By some estimates, people lose 2 hours of work a day due to interruptions. The time is wasted in two ways: First, when you are interrupted, you often lose your place. You have to go back and redo some of the work to restore your working context. Second, the topic of the interruption is often […]

Don’t be embarrassed if you occasionally feel scattered. It’s a normal transition state. For example, after you’ve finished a major project, you may feel somewhat scattered until you’ve figured out the next big thing to focus on. But don’t let yourself remain feeling scattered for long. A scattered state is an indecisive state. None of […]

In the chaos of battle, military doctors use a system of triage to determine whom to treat. They divide the wounded into three categories: those who will survive without treatment, those who will likely die despite treatment, and those for whom treatment will make the difference between life and death. In desperate battlefield conditions, the […]

Imagine this scenario: Bob is working on manpower estimates for the upcoming year, a big project. Two hours in, when he is deep in the details, his boss drags him away to a meeting with a customer. During the meeting, new ideas for the manpower estimates pop into his head uninvited. He can’t pay attention […]

When your thinking process feels stopped by too much on your mind, take a moment to distinguish whether your are overloaded or overwhelmed (or both at once). “Overloaded” is a cognitive state. It occurs when you are juggling too many ideas in your mind, perhaps everything you need to do before an upcoming deadline. As […]

Questions are the motor of thinking. A question puts your subconscious databanks into motion—it’s a request to the subconscious to provide information. Although I teach techniques to generate questions to move thinking along, sometimes it’s helpful to use pre-packaged questions in addition to or instead of your own. To warm up your thinking on a […]

Here’s a daily practice I learned from Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness. Once each day, write down three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. You can write them before going to bed or first thing in the morning. You can write them in a journal or in a calendar or on […]

Willpower is crucial to achieving your goals. From putting forth an extra effort to meet a deadline, to curbing your spending to save for the future, willpower is the force that turns your good intentions into reality, I think willpower draws on a kind of reservoir of emotional energy. Because it is so important to […]

I’m a believer in using checklists and notes as memory aids. But sometimes you need to be able to rely on your own memory. This is particularly true for things you want to remember every time, like: Remember the car keys. Pronounce that word PREF-ur-u-buul, not pruh-FUR-uh-buul. Take that medicine with breakfast. How do you […]

Wishful thinking doesn’t solve problems. But it can transform your motivation when you are not “in the mood” to do the next task on your agenda. I stumbled upon this fact while on a long trip. At a certain point, I thought I should dig into four annual reports I had brought along. But I […]

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