The problem with work-life balance

The concept of work-life balance implies that work is bad and life is good; it suggests that work and life are two dichotomous entities that need to be strictly separated and kept at an equilibrium; for some, it even insinuates that less work equals more happiness. In its most neutral definition, work is generally seen …

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The ambidextrous mindset: how to balance exploration and exploitation

People who can both innovate and optimize are an extremely rare breed. Innovating requires a taste for risk taking and experimentation; optimizing calls for an altogether different skill set, mostly reliant on refinement and efficiency. That’s known as the exploration-exploitation dilemma. Great innovators are not always great managers. This is a common story: a founder …

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Creative burnout: when the creativity tap runs dry

Creativity is fragile: it needs to be fed enough inspiration, but not too much, for consuming an excessive amount of information may destroy its delicate balance. It needs space to grow, but should not be forced, for mechanical work may lead to lifeless output. Despite all our care, sometimes, it seems to be gone: the …

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Activation energy: the chemistry of getting started

In chemistry, activation energy is the energy that must be provided to result in a chemical reaction. The more energy is needed, the harder it is to start the chemical reaction. In work and life as well, we sometimes need to get over the initial hump of getting started. For instance, it can be hard …

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The benefits of laziness: why being a lazy person can be good for you

Sloth is one of the seven capital sins. While it’s hard to define it exactly, most will agree it has to do with laziness: the disinclination to use energy. Whether or not you believe in such moral vices, most cultures see laziness as a negative trait. However, being lazy can have advantages—and many of them …

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High-leverage activities: how to identify your energy multipliers

We all have an absolute limit on time. If you add up the number of hours you are breathing during a given week, the total will be the same for every single living human being on the planet, whatever their occupation or personal situation: 168 hours per week. Remove the weekends, and that’s 120 hours. …

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Time is not a measure of productivity

Not so long ago, most people were working at an office desk, and were expected to show their face every single weekday. Arrive at a certain time, take a lunch break, and stay late enough that people know you are working hard. Using principles from hourly work to define productivity in knowledge work has resulted …

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Adjacent skills: how to widen your career perspective

Gone are the days of linear career trajectories. Most people will live several work lives, and careers have become increasingly mobile. While deep expertise in a given domain can lead to a successful career, it is also a more rigid approach which may limit the number of lateral opportunities. In contrast, adjacent skills can open …

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Structured distraction: how to make the most of your breaks at work

If you went to a traditional school, chances are you were told to avoid distractions at all cost: keep your eyes on the teacher, take copious notes, don’t fidget on your chair, and don’t let your mind wander. As adults, we have internalised this mantra and seek to be hyperfocused on our work. But our …

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From productivity porn to mindful productivity

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. To put this figure into perspective, that’s about ten years of back-to-back work. So it’s no wonder productivity advice is so popular: we rightfully try to make the most of the time we spend at work. However, our desire to be more productive …

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