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Wisdom can only be gained the hard way

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I walked into the room feeling like the least accomplished person in there. It was an invite-only group for tech founders whose companies had hit certain milestones. A support group of sorts. A place to vent frustrations, share struggles, and swap strategy in private — away from the judgmental ears of investors.

Why, you ask, should such a group exist? Because try telling your mom that you blew your tech budget on an agency that didn’t have a full stack tech team.

Or, one person might say, “I’m being sued.”

“Me, too!” “So are we!” “Us too!” …

From Homer to Franzen, productive people lean on these pacts as a proven way to stick to their goals

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Famed director Quentin Tarantino “never use[s] a typewriter or computer.” He prefers to write screenplays by hand in a notebook.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri writes her books with pen and paper, then types them up on a computer without internet.

Jonathan Franzen, the writer Time magazine called the “Great American Novelist,” believes “you can’t write serious fiction on a computer that’s connected to the Internet.”

These methods may seem extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures. …

‘Planned Spontaneity’ is a crucial productivity secret nobody talks about

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Do you sometimes feel you lack spontaneity in your life? And yet you’re running ragged, cranking at work, taking care of the kids, and managing all of life’s other responsibilities. If there’s not enough time for your own wants and needs, how can there ever be enough time to live with joyful abandon?

There’s a simple technique that allows you to step off that hamster wheel and add greater spontaneity to your days. And the best part is you don’t have to give up the sense of order that your life needs.

Productivity and spontaneity are not opposites, as most…

To find your focus, learn to resist this self-sabotaging excuse

Photo: Simon Abrams/Unsplash

Imagine this: You’ve been diagnosed with a rare and serious disease. In hopes of keeping you alive, the doctor recommends a new, experimental course of treatment. It works for some people — maybe 60%. But it’s covered by your insurance, and if you are in the 60%, you’ll be successfully cured in six months. What do you do?

Of course you say yes. Maybe you’ll get unlucky and it won’t work for you, but it’s worth a try. You’d probably try the treatment even with only a 10% success rate. …

Understanding the distinction is the first step to managing your time

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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?”


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…

You can override your less-than-helpful instincts by learning techniques from the persuasion business

Photo: John Macdougall/Contributor/Getty Images

The reason why you hate being micromanaged by your boss is the same reason why, as a kid, you refused to put your coat on when your mom told you to bundle up. We’re all wired with a knee-jerk “don’t tell me what to do!” response called psychological reactance — and it can kick in even when it’s you telling yourself what to do.

Saturday Night Live recently captured this tendency with a skit about the “Pelotaunt,” getting riders to workout not through encouragement, but through passive aggression. A woman in the spoof says, “If I hear the phrase, ‘You…

‘Limoncello, why not?’

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If you have never tried limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, you may not know that it tastes like a concentrated, alcoholic version of Theraflu.

I was introduced to it years ago after a lovely al fresco meal with my husband in a movie-set-like patio restaurant in Sorrento, Italy. When our waiter came by to clear away our dinner plates and suggested this post-dinner treat, we were skeptical. My husband predicted it would turn out to be the Italian version of Kahlúa, a beverage that requires a picturesque holiday locale to be at all palatable.

We asked our waiter what it…

When you replace this common definition of values with a better one, your life suddenly becomes clearer

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When I recently came across the headline “The World’s Most Influential Values, In One Graphic,” I couldn’t help but click — a good data visualization is like catnip for me. The chart, compiled by global research company Valuegraphics, shows the results of 500,000 surveys, across 152 languages, about what people value. A few of the answers on the list: freedom of speech, leisure, financial security.

I was disappointed. Not because any of those things are bad, but because they aren’t actually values. For the survey, the authors defined values as “what we care about,” which is the definition that a…

A short guide to empathetic leadership during a crisis

Manager on a video call with his team.
Manager on a video call with his team.
Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Co-authored by Johnathan Nightingale

Just as we were early in the pandemic, we’re currently in the fog.

This is one we could see rolling in months in advance: At the end of a year of anxiety and suffering and “grimace” emojis, this presidential election is momentous. As we write this, the results are not obvious, just as many expected. But predicting the fog doesn’t give us a greater ability to see through it once it arrives.

In the fog, simple helps, so let’s keep it short: Here are three things bosses need to do this week, regardless of what happens…

If you don’t understand it, you’ll always be heading down the wrong path

Green light walking sign on a street pole.
Green light walking sign on a street pole.
Photo: jaboticaba/Getty Images

A while back, my wife and I were talking on the phone with our daughter, who was away at college. She was struggling with one of her classes but assured us that she was asking for help — something we had always encouraged our kids to do whenever they felt stuck. She said she had sent several emails to the resource center and was trying to set up a meeting with her professor. All good, but in spite of her efforts, no one had gotten back to her.

As she relayed the story to us, I could tell she believed…


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