, it seemed machines could do anything. At that time, productivity experts predicted that machines and new technologies would mean we’d only have to work four hours a day. But, as we all know, that’s not what has happened. Instead, the definition of human productivity merged with the definition of machine productivity: more work, faster pace, more efficiently.
What if we rethink productivity? Today, we define productivity for humans the same way we do for machines. What if we create metrics around engagement, for schools, for the workplace, and for our lives? Instead of evaluating output, we could evaluate process, outcomes, and quality.
You already know that your email can be a source of stress. And if you’ve installed GTD in your workflow to even a small extent, you’ve found that you can reduce the stress of email by simply going through GTD’s Process and Organize phases. A recent article in The Telegraph quotes new research that “filing emails into folders also lowered levels of stress and prompted a sense of well-being because it helped people feel in control.”
That’s good, because “the study also found that people were unable to identify accurately when their body was showing signs of stress and often were unaware of their state.”
What are your signs that stress is building up?
Email ‘raises stress levels’
Email is supposed to make modern life easier, but it is making workers more stressed than ever as they struggle to stay on top of hundreds of messages per day, according to researchers.
By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent
7:00AM BST 04 Jun 2013
Reading and sending emails prompts telltale signs of stress including elevated blood pressure, heart rate and levels of the hormone cortisol, a study found.
Researchers who followed a group of 30 government employees found that 83 per cent became more stressed while using email, rising to 92 per cent when speaking on the phone and using email at the same time.
Although receiving a single message was no more stressful than answering one phone call or talking to someone face-to-face, emails had a stronger effect overall because people received so many each day.
Researchers believe that emails can add to stress levels. Photo: ALAMY
In my experience, the greatest successes don’t come from grandiose scenarios of good intentions engendered by temporarily pumped-up motivation. Rather, the most lasting and significant positive effects result from small things, done consistently, in strategic places.
—David Allen, “Win the self-help game,” in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Tony Schwartz has some excellent advice about the value of relaxation for increasing productivity. Here’s an excerpt from his recent New York Times opinion piece.
Relax! You’ll Be More Productive
By TONY SCHWARTZ
Published: February 9, 2013
THINK for a moment about your typical workday. Do you wake up tired? Check your e-mail before you get out of bed? Skip breakfast or grab something on the run that’s not particularly nutritious? Rarely get away from your desk for lunch? Run from meeting to meeting with no time in between? Find it nearly impossible to keep up with the volume of e-mail you receive? Leave work later than you’d like, and still feel compelled to check e-mail in the evenings?
More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. 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.
Forbes has picked up Senior GTD Coach and Presenter Kelly Forrister’s article on how to tackle a crazy to-do list, originally posted on The Daily Muse.
Crazy To-Do List? Here’s What to Tackle First
Many people try to tackle their mountain of personal tasks by sorting them by priority, and starting at the top. Seems logical—but they’ve actually got it backward. In reality, before you think about priorities, there are three factors you need to consider, because they each actually limit your choices about what you should (and even can) do next.
Limitation #1: Context
If you’re not in the right place, don’t have the right tool, or are not in front of the right person required to take an action, you can’t take that action.
Limitation #2: Time Available
The second factor that comes into play is how much time you have. If you’ve got a big project to work on, but you need to bounce to your next meeting or pick up your kids in 10 minutes, it’s probably not a good use of your effort to start it.
Limitation #3: Resources
The third factor to consider is what your energy is like. I don’t know about you, but Friday afternoon after a long, busy workweek is not the time to dive into anything that will take a lot of mental bandwidth. Instead, I make choices that match what my mental and physical energy is like. Not to say there aren’t times I need to just “buck up” and get in there anyway, but I like to be conscious about what I’m choosing and match that to when I think I’ll bring my best self, whenever I can.
CBS Moneywatch asked David Allen about New Year’s resolutions. His advice? Nix ‘em!
3 reasons to nix those New Year’s resolutions
January 1 always offers a tantalizing gift: the chance to start over again. We think that the right resolutions will make us more productive, healthy and successful. But productivity guru David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” (and the creator of the widely-adopted GTD system) says that he doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions. Here’s why—and why you should reconsider the practice, too:
1. Review your life more frequently. Allen and GTD enthusiasts schedule regular reviews (usually weekly) to study any open loops and look at where things are going.
2. Focus on the positive. “People don’t pat themselves on the back like they ought to do,” says Allen. Instead of New Year’s resolutions—which focus on what you haven’t managed to do in your life—he recommends trying New Year’s “recollections.” Allen and his wife sit down and reminisce about, “basically, what did we accomplish, what did we experience that was cool and interesting?”
3. Finish old business—and gain inspiration. “People would be much farther ahead just cleaning up at the end of the year, as opposed to moving things forward,” says Allen. “If you try to set goals—to recalibrate or refocus—and you’ve got old business hanging around your neck like an albatross, good luck,” says Allen. After all, most New Year’s resolutions fail. But tackling a few things on your to-do list? That you can do, and success breeds success.
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Productivity Expert and Author of Getting Things Done, David Allen Goes Global with SMCOV
David Allen, the pioneer of the modern productivity movement and the author of the seminal business book Getting Things Done, announced today a partnership with SMCOV that will help the David Allen Company bring his productivity coaching to an international audience. Founded by co-CEO’s Stephan Mardyks and David Covey, SMCOV is a leader in global training distribution.
Through the partnership, SMCOV will distribute Allen’s world-class Intellectual Property (IP) based on his international bestseller, Getting Things Done, to the global business community. GTD® is the product of 30 years of studying productivity, and training millions of people to achieve greater performance in their daily lives. Allen’s philosophies, which have been wildly popular among the business and technology industries in the U.S., give people the tools to help alleviate the feeling of overwhelm, instilling focus and clarity while providing for a system of stress-free productivity.