Are You Checking Your Attention’s Blind Spots?

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Ever get so caught up in a task that you don’t notice something in plain sight? There’s actually a term for that — inattentional blindness — a state of unseeing created by where you’re focusing your attention.

A famous example of inattentional blindness is the invisible gorilla study. Before participants watch a video of two teams of three people passing a basketball, they are told to carefully count the number of passes made by the team dressed in white (the other is dressed in black). Halfway through the video, a woman in a gorilla suit walks through to the middle of the screen, beats her chest, and then walks offscreen.

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Toot Your Own Horn or Get Left Behind

Women face tough challenges in accessing leadership opportunities. Just look at the numbers. While women make up 51.4% of middle managers, they account for a mere 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

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During law school, I participated in a clinical program where students work in the field while receiving practical training and guidance. While discussing a self-evaluation written after a client interview exercise, I noted that I’d been pretty hard on myself, commenting lightly, “Well, who thinks they do everything great?”

“Plenty of people do,” my supervising professor replied. “And they’ll say so, even when they’re not.”

While the extremes of egotism can be awfully distasteful, there is something to tooting your own horn. Among the complex reasons for the promotion paradox that women face, including harmful gender stereotypes and perceptions, is a lack of confidence in communicating achievements, in saying so even when they actually are awesome at what they do.

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Avoiding the Vanity Work Trap

If you’re in the business of dealing with web and social media metrics or are familiar with entrepreneur and The Lean Startup author Eric Ries, you probably know about vanity metrics. Basically, these are numbers that sound impressive but don’t necessarily mean anything of significance because they’re not actionable by themselves. In other words, vanity metrics are “good for feeling awesome, bad for action.”

Many of us fall into an analogous vanity work trap. We do things that sound impressive or important, making us feel productive but essentially don’t propel us to any new heights. Maybe it’s that umpteenth networking event or coffee meeting, or obsessing over social media followers or responding to emails during vacation, or even dutifully doing all the things we think we’re supposed to do. The vanity trap sucks us in using other people’s ideas of success.

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How to Master the Art of To-Do Lists by Understanding Why They Fail

I don’t like to-do lists but found it odd that I still continue to use them. Is my list-making just a futile exercise or productivity-flavored self-torture?

The to-do list is an inescapable, age-old productivity tool. It is our very human attempt to create order in our disorderly lives and an expression of our ability to impose self-control. Most of us, including to-do list haters, keep one, and so do  63% of professionals, according to a survey released by LinkedIn in May 2012.

Yet to-do lists seem particularly difficult to tame.

At iDoneThis, we used to have a to-do task feature, and we discovered some interesting numbers demonstrating the common struggle to conquer our to-do lists:

  • 41% of to­-do items were never completed.
  • 50% of completed to-­do items are done within a day.
  • 18% of completed to­-do items are done within an hour.
  • 10% of completed to­-do items are done within a minute.
  • 15% of dones started as to-do items.

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Getting in the Writing Place Every Day

By now, participants of NaNoWriMo are more than halfway through writing 50,000 words. That’s about 1,667 words a day. Not necessarily that many good words. But the point of it is to get you to start, so that by the end of November, there’s a novel. A whole novel!

I’ve never been able to do NaNoWriMo. The thought of all those words the first day — 1,667 probably pretty stinky words — is enough to make me run to the sofa and turn on the TV instead. I know I’m good at that.

The Starting Challenge

The blank page of any project — writing, exercising, making, learning, doing — is paralyzing. It’s the weight of great expectations and unmet aspiration. It’s the fear of finding out that you’re no good, of failing, of looking stupid. It’s laziness. It’s the specter of busyness that looms over your shoulder saying you don’t have the time and energy for this, to do it “right” — and you listen.

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Happiness at Work: A Photo Safari of Culture at 10 Awesome Startups

Many of the startup companies we work with have built incredible cultures and teams.  Cultures that are quirky, fun-loving, hardworking, energetic and adventurous.  Teams that are tight-knit, creative, dedicated and happy.  While there are a thousand words we could use to describe the characteristics of each company’s culture, we all know what a picture is worth.

Photographs can tell you more about a company’s culture and their team experience than any lengthy blog post we could ever write.  So we decided to ask some of the innovative startups we work with:

Send us a photo that best represents your company culture, and tell us why. 

We share their awesome responses below so you can get a glimpse of the inner lives of ten iDoneThis musers companies.

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Collaboration is Noisy

When did work become so noisy?

I don’t just mean the ambient noise, that clickity-clackity typing, strangely noticeable chewing, annoying finger tapping, and chit-chatting hubbub of an open floor plan office. I’m also talking about the information and social inundation invading our work life, the buzzes and pings, the tweets and likes, the emails and comments, the meetings and chats.

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Our notion of productivity has become imbalanced toward focusing on the inbox of our thought process — input, information, inspiration. I can feel productive after scanning tweets, reading articles, even having an inspiring conversation, but if I don’t take time to think and process, if I don’t actually turn the input into something, that feeling is illusory.

Ultimately, productivity requires producing, creativity creating. It sounds so simple and obvious, but it has been easy to forget these days that we need solitude, quiet and time.

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The Ultimate Productivity Instrument is You

In this modern age of gizmos and gadgets, the best productivity app is you.

Benjamin Franklin, that historical grand master of productivity who did pretty well without an iPhone, knows why:

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Our capabilities for self-analysis, awareness, and perception are what separate us from robotic worker drones, punching in and punching out without rhyme or reason. But our limited notion of productivity ignores those capabilities, focusing simplistically on output and end results, on just doing it and getting it done. We know the destinations in our work are important, but all too often, we ignore the journey and the process. We ignore ourselves.

Passing time

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