How To Work With A Motormouth

You walk into your office on a Monday morning and are instantly overwhelmed with the amount of work you have that week.

Just as you’ve figured out how to cram all your meetings and projects into your schedule, you look up from your desk and are instantly full of dread. Your chatty coworker is headed right toward you and has chosen you as his next victim. Well, there goes the better part of the morning.

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Of course, having a great social relationship can boost company culture. Once in a while, some water cooler talk can be a nice break from your hard work, but some people take this way too far. Some will come by your desk every few hours, and even remote workers might incessantly ping you on Slack. According to a survey conducted by talent mobility company Lee Hecht Harrison, talkative coworkers are the #1 disruption at work.

Here are the different kinds of chatty coworkers, and how to keep them from disrupting your day.

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14 Learning Apps That Keep Your Mind Sharp

Studies have shown that the average person only retains about 10% of what they read. In the Information Age, we have so many resources at our fingertips that our brain doesn’t get the practice it needs to stay sharp and retain information.

A few years ago, UCLA Professor of Psychiatry Gary Small found that spending a lot of time online actually rewires our brain. Because of all the skimming that we are forced to do, we replace deep, careful learning with hurried, shallow thinking.

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But all hope isn’t lost. Instead of using technology as a crutch to free us of having to do calculations or remember information, we can use it to improve our thinking and our capacity for learning. There are tons of activities and exercise that can be found in mobile apps that actually improve our cognitive functions.

Here are some iOS and Android learning apps that will get those brain muscles flexing.

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Why You Should Stop Copying Google’s Employee Perks

Not only is Google rated the #1 place to work year after year, but it’s one of most valuable companies on earth. And that’s by no coincidence. To get there, Google spent years perfecting their employee perks to create a positive and highly-productive environment.

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Google Campus Dublin – Gasworks – Microkitchen – Floor Identity: Waterworld – Foto Peter Wurmli – © Camenzind Evolution

But Google has only been able to grow into a $360 billion company by trying bold new things and constantly iterating their systems—not by blindly applying the successful models of other companies.

To succeed as a startup, you also have to be careful not to just adopt trendy fads, but rather find what works best for you through constant iteration. In fact, there are tons of companies that do the opposite of what Google does and thrive as a result.

Here are some examples of super successful startups that refrained from Googlifying their environment.

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Why Your Goals Aren’t Making You More Productive

Google didn’t become one of the most valuable brands in the world by accident. It’s been rated the #1 place to work by Fortune for seven of the last 10 years, and called “employee heaven” by leadership advocate Will Marré.

The secret to their employee engagement is a little trick they picked up from Intel: the OKR system. OKR stands for objective and key results. The premise of OKR goals is that every employee, from entry-level to CEO, is working towards a single objective that aligns with the general mission of the company. Each objective has key results which serve as measuring sticks for the success of that objective.

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Now used by tons of tech companies, the OKR system has become hugely popular in the tech community. But misuse of OKR goals can not only prove ineffective—it can prove fatal to your organization. Here are four disastrous goal-setting mistakes that startups make.

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Museum Hack’s Productivity Case Study

We developed IDoneThis to help teams become more productive, and to eliminate the need for time-consuming meetings. But some of our customers have found more creative ways to use us than we even imagined! Here’s how one of our clients, Museum Hack, uses IDoneThis to stay on task.

CEO Nick Gray used to hate museums. But just one incredible museum experience, totally turned him. Before he knew it, he was a museum junkie spewing fun facts about ancient artifacts to all his friends.

He had such a knack for bringing the art to life that the popularity of his unofficial tours took off and became the impetus for his unique startup: interactive museum tours.

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When Nick founded his museums-made-easy company, productivity tools were the last thing on his mind. But three years later, as Museum Hack had grown multi-fold, and its guides began to work in locations across three major cities, they were in serious need of a catch-all productivity tool that would keep them connected and on schedule. They found just that in IDoneThis.

We spoke with Michael, the Head of Marketing of Museum Hack, to get an idea of the problems they faced as they expanded, and how they used IDoneThis features to address them.

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Trust, But Verify: The Key Management Tool To Build Team Satisfaction

Delegation is one of the hardest management tools for leaders to learn.

We all understand that micromanaging your employees isn’t good for anyone, but when you’re used to being involved in everything, it can be hard to let go. It gets easier as you hire great people and implement sound processes—watching your company grow without your fingerprint on everything is a beautiful thing.

Perspective helps too.

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The Father of Personal Productivity Joins the I Done This Team

I Done This is pleased to announce our newest addition to the team: Ben Franklin, or, as we call him, Benji. He will be assuming the role of in-house personal productivity expert and is super excited to be sharing his insights.

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I have been invited to join I Done This as the in-house personal productivity expert for a pretty obvious reason: I’m really great at getting things done.

My main accomplishments have been in the fields of technology and innovation, although when I dabbled in politics I did help draft the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, earning me that “founding father” title. I also have 9 honorary degrees and have held 16 public offices. In case you’ve never seen one, my face has also been put on the hundred dollar bill.

What can I say— personal productivity just comes easy to me. But it wasn’t always that way. I’ve spent years developing the best method for personal productivity. And I’m about to let you in on my secret.

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Daria the Developer Hates Daily Standup

This week’s post is a guest article by Dillon Forrest, Product Manager & Growth Hacker

Daria the Developer shows up to work at 8:55am, a bit early for her daily standup at 9am. Most of her coworkers roll into the office in the next few minutes. Nobody’s gotten their coffee yet.

At 9am on the dot, the project manager power walks through Daria’s section of the bullpen and says, “Standup time, good morning everybody, let’s go everybody, come on everybody, standup time, let’s go! Starting at 9am sharp!”

There are 12 people on the calendar invite for this team: 5 developers, 1 designer, 1 product manager, 2 QA managers, 1 project manager, the VP of Engineering, and the CTO.

The VP Eng and CTO aren’t present, but that’s normal. They never show up for daily standup. They haven’t attended a daily standup since Daria joined the company. They are both adamant about everybody showing up at 9am sharp for standup, but they themselves might roll into the office around 10:30.

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Two developers and a QA manager are late. The seven present team members stand in a circle in the center of the bullpen, and the project manager insists on starting the daily standup without the absent coworkers. The project manager is quite impressive at following orders from the higher-ups when it comes to starting meetings on time.

The two tardy developers roll into the office at 9:05am, and sadly they’ve missed the daily update from three people already. Tardy Developer #1 hasn’t taken off his jacket or bag yet, but the project manager jumps at the chance to suggest that Tardy Developer #1 give his update.

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The Ultimate Guide to Remote Standups

Remote work is growing fast in the United States.

Since 2005, the number of people working from home at least half the time has more than doubled according to Global Workplace Analytics. Even more interesting, as many as 90% of workers in the US would prefer to work from home a few days each week.

Work as we know it is changing.

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And while most would agree that the trend is positive, there are plenty of growing pains associated with remote work, namely meetings. As offices change, communication is changing too.

For better or worse, meetings are a staple of nine to five life. But the traditional model doesn’t translate well in remote settings, where people are spread across time zones, coffee shops and coworking spaces. Asynchronous communication is key to making a distributed team work. It’s time to rethink the way me meet.

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Google’s Unwritten Rule for Team Collaboration

This week’s article is a guest post by Paul Berkovic. Paul is Co-founder and CMO at ScribblePost (productivity software for capturing and sharing task and project information with anyone, anywhere).

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We do a lot of collaborating these days. But despite the number of open offices, designated “thinking” areas, and our managerial focus on small teams, we still haven’t mastered collaborative work.

In fact, we’re really bad at it.

The point of collaborating is to get everyone in a group involved and exercising their strengths. But according to the Harvard Business Review, “In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees.” In most collaborative teams, the bulk of the work still comes from a minority of participants.

In response to this imbalance in their own organization, Google launched Project Aristotle, an internal research project studying Google teams to discover why some were superior collaborators.

Google has a known penchant for quantifying everything. Project Aristotle expected to find something quantifiable, like the optimal team size or the most productive structure for group meetings. But Project Aristotle hit the ultimate irony: the key to collaboration is not a quantifiable. In fact, it wasn’t even codified. The best teams don’t have a measurable, highly visible solution to collaboration—they have an unwritten social code.

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