Rest and laughter are the most spiritual and subversive acts of all.

- Anne Lamott
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Gracious reader,

Deep into tweets on her piece on millennial burnout, and responses to the piece, journalist Anne Helen Petersen took a moment to ask another question.


I considered responding*, but didn't want to give her another response to sort through.  Exhausting.

January brings us posts and posts about resolutions, goals, and productivity. 

And I'm still recovering from the holidays.  How about you?

*"Just stop in at the hardware store for some Ball jars, and let go of optimizing all of the things."
Look Inside

When I've thought about burnout, it's been my thought that it's not just a matter of overwork, or always being on.  I get burned out when I'm out of alignment with what I value.
  • When feeling pressured at work, consider reviewing your organization's mission and values.  How well do they align with your own values?

    Last year I discovered a lovely, simple guide by Dr. Norissa Willliams, called Get Your Life, which you may buy directly from Dr. Williams here.  It's a simple, straightforward approach to uncovering your personal mission.

  • Goals are most effective when they have clear edges.  Using the SMART framework helps.

    When a goal is SMART, it's "specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound."  When a goal is stated in this format, the answer to "Have I met this goal (yet)" is never Maybe. 

    So, the SMART iteration of "read more" would be, read X books a month in 2019. 

    At work, your goals should be more than a to-do list.  If you work for someone who isn't supportive of stating your goals in SMART format, your boss may not be an experienced manager.  Or they may not be very good. 

    When you're fortunate, you can choose to work elsewhere.
Just Say No

After decades of experimenting with productivity strategies and tools, I've come to see that most books about productivity are also the author's memoir.  (A corollary to Austen Kleon's "all advice is autobiographical.")

Productivity systems are something an author made for themself.  Unmodified, their system may not work for you.

  • "The half-life of obligation is short; the half-life of guilt is long. Promises never saved one of my side projects, but they clogged many nights and weekends with the gunk of regret."  No more forever projects is a mantra that's stuck with me since I read Diana Kimball Berlin's blog post nearly 5 years ago.
  • In Focus Amidst the Chaos, cartoonist Jessica Abel managed to say, "You just have to say no," in a calm and gentle manner.  Jessica's point:  figure out what's important, and say no to the rest.
  • "Tidying Up is also an aspirational show based around an argument that I don’t think it’s actually capable of making: the idea that if you could just get organized enough — empty out that junk drawer and clear out that garage — so many larger, more persistent personal problems could be taken care of in the process."  Is It Just Me, Or Is Marie Kondo’s Netflix Show Weirdly Dark? by Alison Willmore at Buzzfeed

    I did read Kondo's book.  I will say No to the series. 

    When the limited series on bullet-journaling comes to pass, I will quit Netflix.
*And So Forth...

My original How to Have a Job list is still posted as a google doc, and accepting comments.  Kieran McGrath added:

“Strong performance” is not a pre-requisite for respect. Everyone should be treated with respect, from the day they apply for the job all the way through the unfortunate times someone gets terminated. Everyone deserves respect and dignity at work, in every scenario.

What do you think?

I'd love your thoughts, either via email or as comments on the doc.
When you're encouraged to practice self-care to enable productivity, you're being hacked. 

Or maybe even metaphorically swatted:  the demand hits you where you can't help but live -- in your body, and your mind.

From my distant history as a (worse than mediocre) college athlete, I'm having very positive thoughts and memories about the notion of "recovery." 

After working a muscle to exhaustion, you have to stop.  A good place to start with the stopping might be around optimizing for productivity. 

It's an opportunity that's not equally available:  if you have it, take it -- and then share your strategies with people in your orbit.

Do you lead a team?
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