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Want to win the latest book from 99u?
Update: Winners have been picked and are announced at the bottom of this post.
“Stop doing busywork. Start doing your best work.”
That’s what the latest book from creative powerhouse 99u, Manage Your Day-to-Day, promises.
This book was just released today, and is a creative toolbox for doing exactly what it says on the cover: managing your day-to-day.
Featuring insights and wisdom from creative greats like Dan Ariely, Leo Babauta, Scott Belsky, Seth Godin, Mark McGuinness, and Stefan Sagmeister, this is undoubtedly a must-have book for the modern creative.
Which is why I’m going to give away a copy to three random readers.
And the winners are:
- Leslie, who posted this comment to the blog.
- Lauren Kreiss, who left a great post over on the official Creative Something Facebook page.
- And Ryan Scott from the Twitterverse.
All winners must send an email to tannchri+creative AT gmail.com in the next 24 hours to claim their prize.
Thanks to everyone who participated!
Leverage the Progress Principle with iDoneThis
We’ve written before about the secret to happiness and motivation at work. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer wrote a whole book about it called The Progress Principle. They found that the number one driver of a positive inner work life, the key to motivated, engaged, and productive employees, is making progress on meaningful work, even if that progress is a small win.
In a recent 99U conference talk, Professor Amabile shared the best way to achieve those small wins and leverage the progress principle in our daily lives: keeping a work diary. We’re so pleased that she suggested using iDoneThis as an online work diary tool, and we thought we could break down how iDoneThis contributes to the four benefits of keeping a work diary that she identifies:
1. Capture progress that may have been lost in a busy workday and celebrate the small wins.
Professor Amabile notes that even on frustrating, seemingly unproductive days, you can almost always find one thing on which you made progress. Note it. Celebrate it. “This is the best way to leverage the progress principle,” Professor Amabile says. Next stop: more awesomeness.
iDoneThis helps you see your workday through the lens of accomplishment because it asks, “What’d you get done today?” In taking a moment to reflect on this question, you make a habit out of focusing on the progress you made and your wins, however small. Writing and recording wins in your iDoneThis calendar is a quiet affirmation and celebration.
2. Plan next steps, think things through, and overcome setbacks.
Professor Amabile also suggests using a work diary to consider the causes of setbacks you experience and create a plan of action if a similar problem rears its head again. The Progress Principle encourages learning from negative experiences and counts those valuable lessons toward your overall progress, turning negatives into net positives.
iDoneThis contributes to such positive growth, because it keeps a record of all your daily doings. You can go back into your log and see what decisions, actions and efforts led to the setback. In short, you can pinpoint where things started to go wrong. This record gives you the information to form a plan of action to resolve similar setbacks. Down the road, your iDoneThis becomes a map to which you can refer back and see how you overcame obstacles.
3. Nurture your own personal growth and work through difficult events.
In her talk, Professor Amabile provides an example of one engineer struggling through the experience of massive layoffs at her company. While grappling with the stress of watching her team members being laid off and her own uncertainty about the future, the engineer turned to her work diary to center her thoughts. She recognized that because she had no control over her position at the company, instead she would focus on the one thing that she did have control over — her work.
iDoneThis is about you, you the captain of your work. It’s not a task-specific or project-oriented tool in that it isn’t interested in micromanaging questions like: “How far did you get on Project X today?” or “What did you do for Team Y?” No, it asks, “What’d you get done today?”
This is a question that matters when the going gets tough. Your progress is what matters, not that of a particular endeavor. If you need to center yourself and regain control of a situation by focusing on work, iDoneThis allows you to see evidence of your control and progress. If you need to focus on your emotional and cognitive processes, iDoneThis provides an outlet for that as well.
4. Spot patterns in your reactions and behaviors. Identify your greatest strengths and weaknesses.
In The Progress Principle, Professor Amabile recommends asking yourself at the end of each month, “Do I notice trends over time in this journal? What are the implications?” She also describes how research participants would change their behavior based on recognizing unwarranted and unconstructive behavior patterns.
Patterns of behavior and trends are easy to spot with tools like iDoneThis. Because iDoneThis records all your entries in an easy-to-read monthly calendar, you can see at a glance the ebb and flow of your inner work life, day to day, week to week, month to month.
iDoneThis also provides a Word Cloud, a fun way to spot trends in your entries. The Word Cloud is populated with the most commonly used words in your entries. At the moment, my most commonly used words seem to be “worked”, “idonethis”, and “gym.” Sounds about right.
5. Find patience.
Professor Amabile adds a bonus benefit to her list of four, noting that keeping a work diary “can help to cultivate patience.“ Why? Because you can always look back and see how you persevered and survived much worse days.
It’s especially true if you’ve kept your work diary with iDoneThis. Every day that you make an entry, you’ll see a blue check mark appear over each calendar day. Over time, you’ll see from the number of blue checkmarks in your iDoneThis calendar that there are no unproductive days. Even on the worst days, you achieved accomplishments worthy of note. Don’t believe it? Click on that day and see for yourself. There’s always something in each of your past days to be proud of that contributed to the successes that came later on.
It’s an honor for us to have Professor Amabile’s recommendation. It’s always been our goal to create a tool that helps people find happiness, meaning, and motivation at work through celebrating their daily progress, however incremental.
Ginni Chen is Chief Happiness Officer at iDoneThis. When not striving for the happiness of iDoneThis members, she’s a rock climbing instructor, skier and collector of first edition books. You should follow her on Twitter at @GinniChen.
What I learned at 99u
This past week I was in NYC for the 99u Conference by the Behance network. I have been a long time fan of this conference, so it was kind of surreal to actually be attending. In true Creativity Chronicles fashion here’s a breakdown of some of my key takeaways.
Find what you Love
Sebastian Thrun, the winner of this year’s Alva award - recognizing remarkable inventors, is the founder of Google X Labs that works on projects like Google Glass, and the self-driving car. He offered the audience a simple analogy for embarking on your life’s work: “when you are climbing a mountain, you don’t do it to spend a ton of time at the top, you do it for the climb - so make sure you pick a mountain you like.”
Getting to the summit of a mountain, much like making an idea happen, is never going to be easy; it’s great to see the big picture in front of you but you must take as much pleasure in the journey as you do in the final product.
So many talks circled back to the idea of committing to something and seeing it through.
A particularly enchanting talk was by Jane from Sugru, she told her story of perseverance in getting their product off the ground. She talked about the dead ends, her attempts to partner with big brands, the credit card debt, and the support from friends and family - but beyond just her personal struggle, each step of the way, she shared the stories of her users and how Sugru was helping them hack the products in their lives. It was the belief in the idea and the validation from the community of dedicated users that saw her through to the success they have today. You can see much of their story here. She received a, well deserved, standing ovation.
One of my favorite quotes from the conference was by Brené Brown who said “you have to have at least one person in your life who when you fail, will say well that sucked, but you were brave”. Her book Daring Greatly has quickly risen to the top of my must read list. If you haven’t seen her Ted talk on Vulnerability - it’s a must watch.
A number of people touched on the fact that creativity is not just some mythical creature that swoops in, sits on your shoulder and *poof* you have an epiphany. Being inspired is hard work and it requires you to show up everyday and get work out there, some of it may be good, some may be terrible but you just have to do it.
As Brené Brown put it - you’re going to get your ass kicked - guaranteed, but without vulnerability and the ability to put yourself out there, you can’t create. The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.
Michael Wolff said when he creates he goes into a place called Nothing, where he can get away, be alone, and be quiet. Scott Belsky also touched on the overwhelming amount of information that exists in our daily lives, and how we have become more reactionary to it - without carving out time to digest information and process it, we will always feel like we’re drowning.
A couple of my favorite qoutables:
“People can see the way you behave” - Michael Wolff
“Don’t let success get in the way of your creativity” - Joshua Davis
“The type of work you make is the work you’ll get hired to do. Better love the work you’re making” - Joshua Davis
“If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings” - IDEO
“Sometimes to make miracles happen, you just have to dive in” - AJ Jacobs
“Start small and make it good.” - Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh
“It’s about taking a brief or specs and being able to interpret it as a living entity.”—Op-Ed: An Entrepreneur’s Take on Building a Great Design Team - 99U
Day 29: Creativity Is My Lifeblood
To be honest, I think being creative helps keep me alive. I’m pretty sure almost all of the other creatives I know feel the same way. It defines the core of who we are as thinkers, as doers, as people. I’ve noticed that I feel considerably better about my life in general when I am actively engaged in some sort of creative process. On another note, I usually feel my best physically when I am in the midst of reading a good book. More to the point, 99U has again helped me learn to harness and enhance my creativity and I’m hoping their tips boost my lifeblood as well.