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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Work

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We’re all rethinking work these days

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Chances are, your job has changed in the past year. And it’s not just that we’ve swapped cubicles for kitchen tables, donned protective gear, and adopted Zoom for everything from board meetings to birthday parties. How we think about work — and how we feel about it — has changed, too.

In her newsletter Culture Study, Anne Helen Petersen, whose book Out of Office comes out later this year, writes: “This has been the hardest thing for people who didn’t work from home before the pandemic to visualize: your current WFH scenario is not your future WFH scenario.” She predicts…


📂 Today’s tip: Use your Drafts folder.

Here’s the task-prioritization hack to try when you’re tired of to-do lists and calendars. Jason Chatfield writes on Medium that this is a trick that works “100% of the millionty zillion times I’ve done it”: At the start of the week, write out, or at least start, the main emails that you have to write. You can also just start an email with the subject line reflecting something that needs to get done that week. (For example: “Touching base with Jason about Project Z’s deliverables.”) …


Understanding the distinction is the first step to managing your time

Photo: Alistair Berg/Getty Images

Because I write about distraction and how to avoid it, I often get asked the question “Aren’t distractions sometimes a good thing? Don’t we all need some distraction in our lives?”

Nope!

Distractions are always bad. Period. Diversions, on the other hand, can be good. This isn’t just hair-splitting: The two concepts are fundamentally different, and if you want to use your time productively, you need to understand the important distinction between them.

As I explain in my book Indistractable, distraction is an action that pulls you away from what you intended to do.

Distraction prevents you from living out…


📥 Today’s tip: Automate your email workflow.

At the end of the day, talking about work over email isn’t the same as producing the work you were hired for. To wrest your working hours from the jaws of your inbox, you must automate your workflow.

In his new book A World Without Email, the productivity mastermind Cal Newport suggests scheduling recurring emails ahead of time and using templates wherever possible. “Make automatic what you can reasonably make automatic,” writes Newport, “and only then worry about what to do with what remains.”

✍️ We want to hear from you. What’s your…


🤔 Today’s tip: Schedule a “hunch hour.”

Brainstorm sessions can be useful, but they can also be intimidating. Fred Dust recently wrote on Medium about an alternative: the hunch hour. “A hunch is a whisper of an idea — something that might come to you on a long walk or in the shower. Usually, it’s something so half-baked that you’d normally never utter it aloud, and therefore, it will never become what it could.”

The key is that the feedback that participants receive should be just as half-baked. “You’re not telling the person they’re wrong but rather surfacing a tension…


A therapist explains why it’s not just about finding confidence

Photo: chee gin tan/Getty Images

One thing I can say with confidence about remote work: It does absolutely nothing to ease impostor syndrome. Over the past year, even as the world turned upside down, many of my therapy clients have continued to battle work-related worries: They don’t deserve a recent promotion; they aren’t qualified to give that upcoming Zoom presentation; they find it hard to feel professional and accomplished when the sink is full of dishes and they haven’t worn real pants in weeks.

People who struggle with imposter syndrome often think the solution is to build up more confidence — psyching themselves up in…


A counterintuitive strategy for getting back on track

Photo: Nisian Hughes/Getty Images

Surely I’m not the only one who has found it difficult to focus and work efficiently recently, by which I mean for the past year or so. But I’ve also discovered an unexpected trick for getting work done in difficult times: You don’t need to find your own productivity if you can borrow it from someone else.

I’m not talking about some kind of dark magic where I transfer my procrastination to others. The alchemy I mean is the burst of energy I can get simply from watching TV. …


☀️ Today’s tip: Go outside.

We’ve spent some time on Forge singing the praises of spending time out in the cold. Great news for anyone who’s still skeptical: Soon, you won’t even have to worry about getting chilly — which means it will be easier than ever to reap the restorative benefits of being outside.

For a mental-health day (or quick midday break) that truly recharges you, spend it out of the house. As Ashley Laderer explains in Elemental: Studies have shown a link between proximity to ‘green space’ and a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms,” and getting out…


A fashion maxim that works for the rest of life, too

Image: Kurt Brodbeck/EyeEm/Getty

It would probably surprise a lot of my current colleagues to learn, but I once worked “in fashion.”

I loved this part of my magazine job precisely because I’ve never been all that interested in how to dress. As a story editor, I could look at the subject unburdened by, well, a refined sense of style — a beneficial quality because my job was to take the fashion department’s ideas and present them in a way that made sense to any reader, regardless of their sartorial predilections.

When you come at fashion that way, you’re able to see it for…


Cal Newport’s advice for automating your workflow

Photo: 10,000 Hours/Getty Images

Email is a thief disguised as convenience — and its sneaky energy-sucking threatens to ruin our work lives.

Replying to emails and company message threads never feels like it should count as “real” work. After all, have you ever seen a job posting that lists “quick with tonally appropriate Slack emojis” or “a whiz at inbox zero” among a candidate’s ideal skills? Yet, most of us spend upward of a third of our workdays feeding what the author and Georgetown professor Cal Newport calls “the hyperactive hive mind workflow.” …

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