Not So Bad Habits

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    Welcome to the first 2024 edition of Humanity Working! First, a bit of news. I am shifting to a different schedule with this newsletter – publishing it every other Thursday instead of every week.

    What am I going to do with all the spare time? Well, for a start, I’ll be focusing a bit more on our Humanity Working podcast. We get such great feedback on the podcast, and we’ve already got some amazing guests lined up for 2024, so I want to give it the attention it needs this year to really thrive. The podcast will be released on “off” Thursdays (each week between newsletters), in both audio and video form. But perhaps more excitingly (at least for me) – I’m working on a book! Expect more details about it in the coming weeks.

    If you want to keep abreast of all of this – please follow me (Paul Slater) on LinkedIn and hit the bell on the top right corner of my profile to get notified when I release anything new.

    Alright, let’s get on with things. This edition – how to help new habits stick. Plus – working fast and slow, and why Gen Z is sleep deprived.

    Working Fast and Slow

    A few weeks ago, I released a video called reading fast and slow. This looked at how a combination of fast and slow reading can be much better than whizzing through all content.

    This got me thinking about work more generally. Today, the world is awash with recommendations about how to get more done in less time. Many of these techniques are very valuable and we recommend a lot of them in our BillionMinds program. But should we be working fast all the time?

    There is surprisingly little concrete research on this topic, but based on what we’ve seen at BillionMinds, I think the answer is probably not. Here are a few reasons why.

    First, working fast all the time might limit our creative thoughts. Fast work provides very little time for your mind to drift, and almost no time to get bored. Boredom is very often a pre-cursor to truly creative thoughts (it’s one reason we come up with great ideas in the shower or on a run – we are not obsessing over trying to get things done in those moments.

    Second, working fast also gives us less time to reflect. Reflecting allows you to understand if you are focusing on the right things, redesign how you are doing work, know what to stop doing, and gain a deeper appreciation for your work.

    Finally, it is possible that a continuous focus on speed may not be great for our mental health. Most personal productivity techniques are a form of “forced speed” – fixed time bursts of energy, interspersed with short breaks. This may seem similar to creative bursts of energy, but one comes naturally and the other is driven by a clock. While forced speed techniques absolutely can improve work discipline, and even boost mood – at BillionMinds we have found that most people struggle to maintain many focuses periods day in day out – often citing exhaustion or lack of motivation to do another focus period. Perhaps that is telling us something about how sustainable these productivity techniques are.

    While there is still some work to be done to understand everything fully, I think it’s already clear that there is a time and a place for slower paced work alongside faster work. If we give ourselves permission to linger over at least some of our work, we can see real benefits – even to the point where more and higher quality work gets done over time. As a leader of mine once said, “Slow down to speed up.”


    Gen ZZZZs

    Talking of reflecting – our team member Gigi has been spending some time looking in more detail at sleep, and specifically why the Gen Z generation is struggling to get enough of it.

    In her article, she goes into detail on the stress-sleep cycle, and also offers some practical tips on how companies can nudge all employees towards better quality sleep. Check it out here.

    Habits that actually stick

    Video Length: 2 minutes 2 seconds

    It’s that time of the year again when we make our resolutions. Will they stick this year? Many of us think that the most important factor determining success here is willpower – but that really isn’t the case, because willpower ebbs and flows in all of us. This week, my animated twin looks at a few simple steps you can take to multiply the chances of a new year’s resolution lasting for more than a couple of weeks. You can watch the short video below:

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