Princeton Executive Coaching

The Way We're Working Isn't Working, by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy

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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, it is a habit."- Aristotle

"Have you ever been too busy driving to stop and get gas?"

Stephen R. Covey

I once worked with a talented colleague who stressed to his boss and clients that he was different than his peers. He was "24/7 – always reachable via Blackberry".

I remember thinking that it did n't sound like a great way to work.

Tony Schwartz and his co-authors explain why even saner versions of this approach don't work well in the long run. While we know intellectually that we're wired differently than our devices, we often end up working as if we are - always on and multi-tasking. It's another reminder than knowing and doing are two very different things

They point out that this has intensified in recent years as the demands on leaders have increased dramatically while our hardwired capacity remains the same (at best).

Takeaways

Make waves.

Schwartz and team note that unlike our laptops, humans work best in alternating waves of intensely focused work followed by a brief, but deep, period of recovery. In practical terms, a 90 minute highly- focused work period would be followed by a much shorter recovery break of perhaps 10 or 15 minutes of a different type of activity The quality is more important than the time (think taking a walk - not crunching through emails).

Schwartz et al stress that by making these cycles into daily rituals or habits, we more fully leverage how we are physiologically designed and can achieve sustainable high performance. How are you going about your work?

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