Attention management for writers, the last part: pay no attention to productivity

So here we are, at the end of our attention span, and I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room: productivity. I’m not a huge fan of productivity talk. It always feels rushed, stressful, and focused on quantity over quality. Focusing on attention feels like the exact opposite: The goal is to …

Attention management for writers, part 4: Research notes

Research notes. A bombastic name for what is usually a bunch of half formed thoughts and snatches of typos. But you know what I mean. Why am I talking about research notes? Because, at least for me, messy notes – especially if they’re physically scattered among multiple sources (notebook, bits of paper, several different files) …

Attention management for writers, part 3: The obligatory Slack and email post, or: guilt management for writers

Until now, we’ve focused on calming the chaos of our internal voice. Now it’s time we talked about that other attention killer: external voices. And, because I like to cheat, their influence on our internal voice. One thing you can do this week: Understand the difference between objective obligations and emotions. Nothing new here Honestly, …

Attention management for writers, part 2: Plan your week, then your day

We tend to focus on planing one day at a time. And sure, we need to look at our plan in the morning (or the previous evening) and tidy it up. But we should also plan each week , either on Monday morning or, if you like spoiling your weekend, on Sunday evening. Some people …

Attention management for writers, part 1.1: Forget about remembering

Intuitively, we know there are two things that destroy our attention: the voice in our head, and the voices of our colleagues (I am not qualified to tell you how – or whether – to ignore your kids). This blog series starts with the voice in our head. The one desperately trying to keep on …

Attention management for writers: foreword

It’s been a year of working from home. For some writers – parents, mostly – it’s been a year of zero focus. But for others, it’s been a revelatory year. One that showed them what work looks like when they control their interruptions. When no one can walk up to their desk to ask a …

This isn’t the job you were hired to do

When you start a new job, you can’t really work without a mental image of the job: “This is my role. This is what I should be doing and how I should be doing it.” But that image is about 90% wrong (yes, I made that number up), and you need to let go of it …

I Wonder That You Will Still Be Writing; Nobody Reads You

Agile got (at least) one thing right: stop writing documents no one’s ever going to read. If you want to honestly assess what will or won’t be read – and therefore what should or shouldn’t be written – you should answer some basic questions. We can divide these questions into two types: 1. Content questions: …

The Doomed Knowledge Transfer: Last Minute, Improvised Show and Tell

Leaving your job and training your replacement? There are four simple rules to effective knowledge transfer: create independence, work together, plan and give yourself the time to do these things. First and foremost: assume that you will not be available to answer any more questions after you leave. Even if you’re staying in the same …

Lessons I Learned as a Tester, 7: Stop. Think.

In a lot of offices, if you’re not typing or clicking – you’re not working. It’s an odd view for any member of an industry that prides itself on thought and creativity. To analyse a problem, understand it and come up with a creative solution to it, you need to think about it. Thinking, for …