Author Archive: September 12th, 2013

12 Sep

You Are Where You Work

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

You Are Where  You WorkWork is not the same as it was 50 years ago, or even 15 years ago! Flexible work arrangements have thrown the traditional 9 to 5 out the window. In an effort to boost employee morale, productivity and engagement organizations are offering perks from bringing your dog to work to providing places to “play” during the workday. This month at LTAW we are talking about the unconventional in the workplace…which we are sure will someday become the new normal.

We are fond of the saying “you are what you eat” because it seems obvious that what we put into our bodies and minds eventually becomes a part of who we are. But what about everything on the outside of us? In what ways do our surroundings shape who we are and how we think? Some of the earliest examples of people who understood the deep impact of physical surroundings on human potential were the early Catholic artists from medieval history (note: if you are a medieval historian please refrain from pulling your hair out from my loose interpretation of history).

Churches of antiquity were built purposefully with specific goals in mind. The high vaulted ceilings were meant to draw attention to the heavens from the worshippers below. The basilica (or cross shaped) design of cathedrals was symbolic of the central message of the Church and the centrally placed elevated pulpits served as a reminder of the Bible’s authority. There was a clear connection between the physical environment and its influence on human behavior and thought. This seems like a distant world from the fluorescent-lit maze of gray cubicles that have come to dominate many work place settings. But things are starting to change.

There is a growing body of research and examples of unconventional, creative workspaces that illustrate the powerful effects that one’s physical space has on productivity and morale.  One study has shown that size, specifically large open spaces, is a vital factor for creating an atmosphere of creativity, in some cases more than how that space may be organized. Other research has highlighted the importance of allowing employees the freedom to organize and utilize workspaces to match their individual preferences and desires. Things like bringing in plants, pets or a favorite game, freedom to move furniture, or collaborating around white boards are all ways people utilize space to incorporate their different learning styles and personalities. There are even some experts that suggest that for some people, messy workspaces may be a factor in spurring creativity and thinking outside the box (i.e. think Einstein’s cluttered chalkboard).

What’s important in all of this is that businesses are starting to realize the direct relationship that workspace has on encouraging and developing creative and productive employees. After browsing several creative workspaces, here are a few that really stand out to us as fun, creative places to work. We hope the trend continues!

You Are Where You Work

 

You Are Where You Work

 

You Are Where You Work

 

You Are Where You Work

Do you work in a non-traditional office space? How has it helped or hindered your creativity/productivity? Tell us in the comments below!

Be Unconventional!

 

30 Aug

It’s Easier To Manage Time When It Is Precious

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

It’s Easier to Manage Time When It Is PreciousIt has become a cultural adage that “time is our most precious commodity.” It is the thing that most people would wish for more of on their deathbeds and yet, almost none of us live as if it’s true. It is evident in the ways we casually pine away hours playing games, watching TV, or browsing social media. It is also evident in our obsession with packing every minute with an impossible amount of tasks to accomplish. Both tendencies treat time as a commodity, but neither treats it as precious.

What if we thought of time in the same ways we do other things we value, like money? So instead of gauging someone’s success by their financial worth, we measured them by their wealth of time and how they used it. We could ask questions like “How much time do you make a year” or “How are you spending your time”, without receiving funny looks. There is an interesting movie (albeit sub par acting), In Time, that imagines exactly this kind of world. In the movie, people spend their lives working for and accumulating time, not dollars. Although fictional, the movie is a creative portrayal of the hidden reality that it is true for all of us; that time is the great invisible dollar that dictates much of our lives. I highly recommend watching it.

The first step to improving your time management is to gain a new appreciation for the preciousness of time. Calendars, busy schedules, appointments, and obligations can create the illusion that time is no longer yours but owned by someone, or something, else. It is not; time is yours, and it is precious. A practical way to start taking back and valuing your time is to do things that “give you back” time that is lost on unimportant things and makes the time you do spend, more valuable. Here are a few steps you can take to start taking back your time:

1. Sleep, Exercise, and Play

Most of us immediately sacrifice sleep, exercise or play when our schedules fill up because they are seen as less vital and are easy to cut short. I am guilty of this far too often. As you know from experience, this is counter-productive. What we gain in “extra” time is lost when the sacrifice catches up to us. Resist the urge to skip on these things and reap the benefits of more valuable time later.

2. Prioritize

You should be prioritizing your time in the same ways you prioritize your financial budget. Experts in time management agree that accomplishing the day’s most difficult tasks first will help you accomplish more and eliminate unnecessary tasks from your list. After spending your most productive time on the most urgent tasks, you are free to spend the “left over” time more liberally.

3. Make Time Precious

The final, and most important, step you can take to begin revaluing your time is to start viewing and treating time as a precious commodity. It takes constant reminding of this fact, because time is hard to measure and is easily hidden behind more tangible things like money. This shift in perspective will not only change the way you organize your professional life, but it will change the way you spend time in your relationships, community, and social life.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

 

28 Aug

Time Management for Working Moms

Blog 2 Comments by Travis Jones

Time Management for Working MomsEveryone has the same amount of hours in the day, but because not everyone has an equal share of tasks to accomplish, not really. The way women and men divide up their time (between work, child care, and household duties) has been of interest to social scientists for several decades. What has always been the case is that mothers, even the 21st century working mom, have had to deal with the “invisible” shifts of childcare and housework in ways fathers never have. Although these inequalities of time and tasks are drastically changing with the rise of women working outside the home and fathers bearing some of the “invisible” burden, the time constraints on women is still far greater than men.

It is no surprise then that the wealth of information on time management tips for working mothers is large and growing. Before I offer any tips of my own, it should be said that the time inequality that working mothers face should first be exposed for what it is. It’s just not fair that women should have to carry these extra burdens, and then be expected to adopt more strategies to cope with them without first addressing the root problem. There is no real nice way to say it. But since this is a deeply rooted issue in our society (and won’t be fixed by this post) and a very real part of many women’s lives, it’s still important to talk about strategies for dealing with the time constraints. Below are two suggestions that begin to unravel the inequality of time and offer practical steps to ease some of the burden.

First, prioritization is an essential skill for working mothers (and fathers) in the busy lives of 21st century parents. For working mothers especially, the skill of prioritizing what is most essential and time sensitive is the first step of relieving time related stress. Juggling the myriad demands of housework, career, family, and children can be daunting and requires practical strategies to manage. One way to be more productive, and avoid being overwhelmed, is to prioritize your daily tasks into categories of “urgent”, “that can wait”, or “that’s not important.” The advantage of visualizing such lists is that your mind now has a starting point, a workable checklist, and a tangible picture of what actually must be done.

Second, working mothers should delegate. It is not the duty or a given obligation to unequally carry the burdens of a family, especially if there are helping hands close by.  Every working mother’s circumstance is different but, assuming that they are working a second invisible shift of household chores, childcare and other familial duties without help, some tasks should be delegated to spread the “wealth” of responsibility and ease some of the stress from being overworked.  This may come in the form of sharing duties to pick children up from various activities, dividing up household chores on a weekly basis, or assigning members of the family to skill related tasks. Delegating out responsibilities to your loved ones will not only free you up to be more productive for what is most important, but will help you “win” back some time in your day to keep you more healthy and happy.

So until we reach a more equitable culture of shared responsibility, working mothers, and their families, should prioritize and delegate as first steps to making its actualization possible.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

 

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