Tag: productivity (page 3 of 41)

A cluttered desk is a sign of genius

Perhaps it’s because I’m not a designer like the author of this post, but organising your desk space like this leaves me cold. My space looks like this.

Minimalist desk

I’m proud of what I’ve done with my desk setup over the last five years. Through careful observation of what’s working and what’s not, I’ve continued to improve how it serves my creative pursuits. Still, when I look at it in the morning, I get a rush of creative energy and optimism.

Source: The Evolution of the Desk Setup | Arun

Quotation-as-title comes from a plaque my father had on his (spectacularly untidy) desk…

Presenteeism, overwork, and being your own boss

I spend a lot of time on the side of football pitches and basketball courts watching my kids playing sports. As a result, I talk to parents and grandparents from all walks of life, who are interested in me being a co-founder of a co-op — and that, on average, I work five-hour days.

This wasn’t always the case, of course. I’ve been lucky, for sure, but also intentional about the working life I want to create. And I’m here to tell you that unless you at least partly own the business you work for, you’re going to be overworking until the end of your days.

Hidden overwork is different to working long hours in the office or on the clock at home – instead, it’s the time an employee puts into tasks on top of their brief. There are plenty of reasons people take on this extra work: to be up to speed in meetings; appear ‘across issues’ when asked about industry developments; or seem sharp in an environment in which a worker is still trying to establish themselves.

There are myriad ways a person’s day job can slip into their non-working hours: think a worker chatting to someone from their industry at their child’s birthday party, and suddenly slipping into networking mode. Or perhaps an employee hears their boss mention a book in a meeting, so they download and listen to it on evening walks for a week, stopping occasionally to jot down some notes.


However, for many, this overwork no longer feels like a choice – and that’s when things go bad. This can especially be the case, says [Alexia] Cambon [director of research at workplace-consultancy Gartner’s HR practice], when these off-hours tasks become another form of presenteeism – for instance, an employee reading a competitor’s website and sharing links in a messaging channel at night, just so they can signal to their boss they’re always on. “We’re seeing… more employees who feel monitored by their organisations, and then feel like they have to put in extra hours,” she says.

As such, this hidden overwork can do a lot of potential damage if it becomes an unspoken requirement. “If there’s more expectation and burden associated with it, that’s where people are going to have negative consequences,” says Nancy Rothbard, management professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, US. “That’s where it becomes tough on them.”

Source: The hidden overwork that creeps into so many jobs | BBC Worklife

What does work look like? (redux)

If you’re digging a hole or otherwise doing manual work, it’s obvious when you’re working and when you’re not. The same is true, to a great extent, when teaching (my former occupation).

Doing what I do now, which is broadly under the banner of ‘knowledge work’, it can be difficult for others to see the difference between when I’m working and when I’m not. This is one of the reasons that working from home is so liberating.

The funny thing is, sitting alone thinking doesn’t “look” like work. Even more so if it’s away from your computer.


I recently had a conversation with a long-time colleague, someone I know and respect. I found it interesting that even he, who has worked in software since the 90’s, still felt odd when he wasn’t at his computer “working”. After decades of experience, he knew and understood that the most meaningful conceptual progress he made on problems was always away from his computer: on a run, in the shower, laying in bed at night. That’s where the insight came. And yet, even after all these years, he still felt a strange obligation to be at his computer because that’s too often our the metal image of “working”.

Source: What “Work” Looks Like | Jim Nielsen’s Blog

Image: Charles Deluvio