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Passion as a Work Multiplier

Passion as a Work Multiplier

Warning: Your Mileage May Vary on this specific post. Consider this an open idea, or a hack in progress.

I work best when I thread my professional efforts and my personal projects together in the same space. I might have a window open on the computer and in it, I’m defining a process flow for a new engagement model, and in another, I am writing a post to share with you here on Lifehack.org. Later in the day, it might be a mix of sending off emails to vendor partners and drawing in my sketchbook. When, for whatever reason, I put down my personal projects and hunker down into the business of the day, I often feel less engaged.

This would’ve escaped my notice had I not found myself having the same conversation twice with two different people today, both claiming that they seemed to feel much more energy to do their “day job” work when they mixed in a little bit of their personal passions alongside it.

Woodchoppers All

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Often times, I joke with software engineers that we should all quit our jobs and become lumberjacks. At least then, we’d have tangible proof that our efforts mattered. When code gets thrown out, when projects get canceled, when forces much larger than ourselves shift things in a direction we can’t control, things feel daunting, maybe even close to hopeless. It’s easy in those situations to take one’s foot of the gas.

But what if you had a way to stir some of your own personal passions in between the cracks of what it is you do to make a buck? What if you could guarantee much more passionate output on what you’re being paid to do by being permitted to thread into your day that which really ignites a spark in you?

Passion Allowance

For most of us, our reaction to feeling the malaise about our contributions not really impacting the organization as much as we want is to retreat into something innocuous. Some of us reorganize our email systems. Others recommit to smoking. Some just take longer and longer lunch breaks and leave early as many days as they can.

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Bosses see it, I’m sure. For some, they just don’t know what they can do to motivate. For others, they get the sense that they wish they could do the same thing.

What if there were an option for your supervisor to say, “Hey Ramesh, I know things have been a bit bad lately. Tell me what you wish you were doing right now.”

Okay, for some, the answer might be “fishing,” or “go home,” or similar, but if you and your supervisor felt you could truly talk about it, if it were a company imperative for people to be as engaged as they possibly could be, wouldn’t a “passion allowance” be an interesting way to keep the juices flowing.

For example, I recently attended the Podcast Academy in Boston, and I came back really invigorated about how our company might be able to employ podcasts internally as communications and learning tools, and externally, as a way to promote what it is we do to our prospective new customers. I was fired up, and I knocked down my VP’s door over and over to tell him about some other ways to spin what I’d learned into a neat company project.

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Oddly, my assigned work flourished at this same time, regardless of the final outcome of the podcast request.

Would it Hurt Production?

I believe we’re already finding ways to drag against production when things get daunting, when we feel overworked, when our best efforts feel like they’re for not. I believe our current methods are all negative, but also all easier to hide. We can discretely slow things down far easier than we can openly embrace things we’re passionate about.

So maybe yes. There might be a hit to productivity as opposed to sticking strictly to the job at hand, but I can imagine where the return on investement would be showing up: in excitement, in overall satisfaction, in a near-tangible electricity about what it is you’re passionate about, balanced by your current job.

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There are several ways people consume time during an average work day. “Work” rarely takes up all the hours we populate our places of employment. What differences could mixing passion in with the work at hand bring?

As I said, this probably will warrant lots of interesting commentary, especially heavy on the “there’s no way that would fly at MY place.” But I wonder how much of what we consider our standard work environment is considered far more permissive than the office spaces of 1964. Could it be this is yet another shift in the cultural needle that must happen to accommodate new trends in the way people get things done? What do you think?

–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com]. He will be attending BarCamp Boston in June, and would love to meet you there.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Stop Information Overload

How to Stop Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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