Tag Archives: writing

Reading. Writing. Thinking.

I’m reading about

Eleanor Roosevelt.  My book club is reading My Year with Eleanor and I like to read a series of books based around a theme (or as in wine tasting, a flight). I’ve always wanted to learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt, so this is the book flight I’m trying:

I’ve found Franklin and Eleanor a bit dense and have only been able to focus in small sittings.  I also made the mistake of jumping ahead when I got bored and now have to go back and piece together what I’ve missed.

I’m also finally getting to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

I’m writing about...

The “us vs. them” mentality between management and staff. This is something I’ve found particularly prevalent in manufacturing environments.

I’m thinking about…

The science behind why we are more creative and productive in some spaces than in others. Our work environments affect our behavior, so as managers, paying attention to space planning and basic design can have a big impact on organizational culture.

At home, I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space (although it’s shared with my husband and often barricaded against the toddler). It’s super functional but not particularly inspiring. So I’m using Pinterest to gather ideas for my dream office.

office

Functional but boring.

Have you created an inspiring workspace, at home or at the office? I’d love to hear about it!

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

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On optimism.

Sunrise by Nigel Howe

Do you write down your long-term goals?  Productivity gurus recommend separating our to-do lists into daily tasks, mid-range projects and long-term objectives (think: operational, tactical and strategic) and we all know writing down our goals keeps us focused, organized and accountable.  But did you know it can also make you feel more optimistic?

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky explains how recording our dreams in a “Best Possible Selves” diary can help us feel more positive and improve both our mental and physical well-being.  Writing down our vision of ourselves in 5 or 10 years helps us define our values and our identity.  You get a happiness boost from anticipation, and having a mental image of yourself living your best life helps you stay optimistic about the future.

Other ideas on managing your long-term goals:

 

You might also like:

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

(Photo by Nigel Howe via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Teaching as a learning tool.

“Teaching made me so much better at studying.”
– Ann Patchett

In The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, Ann Patchett remembers how teaching her first literature class forced her to think through her ideas, support them with examples and then present them in a logical way.

If you’re trying to master a new management technique, consider presenting a team workshop or training session around that topic. Teaching it to others will enhance your own learning, and working on a public timeline will keep you moving forward.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer or just enjoy learning how someone masters a craft, I highly recommend downloading Patchett’s Kindle Single.

 

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

tracking your deliberate practice

A deliberate approach to improving your management skills requires analysis and reflection. It’s important to record what and how you practice, the results of new tools or techniques, and your daily management observations.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg describes how William Carlos Williams, a pediatrician and poet, often wrote on prescription pads between patient visits. As a result, his works contain many prescription-pad-sized poems. I’m reminded of this story whenever I start a fresh notebook. “Our tools affect the way we form our thoughts.”

How you record your practice is a personal choice but I recommend experimenting with different formats. If your day is spent in front of a keyboard, using pen and paper for your management observations may offer fresh inspiration. If your workspace is covered in post-it notes, transferring those thoughts to a Word document or electronic journal may help you see themes and patterns. Blogging your practice can also be productive, as it forces you to organize your thoughts for others to read.

If you struggle with remembering to record your practice, iDoneThis offers a free service that I’ve found useful. They send you a reminder email at the end of each day and you simply reply with what you’ve accomplished. Your responses are automatically saved to your personal calendar for later review. To make this tool most effective, combine it with a scheduled block of time to reflect on your daily “dones” and draft a plan for integrating what worked into your management toolkit.

 

(Hat tip to Dan Pink for recommending iDoneThis.)

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

 

Don’t let your business writing get “puffy”.

In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King recounts how an editor once labeled his work “puffy” and recommended he revise for length. That editor then gave King the basic formula that changed his writing forever:

2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%

This rule is as applicable for business writing as it is for fiction. Business writing often focuses on content over form, resulting in long, boring or redundant copy. A solid revision policy forces you to look critically at your overall presentation and trim your writing down to the essentials.

Many organizations, particularly mission-driven ones, can also benefit from the writing adage “kill your darlings”. These “darlings” are jargon-laced phrases that convey a great deal of meaning within the organization but mean absolutely nothing to the external customer. These phrases force the reader to pause, translate, and eventually, to lose interest. Keep your reader engaged by saying only what you need to say, clearly and succinctly.

This post contains affiliate links.