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5 Things to beg your boss for this week

5 Things to beg your boss for this week

Unless you’re one of the nomads who has broken free of every attachment to the office but an internet connection, this short talk from 37 Signals’ Jason Fried will resonate with you.

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It’s great for managers to hear that they should minimize meetings, hire people they really trust to do great work, and work to empower instead of frustrate.

But what can you do as an employee to make a difference at your workplace? Request one of the following to start.

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1. Extended lunchesYou’re probably eating lunch at your desk these days so this will be a game-changer. Ask for a 2 hour lunch and make it a working lunch. Get out, stretch your legs, and settle into a quiet place for a solid hour of uninterrupted work time. You’ll kick yourself for not asking sooner!

2. Meeting agendas – If a meeting doesn’t have an agenda, you can argue that you won’t be able to prepare properly and won’t be able to bring your best contribution. In reality, agenda-less meetings tend to be a huge waste of time and using the “I want to give my best” argument is your quickest ticket back to productivity.

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3. To be excused – If the portions of a conversation relevant to you have been covered in a meeting, excuse yourself. Being in-demand is a huge asset and so long as you’re gracious and apologetic, you’ll get away with murder so long as you’re outproducing the people who stay for entire meetings.

Note: Perhaps that’s the key to anything like this? If you’re making the requests but not following up with a boost in productivity, you’re just spoiling things for others. On the flipside, if you put the work in and set a precedent for a more flexible view of scheduling based on your results, that’s good for everybody.

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4. For more work – If you’re getting more work done because of the changes you’ve made in your process, ask for more work. You’re ringing the cash register now!

5. For objective feedback – While being free of meetings and running around outside the office might improve your short-term productivity, make sure it doesn’t affect the long-term quality of your work. Especially for creative types, it’s important to get quality interaction with different perspectives and process-driven types who force you to think in new ways and try new things.

If you’re not getting face time at the office and chit-chatting at meetings, you’ll need to put the time in other places to stay on the same page with coworkers. Make sure your manager knows you care about making that happen and that you want her help and feedback on how you’re doing.

What else could you ask your boss for that I haven’t listed?

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Seth Simonds

Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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