A World Without Work

We all have those days – days when we dread going into work. But what would happen if work actually went away? That’s the topic of a recent article from the Atlantic: A World Without Work.

It’s a bit of a fear-mongering piece mixed with some thoughtful commentary on technological progress:

What does the “end of work” mean, exactly? It does not mean the imminence of total unemployment, nor is the United States remotely likely to face, say, 30 or 50 percent unemployment within the next decade. Rather, technology could exert a slow but continual downward pressure on the value and availability of work—that is, on wages and on the share of prime-age workers with full-time jobs. Eventually, by degrees, that could create a new normal, where the expectation that work will be a central feature of adult life dissipates for a significant portion of society.

Continue reading

Daily Rituals

I struggle with schedules. It feels good to plan a daily schedule, but for me, it quickly falls apart in reality. I start to resent the structure after a while, and feel hostage to it. I don’t want to get up precisely at the same time everyday! What if I need a nap? What if I want to go for a long walk because it’s sunny today?

Continue reading

Slack’s incredible growth

I love Slack, especially how they paid attention to UX details that make this workplace app so fun to use. I’m also impressed by their incredibly fast growth, which is explained well in this recent article: From 0 to $1B – Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy.

So how did the company not only launch with enviable momentum, but so quickly win users’ hearts? If there’s one theme that emerges when founder Stewart Butterfield talks about Slack’s success, it’s that the company made customer feedback the epicenter of its efforts.

It’s a good reminder to pay attention to user feedback, especially from the beginning:

As much information as Slack put out to customers, they learned even more themselves. Butterfield and his cofounders are voracious readers of user feedback, and they attribute much of the company’s rapid traction to this skill. From the get-go, Slack made sure that users could respond to every email they received, and approached every help ticket as an opportunity to solidify loyalty and improve the service. As they listened to their ever-growing flock of users, the Slack team iterated accordingly.

Get ‘er done

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of an efficiency and productivity nerd. I’m always on the look out for methodologies or tools to help me remember stuff and get things done. I’ve tried quite a few – everything from Getting Things Done to Evernote to TiddlyWiki to Outlook Tasks, but nothing has stuck so far.

However, recently I stumbled across a philosophy and system that finally makes sense to me: The Action Method from Behance (also described in the book Making Ideas Happen).

Continue reading

Controlling Chaos

The past few months have been a time of immense change in my life, with many new responsibilities and projects that I’m taking on both personally and professionally. I like to live my life in sort of ‘controlled-chaos’ mode as I’m not the type of person to plan out every moment of every day. However, things have become a little scattered, and I need to figure out a way to get some things under control.

Usually when I have a dilemma, I turn to people around me and books. One book I picked up is Getting Things Done by David Allen. This is a book that has sat on my shelf for years, but I have found it too prescriptive and overwhelming in the past. I don’t subscribe to systems very easily unless they are:

  • easy to start
  • I see immediate results
  • I can see myself realistically doing this for 30 days straight (Apparently, if you can do something for 30 days in a row it’s officially a habit.)

Getting Things Done has a very systematic approach for dealing with all the inputs in your life such as emails, requests, even take-out menus – but it was a bit of overkill for me. However one thing I took away from the book is to break everything down into Next Actions. In other words, think about the work you have to do BEFORE you actually do it. It really does help! It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes as well: “Don’t just do something, sit there

I think I used Next Actions intuitively whenever I felt overwhelmed, or there was too much stuff swirling around in my brain, but now I’m trying to do it all the time, for every little thing. Anytime I have a thought like – ‘ya, I really should organize my photos’ I write down what my actual next step is going to be  – i.e. is it start tagging them, upload from my camera, get some blank DVDs – what is it? Even for little things like this, writing down my actual next step and not having it niggling at the back of my mind really helps.

My goal is to achieve that state of mind David describes in his book: achieve a zen like outlook on everything you have to do. When the time is right, you do it. When you can’t do something because your computer, phone, desk, home is not around – you just drop it. You don’t worry about it.

We’ll see how this more disciplined approach of thinking of Next Actions works for me, but so far, it seems to be helping! I feel calmer already.