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Procrastinate Better

Why is it that the more work I have to do, the more the Internet beckons me into its endless maw of distraction? Oh Lord, I will say, appealing both to myself and to whatever blog-God might be listening, I have an hour to finish this article.

But first, isn’t this Tasty video fascinating? I’ve never thought about making buffalo-fried cheese nuggets before, but now that I’ve watched a pair of disembodied hands prepare them so expertly, I should definitely head over to Amazon and Prime me some buffalo sauce.

This is how I found myself, exhausted after leaving work at 8 p.m. one day recently, flopping onto my bed, still in my pencil skirt, and clicking open a horrific, traffic-mongering slideshow linked from the bottom of an article I was reading. It was about Stars Without Makeup or What Child Stars Look Like Now or some other rancid meat for my hungry lizard brain.

Reader, I clicked through every slide. Then I dropped my phone, shocked at what I had become. This is not what a feminist looks like. This is not what a go-getter, or frankly, a decent human looks like. There’s got...

To Restore Trust In Government, Empower Federal Communicators

An October 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center for U.S. Politics & Policy found that most Americans (62 percent) had a positive view of federal workers, and a majority had a positive view of the federal agencies they were asked about. But few (19 percent) trusted the government itself “to do what is right just about always or most of the time.”

Over the years I have received many email chains (Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:) portraying the government as corrupt or inefficient while hearing verbal anecdotes of federal employees who went the extra mile to help out.

Clearly, many federal employees are dedicated. The 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, administered by the Office of Personnel Management, shows that more than 90 percent of respondents “view their work as important, are willing to commit extra effort when necessary to get their jobs done, [and] consistently seek out ways to do better.”

Feds are also committed to integrity; they don't give you spin. Only 43 percent of respondents to the survey agreed that “senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce,” and 55 percent agreed that “my organization's senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and...

The Biggest Productivity Myth is that Rigid Rules are for Everyone

The internet is filled with advice and lifehacks on how to improve productivity. We all want to achieve more, it seems, to cram more into our days. There always seems to be that one overachieving colleague who has it all figured out, and uses a complex routine involving butter-filled coffee, short bursts of jumping jacks, and weekly fasting to help him achieve maximum productivity. Perhaps we should mimic his schedule?

But there’s little point trying to apply some strict productivity “rules” to your own working habits. Though methods such as the Pomodoro technique, which advises working in 25 minutes bursts with short breaks in between, are popular, scientific research shows there’s no set work schedule that works for everyone.

Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University, says that we all have different “neural styles,” as determined by our genetics, experience, how our brains develop, daily neurochemical balance, and caffeine and alcohol intake.

Meanwhile Gloria Mark, professor in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvin, points out that her research shows personality traits affect ability to focus. “People who score high on Neuroticism and Impulsivity, and who are more susceptible to stress, have significantly...

How to Sell a Product Called 'Democracy'

Marketing – something I know quite a bit about – and democracy are closely connected. Exploring this connection could help us improve not only our country’s electoral and government system, but also the lives of many Americans.

Marketers have a specific mindset. They start by asking what people want and need. They deeply research some group they wish to satisfy. They design a product, service or solution that will attract that chosen group. They win by making a strong promise and delivering on it.

I helped revolutionize the field of marketing by making the argument that marketers don’t have to limit themselves to thinking about physical products and services. They can also look outside business at other institutions and practices and ask whether they are well-designed and effective in serving their target users. Are our schools producing skilled and educated citizens? Is our food system delivering good nutrition? Is our health care system delivering healthy citizens?

We only have to look at world statistics to realize that the U.S. is not a top performer in any of these areas.

In a 2013 study, U.S. students ranked 36th in math and 26th in science when compared with 65 other...

How to Hire for a Cultural Fit

In a recent post, “How to Hire for Motivation,”I suggested interviewers need to break through the veneer of presentation skills to accurately assess both competency and motivation. It’s important to recognize that motivation to get a job and social assertiveness is not motivation to do the job.

Uncovering the source of the candidate’s intrinsic motivation is essential for increasing interviewing accuracy. Most often this is something about the work itself in combination with the team involved, the person’s manager, and the mission of the company or its culture. So before hiring someone you need to understand not only what’s driving the person to excel but also the circumstances involved. Once this is done you then need to assess cultural fit. This technique is covered in Lynda's Performance-based Hiring training program summarized in the video. 

Here are the factors involved in determining a company’s true culture. As you'll see it's a bit different than the one described on their website.

The Factors Defining a Company's Real Culture 

  • The pace of the organization and its position on the corporate growth curve. Fast-growing start-ups are different from their more mature and slow moving...

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