What Have I Done This Year?

Inching towards the new year means it’s time to reflect on what went well, and what could be improved—especially if you’re thinking about performance reviews. But December means we need to juggle that with immediately pressing projects that must be finished before the holidays. Once we enter tunnel-vision mode to complete those projects, it can be hard to disengage, look up, and think critically about what we’ve accomplished.

At I Done This, we’re all about celebrating small wins and learning from every step of the process. Here are some of our favorite tools that remind us of our professional growth, and prompt us to think about improvement next year.

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What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Productivity

Who are your productivity heroes? If Michael Jordan isn’t up there, he should be.

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Most people know Michael Jordan for his phenomenal scoring ability, superhuman dunks, or his starring role in Space Jam. Over a 20-year span, he scored more than 32,000 points, won six NBA titles and was named the league’s most valuable player five times. But to his teammates and coaches, he was notorious for his diligent work ethic.

Jordan’s longtime coach Phil Jackson once wrote that Michael “takes nothing about his game for granted.” He spent so much time preparing for competition that when it was game-time, he didn’t have to think about what to do next. He relied on instinct and muscle memory to dominate his opponents.

Professional athletes have to squeeze as much as they can out of their prime years, making them perfect productivity case studies. Here’s what some of our most famous athletes have to say about getting stuff done.

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The Science of Trust in the Workplace

A 2015 study at NYU Langone showed that when mice were given oxytocin—the hormone that enhances bonding—they started caring for other mices’ babies, as if they were their own. This behavior continued even after the mices’ oxytocin receptors were shut off.

trust in the workplace

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give some to your manager?

It turns out oxytocin can actually teach us a lot about working together as a team and building great work relationships leading to more trust in the workplace. Here’s how it works.

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I Done This: Short Post, Best Post?

The more you write on your “Done List,” the less likely your co-workers are to read what you write. 81% of educated people don’t even read what they see—they skim.

I Done This 2.0 automatically sets the default length of a Done List post at about 12 words. We’ll never limit the amount of words you post, but the default setting encourages you to fit your post on one line, like this:

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When Employees Feel Ignored at Work, Everyone Suffers

What exactly does ostracism at work look like?

On the exclusion spectrum you’ll find everything from accidentally leaving someone off a calendar invite to purposefully avoiding an individual in the lunch room. Feeling ignored at work is a silent but hurtful experience.

feeling ignored at workThe topic may seem trivial — “Are adults really so sensitive?” you might ask — but it’s one that can have a serious impact on your employees’ job satisfaction, performance and happiness. A 2014 study questioned if a lack of attention could be more painful for victims than bullying. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is often yes.

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How to Work Quietly

Here’s an excerpt from our fresh-of-the-presses eBook, What You Don’t Know About Management: How to Take Back Your Work Day. If you like what you read, download the 50+ page eBook for free!

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While teamwork is exciting and camaraderie a wonderful source of intrinsic motivation and purpose, getting stuff done also isn’t a matter of adding more people to the tasks at hand. In fact, collaboration can be too noisy.

What with all the open offices, unwelcome chit-chatters, dreadful meetings —not to mention the digital inundation of posts and pings of a never-ending stream of information — it can be near impossible to hear yourself think.

Ultimately, productivity requires producing, creativity creating — and while interaction is a key part of these processes, it isn’t everything. If you don’t actively think and process, if you don’t actually turn input and inspiration into something, if you don’t take time to reflect and analyze, then you’re shortchanging yourself.

It sounds so simple and obvious, but it’s easy to forget these days that we need solitude, quiet and time. 

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Writing is Power

Guy writing in notebook

We’re writing more than ever these days. Every day, you’re texting, emailing, and chatting. As many of us sit at our computers at work all day and our phones everywhere else in between, we’re writing.

Successful leaders believe writing is a crucial ingredient of great work. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for example, insists that writing replace other forms of communication to make the most of meetings. Instead of jumping straight into a conversation, or snoozing through bullet-pointed sentence fragments in a slideshow presentation, he requires his senior executives to write six-page narrative memos.

He explains in a 2012 interview with Charlie Rose, “When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.” In this age of knowledge work, we’re hiring people to think and communicate those thoughts — which means people who can write have a leg up.

Like most things worth doing, writing can be a chore. But the more fluent and practiced you become at the writing process, the more you’ll be able to own your success.

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How to Finally Make Peace With Your To-Do List


How to Make Peace With Your To-Do List

The person who’s going to complete all the tasks on your list is not you. It’s some superhuman version of you, who gets all the things done without breaking a sweat. Perhaps the biggest problem and allure of the to-do list is how aspirational it is.

In the early days of iDoneThis, there used to be a to-do task feature. While we decided to focus on helping people harness the benefits of keeping and sharing a done list, we gained some fascinating insight into what really happens when it comes to your to-do list along the way.

Two of the most interesting discoveries we made were how 41% of to-­do items were never finished, while a whopping 85% of dones were unplanned tasks that never started out as to-do’s.

There’s a huge gap between what we hope to get done and what we actually accomplish — and that might just be part of the human condition. The problem is when we let our to-do lists dishearten and demoralize us because we feel we’ve somehow failed. The way to conquer those negative feelings is to look backwards.

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How to Perform 20% Better By Doing Less Work

"We do not learn from experience ... we learn from reflecting on experience." —John Dewey

The power of self-reflection is simple but mighty. It’s how you recognize and celebrate progress, gain nourishing motivation, and detach from the workday. Successful people like David Heinemeier Hansson and Marc Andreessen use this tactic to keep their momentum going while managing the pressure of always having more work to do.

But like most activities that aren’t yet a daily habit, even taking out five to fifteen minutes a day just to think and write about your day feels like a drag. That’s because a deliberate practice of reflection, like regular exercise, isn’t always easy or fun. It requires energy, discipline, and some time. Philosopher and psychologist John Dewey explained in his 1910 book, How We Think, why the beneficial act of reflection can feel like, well, such a chore:

Reflective thinking is always more or less troublesome because it involves overcoming the inertia that inclines one to accept suggestions at their face value; it involves willingness to endure a condition of mental unrest and disturbance.

So self-reflection can be tough, but it produces more value than whatever you would’ve spent those minutes on anyway. When you’re constantly chasing that feeling of being productive by conquering more items on your to-do list or cranking out those extra emails, you’d be better off stopping your work to think a little.

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The Secret to Finding the Elusive Balance Between Busy and Happy

collage of balance

Let’s face it. We have a love-hate relationship with being busy. We want more free time but are quick to jam-pack our calendars and flaunt the bling of our busy status.

While busyness has become a badge of honor to be admired and applauded, at the heart of it, busyness seems a human way to assert that you exist, to prove you matter. I do, therefore I am — which can quickly morph into, I do more, therefore I am better.

University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson studies how people use their time for a living. He’s even called “Father Time” by his colleagues, and he discovered that the happiest people actually balance busy schedules by not feeling rushed. Only about a tenth of Americans attain this elusive balance, and that might be because we’re inclined to trick ourselves into enjoying busyness for more than it’s worth.

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