Recently, I started following Signal v. Noise on Medium. Signal v. Noise is (to quote the blog directly) “Strong opinions and shared thoughts on design, business, and tech. By the makers (and friends) of Basecamp“. One of my favourite things about it is that many of the posts can be read in 5 minutes – they’re concise, straight to the point, and I have plenty of time to read them on my lunch break or before work.
So – here’s my top 3 posts that I think everyone should read:
First in the list, my current favourite. Here, Claire Lew talks about how she copes with worrying as a leader. I feel this advice also applies to everyone in general, and not just in the workplace but in everyday life too. She makes some great points, such as:
- – Don’t worry about what you can’t control, deal with what you can.
- – It’s good to plan ahead and prepare, but overthinking and worrying about every “what if” isn’t.
- – Sleep on it. Take a step back, go do something else and come back when you’ve cleared your mind a little.
I find that a lot of things I’ve worried about were – in hindsight – pointless. So while it may be easier said than done, “Worry less” is definitely one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given.
In this post Jason Fried talks about how important getting enough sleep is, how working long, exhausting hours on a regular basis is just bad for you, and how this idea that the perfect worker is capable of pulling it off is complete rubbish. I agree – I’ve previously worked with people who seem to think countless hours is the mark of an exemplary role model, but it’s simply not true. It just caused them stress, they burnt out pretty quick and their performance went downhill along with their motivation.
“I think this message is one of the most harmful in all of business. Sustained exhaustion is not a rite of passage. It’s a mark of stupidity.”
Jason follows this up by pointing out that not only does lack of sleep affect your own performance, but it affects others as well:
“It affects the people around you. When you’re short on sleep, you’re short on patience. You’re ruder to people, less tolerant, less understanding.”
I know I wouldn’t want to work with someone like that.
Sleep is hardly a sign of unproductiveness (Unless you’re a fan of doing it on the job 😉 ) – if you have to consistently work overtime to get something done, then maybe you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
Last of all, another one from Jason. In this one he suggests that rather than just immediately brushing off an idea as wrong, or infeasible, try taking some time to think about it first. Sure, you may be right anyway, but it’s better to at least give it some thought. It’s not a race!
“There’s also a difference between asking questions and pushing back. Pushing back means you already think you know. Asking questions means you want to know. Ask more questions.”
Another good point he makes is that it can seem rude too. If someone almost instantly disagrees or dismisses something you’ve proposed, giving it no thought, it feels like they’re suggesting your idea was pointless or stupid.
I’ll admit, I’m occasionally guilty of not thinking before I speak. As Jason himself said, dismissing an idea is easy and takes no skill, and “Learning to think first rather than react quick is a life long pursuit.” – but the benefits of doing so are most definitely worth it.