Accounting For Your WFH Time: A Security Guard’s Solution

This article offers a personal account of simple ways the author has tracked his work from home (WFH) time and analyzed his job duties as they have changed over time. Adopting some of these strategies may help you and your team track and analyze their WFH time.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Most In-Demand Skills To Be Successful For 2020 And Hereafter

Everyone wants to be successful in their career and personal life. What skills will be in demand in the future and what will help you succeed? Discover what are must-have soft and hard skills for the next few years.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Custom Simulation Training Examples That Will Keep Employees Engaged

Are you wanting to learn more about the different ways simulation training could be used to grow your employee Learning and Development programs? In this article, review 5 examples of custom training simulations that promote employee engagement and can be used to inspire your training strategies!

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Dealing with the Siren Song of Distraction

It was amazing.

The deeper I got into the book writing process, the more I wanted to distract myself.

I had to keep reminding myself that we were past the point of “just one more source” and keep writing.

I had a couple of epic ideas that just wouldn’t die, despite my attempts to keep them in the backlog or just say “no.” They kept demanding “research” and “ideation” and “action.”

These distractions come at a cost.

The cost is the energy and time it takes to get the thing I started done.

The cost is the risk that I will NEVER manifest the thing I want to manifest.

There are two parts to opportunity cost.

The first part is the cost to take advantage of the opportunity presented.

The second, and most overlooked, part is the cost of the opportunities we cannot take because we are working on THIS opportunity.

Remember: we live in a time and in a culture where opportunities are abundant (despite pressure to believe otherwise) and personal time, energy, and resilience are scarce.

So what do you DO with this siren song?

First, recognize that the siren song isn’t going to stop.

I’ve personally found that the more important the project I am working on is, the louder that song becomes.

Second, ask whether the siren song is just another, sneakier, form of resistance or whether you need to ask deeper questions about your current project.

The appeal of the siren song is a test of why you are doing your current project.

Is the siren song attractive because you have hit a rough patch? Or is the new idea truly a better option?

Third, how urgent is the siren song? Are you truly staring at a “once-in-a-lifetime” “first-mover” “never-gonna-happen-again-unless-you-act-right-now” opportunity?


I’m in the process of putting together a course on this topic and would love your feedback.

  • What questions do you have about setting priorities and maintaining focus?
  • What outcomes do you expect from this course?
  • What topics would you love for the course to cover?

Add your comments. The comments are personally moderated, so I will see them before they post. Thank you for your help.

The Cult of The Hustle

When did performative workaholism become a lifestyle?

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?, Erin Griffith, The New York Times, January 26, 2019

The always-on, always-on-call, always producing, always sharing, always hustling, maximizing ROI life.

The whole thing feels like an energy suck in one direction.

It’s not just young people. I’m seeing it in my cohort too.

Hustle, grind, climb the ladder, stay on top, keep informed, serve all.

The ones who can’t (or won’t) keep up are beginning to opt out.

Those of us who have hit the middle of our lives, I’m coming to believe, got lucky.

We remember a time when we had to find pay phones, couldn’t take our work home with us, couldn’t be on-call all the time, had to go to libraries, bookstores, encyclopedias, and newspapers to find information. The technologies weren’t there.

We also went to college when it was much less expensive. We are not burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans.

Many of us are already at the point where we have proven ourselves. Most of us have already found our place in the world (even if some of us aren’t entirely happy about it).

I don’t think I’m a complete Luddite. The access and visibility to more options is awesome.

However, for those of us in middle age who find ourselves overwhelmed by the technologies and expectations of our current culture, we have a lived model of what happens when we don’t have the electronic leash hounding us 24/7.

Deeply consider why you are doing what you are doing.

How is what you are doing working for YOU?

It’s one thing if you are driven by an idea and voluntarily hustling to make that idea real. Working in the flow state when time passes without you knowing it.

It’s another to have an entire culture expecting you to move ever-faster and working to channel YOUR flow state into THEIR agenda.

I feel for those who come behind us. We, at least, know a different lived experience.


I’m heartened by a progressively louder conversation around human energy and how the way we are working isn’t sustainable.

Change is going to require personal responsibility around managing your energy.

Re-learning the cycle of growth and rest.

It’s not a technological problem and will not be a technological solution.

We need to figure this out for ourselves in an unsupportive container that keeps preaching the hustle and grind and “ever-increasing energy” and growth at all costs.

For myself, it’s time for me to opt out of “performative workaholism.”

Life is too short.


Resources

Thanks to Julie Dirksen and the Nerdy Shop Talk Facebook Group (Closed) for these resources.

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work, The New York Times (2019)

Palaces in Time: Designing Against Productivity, Sebastian Deterding, MIT Media Lab (2015, 1 hr 15 min video)

Accounting for Energy

I’ve been thinking about personal energy and our plans recently.

Often, we tend to make our plans based on our best case scenario.

We’re feeling healthy, energetic, our best selves. We then make our plans and set our timelines accordingly.

Then we beat ourselves up when the average to bad days kick in and we don’t get done what we intended to get done.

Energy management is particularly acute for those of us suffering from chronic conditions or extended illnesses.

We have good days and bad days. Sometimes, it’s tough to predict which days will be good and which ones aren’t. Sometimes, we don’t even know until we get started and realize that we either a) feel better than we thought or b) don’t. Sadly, b happens more frequently (at least in my life) than a.

I’ve been experimenting with leveraging the Scrum project management concept of “story points” as it applies to my personal projects.

First is figuring out the complexity of what I’m trying to do. Both the cognitive load required (high/average/mindlessly repetitive) and the amount of focused time I will likely need (lots/some/”this will just take a few minutes”)

Second is figuring out my energy patterns and what a realistic cadence looks like.

In Scrum – each sprint has a set of available points based on the cadence set by the team. In a personal context, you have a set of available energy points based on your productivity patterns.

You then look at your “backlog” (or the “to-do” list) and assign “story points” (or level of effort points) to each task.

Ideally, you match the tasks you intend to get done that sprint (or week) with the energy points you have available and the priority of the task.

Example: I have a high story point task I need to get done this week (such as “Finish Chapter 3 of the book” – high complexity/cognitive load AND requiring lots of focus time). If I’m going to get that task done, I shouldn’t plan to get much else done beyond previously scheduled client work (which also takes up energy points). I might find a mindless, low focus, need-to-get-done task from my backlog to fill in extra time and get it off my plate – but only if I underestimated either my energy or the amount of effort the main task takes.

I find keeping track of my to-do list (what I planned to do that day) and my done list (what I actually did) over a week or two helpful in determining what I can realistically get done. If I’ve never done this type of tracking before, I would consider doing it over 4 or more weeks – to account for any hormone fluctuations, illnesses, life patterns, etc. This tracking sets up the “energy points.”

Tracking my productivity patterns becomes especially important when I am going through a health flare-up, such as the back injury I was fighting last year or a visit from the Cookie-Monster Bathrobe.

Instead of beating myself up over what I haven’t managed to get done, I use that information to set realistic weekly sprints for myself and resetting expectations.

Any big change in your health or stress levels should trigger a re-evaluation of your energy points.

Right now, I find myself saying “no” a lot more frequently – only because I don’t have my usual number of energy points to work with on top of having high story point tasks on my plate.

I’d rather disappoint someone up front and find them a different resource that will help them with their issue than to promise something I can’t deliver. My ego hates this. I want to be able to do all the things at the pace my ego wants to set (which is instantaneous).

When it gets right down to it, maintaining positive relationships by doing what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it to the best of my ability is more important to me than serving someone poorly.

What are your current energy levels?

What tasks are on your plate, how complex are they, and when are the deadlines?

How do these match up in your life?

Let me know if you find this framework helpful.

Looking at the Time Dimension

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” 

Bill Gates

We can only act in the present moment.

We only have certainty right now.

We can only decide what to do next from where we currently stand.

We can base our decisions on where we want to go in the future.

If I take this next step – will this move me towards or away from my desired destination?

Clarity only exists in the immediate.

I only have certainty that I will perform the next task.

I can plan my to-do list for today. Whether I am successful in crossing anything off may be another story – and that’s OK.

Slightly more challenging is figuring out what I need to get done this week. I can set time aside in my schedule and try to scope the work to fit the time I have. A lot can happen in a week that we don’t expect.

Same thing with the month, the quarter, the year, and other, longer periods of time.

We lose clarity the farther out we go on the time scale.

That’s OK.

More importantly is whether you are headed in the direction you desire and that you are clear on why you are headed in that direction.

As much as we wish that our dreams would manifest instantaneously – creation takes time. Often more time than we would wish.

Life happens, energy fluctuates, we make our estimates based on our best-case scenario with our current environment staying static.

This is why we tend to over-estimate what we can accomplish in a year and under-estimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.

We feel we can get more “done” than we actually can. We over-estimate our time and energy and under-estimate the amount of change in our immediate environment.

However, if we continue to move forward, weaving between the trees and finding the shallow spots in the creeks, we can find ourselves having accomplished more than we ever dreamed of.