Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts from the Productivity Category

The Medium of Ringer

Talking of publishing platforms, Bill Simmons’ new venture, post-Grantland and ESPN, is heading to Medium:

We first talked to Bill in December. Over the ensuing weeks, it became clear that we have a shared passion for raising the bar on what it means to create and share meaningful stories and ideas. It’s been Medium’s mission from the outset to create a set of tools that make it easier than ever to make your stories look beautiful, find the right audience via the Medium network, and drive engagement and conversation that drives thinking forward. We can’t think of better partners to help us develop our product roadmap for premium publishers on Medium.

Similarly, Bill and his team have an outstanding track record of publishing smart stories in a distinctive voice and building an intensely loyal readership. They are the best at what they do, and we are incredibly proud that they’ve chosen Medium as their platform partner for The Ringer.

I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that, unless your tech offers you a competitive advantage in some way, you’re better off working with an off-the-shelf, or hosted product that keeps your tech overheads to a minimum – and probably develops faster than your own site would.

The last thing you need to burden a new content proposition with is unnecessary tech costs.

Compelling exploration of how creative minds function:

As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who has interviewed creative people across various fields points out, creative people “show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.”

The ability to switch between apparently contradictory modes of thinking is key. Fascinating.

MG Siegler:

True power is when media creates content explicitly for a network, rather than simply repackaging it.

A useful insight. A lot of work has been done over the last decade on workflows and tech for pushing the same content through multiple channels. And new, we’re slowly waking up to the fact that you need to create for the space, not merely repackage. That brings a whole set of hard choices with it.

Startling figures:

ABC figures for December 2014 show the Daily Mail site reached 199.4 million visitors during the month – up 1.4 per cent on its previous monthly record of 196.7 million visitors in November.

It remains well above all the other UK newspapers – but it’s also the one whose web identity is very, very different from its print identity. This is not a coincidence.

exhausted-pop.jpg

When you’re two years old, a busy day just needs a restorative nap, while you are carried home by your parents. When you’re older, and your productivity matters, you need more than that:

Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.

This fascinating NYT piece on holidays and the brain’s reset button by Daniel J. Levitin, director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University, is an excellent summation of the results of research into how our brain functions, and the interplay between productivity and daydreaming states. The conclusion is good news for us all, I think:

If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations — true vacations without work — and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.

There’s more to lists than you think:

Umberto explained in an interview that lists are often seen as relics of primitive cultures–simplistic devices that don’t belong in our modern day and age. However, the simple form of the list prevails again and again over time, because, as Umberto says, it has “an irresistible magic.”

Until I read this, I thought a list was just a list, but t’s actually a way we start to define reality around us in a way we can handle. I wonder if this makes blogging as a way of writing ourselves into existence a natural successor – or descendent, at least – of lists?

Christine has reviewed Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much:

To put it simply, one must have a lot of bandwidth and little-to-no financial scarcity to think about saving for college or retirement. The peace-of-mind expendable income brings allows a person to think about and build up rainy-day savings. The poor are too busy putting out budgetary fires to think about retirement. They have too little bandwidth, or “slack,” in their minds and their budgets to entertain such a long-term idea. They are worrying about rent and car repairs. Their tunnel-focus on those immediate costs render the poor unable to look far ahead or plan for the future. Anything that lies “outside the tunnel,” as the authors say, gets ignored.

This, coupled with what I’ve already heard about the book, makes it sound like a compelling read. I’ll be grabbing a copy.

Cognitive work
One thing that’s vital to bear in mind during busy periods is that managing your time and managing your ability to do cognitively-demanding work are two very different things. It’s doesn’t matter how well you chunk up your time, if it’s all the same kind of work, you’re on a slow slide to inefficiency. There’s a great exploration of this on Time’s Ideas blog, in The Mistake Busy People Make:

By bandwidth I mean basic cognitive resources — psychologists call them working memory and executive control — that we use in nearly every activity. Bandwidth is what allows us to reason, to focus, to learn new ideas, to make creative leaps and to resist our immediate impulses. We use bandwidth to be a good participant at an important meeting, to be a good boss to an employee who frustrates us and to be attentive parent or spouse.

For example, I’ve burnt most of my bandwidth for the day in completing, revising and re-ordering a major training schedule, that’s based on a large piece of research and testing of the people to be trained. I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve got – but that’s the end of the really demanding cognitive work I can do today. Indeed, with two days of training delivery ahead – which is very cognitively demanding – that’s probably the last big piece I’ll get done this working week.

Luckily, I’d planned for that…

There’s a whole load of genuine research behind these ideas. One thing I’ve done consistently since I worked on the Nokia project back at the beginning of the year has been designing my day in exactly this way.

I’m very time-constrained on two of my working days a week, with pretty hard start and end points based on nursery drop off and pick up for Hazel. I was completely unaware of how much I relied on being able to let my work expand into the evening to be productive prior to Hazel going to nursery. Designing my day has enabled me to be so much more productive in those tight, constrained windows of work – and then enjoy playing with my daughter, guilt-free in the early evening.

Designing your day isn’t just about designing the working parts of it…