Productivity

Every time I reach the conclusion of a game of chess, I find myself struggling to figure out how to craft a checkmate. When the game starts, there is a tempo to which both players trade pressure and pieces; there are always various possibilities with varying degrees of consequence, and no moves are likely to be your last.

But in the final moments, almost every more has the possibility to secure or thow away the game.

Maybe starting things is easier to finish them because stakes increase over time. Perhaps it’s just that we find it easier to forgive our mistakes when the boardstate is in chaos.

Either way, if you fail to checkmate your opponent, and you don’t win the game. Stalling is not an option.

You can feel it, like a storm brewing in the rear of your mind. You can see things slowly piling up. You know you should start, now. But you don’t.

You don’t, because you never do. Because something else always finds a way to capture your attention; holding it captive just long enough to let panic set in. Then, finally, you start. It’s too late too achieve what you know you could have, but it’s not too late to scrape something together.

When this narrative becomes a repetitive feature, thinks break (often things you’d prefer to keep in-tact).

Instead, cut the story short at its beginning. You feel the storm brewing, so you stop. You give yourself permission to do one of two things: the precise activity you’re meant to be doing, or absolutely nothing. No cheating. No exeptions.

Soon enough, you’ll be so bored that you’ll do anything to move on with your story.

Learn to lavish anticipation, and the wait can be as good as the reward.

Or, spend the lead-up in agony; anxiously imagining everthing which could go wrong between now and then.

Our imaginations might do some to prepare us for what could occur, but no sum of preconceived scenarios will ever come close to the efficacy of a charged, focussed presence.

Quit worrying about two weeks from now; there’s something in front of you.

Take it in.

Every now and then, you pull off something utterly remarkable; something so special that your blood speeds up and your breathing stops.

It’s so, so important to hang on to those moments.

Not to gloat; they shouldn’t exist for the purpose of impressing anyone else. We must cherish these moments because, for as long as we remember their details, they serve to remind us of the what we’re capable of.

When we’re at our lowest, it’s the memory of these moments which drag us up; if we did it then, we can do it now.

There is greatness trapped in every human being.

It’s up to us how much we release.

It’s not often a zero sum game.

We talk in terms of give-and-take, but these are not the only available outcomes of negotiation.

Our priorities are never wholly aligned; if they were, we would never need to negotiate. This means that whatever is being given or taken is worth different sums to different people.

Giving a little in the right places can mean a lot more to someone than what it cost to give.

Standing firm and insisting in taking in the places most important to you might generate the same effect in reverse.

Balancing the ledger in such a way that all parties feel as though they walked away with more than they gave is not just possible, it should be the focus of all negotiation.

If you’re anything like me, where you work has a massive impact on how you work.

I’m not the kind of person who can whip my laptop out on the corner of a crowded coffee table and get to work.

I work best when I’m surrounded by other focussed people.

If I can hear the clinking of mugs or vacuous office chatter, chances are I’m not doing the work I need to do.

Noise cancelling headphones help, of course. But more important than anything is that ambient pressure of being in a place where progress will be made, with or without you.

Doing is infectious. If you’re in a rut (as I recently have been), I can’t overstate how important it is to be surrounded by people who charge you up.

When an opportunity falls into your lap, sieze it with all the enthusiasm and might you can muster.

Don’t give yourself the time to chicken out; to convince yourself that the risks (which your gut has already analysed) are too much to handle.

Think it through, but don’t dig so deep into the flaws of an opportunity if that opportunity diminishes over time.

Sometimes, we just need to take the leap and make what we can of opportunity on the fly.

We get motivation from tasks and activites which offer us the clearest sense of progress. Unfortunately, the activites we should be doing aren’t always the activities which provide the clearest sense of progress.

This dissonance can cause us trouble.

Sifting through those 92 unread emails might feel like productivity as the number slowly dwindles, but there’s a good chance that we’d be ignoring some important work in the process.

It isn’t enough to work efficiently. If we want to do great work, we need to be focussed as well as efficient. Every working moment is self-investment. Invest wisely.

COVID-19 has forced many folks to reinvent their core business, which has been especially challenging for live performance artists and theatre makers.

How do you distill the ambiance of a theatre into something digestible on screen, without the budget of The Royal Shakespeare Company? Whose shows you can (and should) watch online, by the way.

It’s prime time to find a local artist you wish to support and subscribe to them on their platform of choice, but it’s also time for artists to reimagine the wheel.

The rules are changing and in all chaos lives opportunity.

It’s up to us to sieze it.

If you’re not an expert, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve discovered something the experts missed.

While a ‘solution’ might make perfect sense to you, it usually turns out that you were lacking a key piece of context or knowledge (possessed by the experts) which puts a cannonball sized hole right through your sinking idea.

Don’t drink bleach, you’ll end up in hospital. UV light doesn’t belong ‘inside’ your body , it’ll give you cancer.

Trust your experts. Science is falsifiable for a reason.

Still can’t find an expert to solve your problem? Become one.