So, I’m reading this book. I know, I know. Clay has a book to recommend. Big deal.
Before you click away to the latest on the presidential dysfunction, let me just mention one of the many exercises suggested in “Designing Your Life,” which is based on the most popular class at Stanford University. It’s called “The Good Time Journal Activity Log.”
It’s pretty simple actually, and you see one of my log entries above. The idea is to note what you do each hour of the day and how that work allows you to engage with other people and whether it gives you energy or drains you. Draw about eight lines on a sheet of paper – one for each hour of your work day — and put those funny gauges on the right for “engagement” and “energy.” Positive engagement and energy get an arrow to the right of the gauge and so forth.
In my case, I found generally that my excitement for my job was higher in the morning hours and tended to dip after lunch. That might not feel like a revelation in and of itself, but if you look at it in black and white, it might suggest ideas for a more fulfilling, more productive work day. For instance, I have always left about 1 for a coffee break. Well, my log entries taken as a whole (the book suggests doing it for about three weeks) strongly suggest that my afternoon pick-me-up isn’t working. Maybe I should try something else, like going for a 10-minute walk or using that time to check in with friends. Maybe that caffeine is no more than an addictive problem….
I also note the things that give me energy and the things that do not. Now, some things just are. We don’t have the liberty of jettisoning everything that is boring or hard, but maybe there are ways to make some of those tasks that are dragging me down more collaborative or to share that “fun” or to do that work in a different way that doesn’t sap me so.
I highly recommend “Designing Your Life.” It uses the same design-thinking principles employed by savvy 21st century product designers to tackle the problems of your career, work-life balance and making the most of your time at work.