Creativity and Innovation require different support structures

Creativity and innovation need to be supported and nurtured

In a recent article, I explained that, though the terms are frequently used interchangeably, creativity and innovation are actually two different processes: Creativity is the birth of an idea, while innovation is actually doing something with that idea to create something of value. Each of these require separate supports for them to happen productively in organisations.

For creativity to happen, people working in an organisation must feel ‘safe’ to share or articulate their ideas. The bemoaners and the hecklers are the killers of creativity in organisations – if people are belittled, made fun of or humiliated in any way for sharing seemingly bizarre or wacky ideas, employees soon stop sharing them. Making fun of new ideas is the surest way to stop creativity in an organisation. And all great ideas start out sounding somewhat strange or unworkable, somewhat silly or impractical. What happens the moment an employee shares an idea determines whether an organisation will be creative.

If senior management want their organisation to be creative, they must introduce support processes that encourage and nurture ideas. Ideas should be encouraged and rewarded, and it must be made clear to everybody that ideas are not only welcomed but represent the very future of the organisation – organisations lacking creativity fall into decline and eventually disappear. So managers and team leaders need to be educated about creativity – they need to understand what it is and how to encourage and support it. As those in direct contact with staff, managers and team leaders are key in promoting creativity – if they are the ones who make fun of ideas by saying something like “don’t be ridiculous – that will never work” or “get real – be practical”, creativity will be stifled no matter what senior management say.

And when an organisation successfully creates an atmosphere conducive to creativity where employees share lots of ideas, all of these ideas must be treated delicately and nurtured. Some won’t develop into something of value now (but might in the future, so don’t disregard any!), but a few will if they are supported at birth. When an idea is turned into something useful – into something of value, this is innovation. For innovation to flourish in organisations, support processes are required. Again senior management must be seen to support the innovation process. This process will be somewhat different in each organisation, but essentially it must be one where failure is acceptable – most ideas don’t develop into something useful on the first attempt, so the organisation must treat failure as feedback and learn from it. Employees involved must feel safe to fail and when they do, they will repeatedly try until they succeed. It is the trying that makes an organisation innovative.

The difference between creativity and innovation

The terms ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are frequently used interchangeably and many people perceive them to mean the same thing. Such usage of the terms confuses managers and others who need to lead change, creativity and innovation in organisations. The reality is that the terms have different meanings and refer to completely different functions within the creative and innovative process.

Creativity is the sparking of an idea – it is the birth of an idea. It is that “aha” moment when the solution to a problem suddenly comes to you – usually when you are not thinking directly of it as you are having a shower or taking a relaxing stroll! At other times, the creative idea comes from a long process of discovery such as through scientific investigation. Either way, it is still only an idea – a thought until something is done with it.

Innovation is taking that idea and doing something with it. Innovation brings the idea to life – it is when the idea is turned into something useful, something of value.

A good example that shows the separation and difference between idea generation (creativity) and doing something with the idea (innovation) is the invention of the Post-It pad. Post-it pads were created by accident at 3M. One of their scientists, Dr Spencer Silver, was working on developing a very strong adhesive when one of his attempts produced a weak adhesive instead. However, there is no such thing as failure in 3M, as they seek to learn from every experiment (that is why they are probably the most innovative company in the world). So Silver presented his results to others in the company. One of those present, Art Fry, remembered the idea five years later when he was contemplating how to keep bookmarks from falling out of his hymn book. He thought of the not-so-sticky adhesive and developed it into what we all now know as Post-it pads. Here there was a five year time gap between the idea and making something of value with it.

creativity innovation training
There is a difference between creativity and innovation

The difference between creativity and innovation has implications for how managers encourage and facilitate both in organisations. Fostering, encouraging and enabling creativity requires particular actions and measures. These are quite different to the processes and activities that are required to ensure that ideas are brought to fruition – that facilitate innovation.

Keyboard Shortcuts For You To Save Time And Increase Productivity

Time management is a crucial aspect of success in both professional and personal life.

It is important to take advantage of any time-saving techniques you can find to make life more productive.

Especially if you work in an office environment, you most likely spend most or all of your day on a computer.

Using simple shortcuts on your keyboard can help you save time as opposed to always hunting, pointing and clicking. Keyboard shortcuts can also be helpful tools to locate files that were accidentally deleted or browser windows that were unintentionally closed.

Depending upon the type of monitor you use, an Acer R240HY monitor or a Dell S2417DG, the shortcuts may be different. Therefore, this article goes over the most common and helpful shortcuts for both systems.

We will also go over some helpful keyboard shortcuts that can be used in different programs like web browsers and Microsoft Office.


Windows

  • Shift + Delete: Bypass the Recycle Bin and fully delete a file/program
  • Ctrl + Shift + N: Create a new file
  • Windows Key + D: Minimize all windows
  • Alt + F4: Close current window
  • Windows Key + F1: Get help

Mac

  • Command + W: Close a window
  • Command + Shift + ?: Get help
  • Command + Shift + 3: Take a screenshot
  • Command + Shift + T: Reopen last closed window
  • Command + Tab: Toggle between programs
  • Command + Space: Search computer with Spotlight

All Microsoft Office Programs on PC

  • Ctrl + S: Save current file
  • Ctrl + O: Open a file
  • Ctrl + C: Copy
  • Ctrl + V: Paste
  • Ctrl + A: Select all

All Microsoft Office Programs on Mac

  • Command + S: Save current file
  • Command + S: Open a file
  • Command + C: Copy
  • Command + V: Paste
  • Command + A: Select all

Word on PC

  • F7: Spellcheck
  • F4: Repeat most recent action
  • Shift + F3: Capitalization
  • Ctrl + Backspace: Delete previous word
  • Ctrl + Shift + N: Apply normal paragraph style

Word on Mac

  • F7: Spellcheck
  • Shift + F4: Repeat most recent action
  • Shift + F3: Capitalization
  • Command + Delete: Delete previous word
  • Command + Shift + M: Apply normal paragraph style

Excel on PC

  • Ctrl + N: Create new workbook
  • Shift + Space: Select entire row
  • Ctrl + Space: Select entire column
  • Ctrl + 1: Format what is currently selected
  • Shift + F11: Insert new worksheet

Excel on Mac

  • Command + N: Create new workbook
  • Shift + Space: Select entire row
  • ^ + Space: Select entire column
  • Command + 1: Format what is currently selected
  • Fn + Shift + F11: Insert new worksheet

Google Chrome on PC

  • Ctrl + T: Open new tab
  • Ctrl + Shift + T: Reopen last closed tab
  • Ctrl + D: Save bookmark
  • Ctrl + R: Refresh
  • Ctrl + L: Highlight the URL bar
  • Ctrl + F: Find something

Google Chrome on Mac

  • Command + T: Open new tab
  • Command + Shift + T: Reopen last closed tab
  • Command + D: Save bookmark
  • Command + R: Refresh
  • Command + L: Highlight the URL bar
  • Command + F: Find something

Gmail on PC

  • Ctrl + Shift + C: Add to CC recipients
  • Ctrl + Shift + B: Add to BCC recipients
  • K/J: Move to previous/next email
  • D: Compose new email
  • Tab then Enter: Send email
  • Shift + J: Mark as “read”
  • Shift + U: Mark as “unread”
  • #: Delete contact permanently
  • !: Report as spam
  • Ctrl K: Add hyperlink

Gmail on Mac

  • Command + Shift + C: Add to CC recipients
  • Command + Shift + B: Add to BCC recipients
  • K/J: Move to previous/next email
  • D: Compose new email
  • Tab then Enter: Send email
  • Shift + I: Mark as “read”
  • Shift + U: Mark as “unread”
  • #: Delete contact permanently
  • !: Report as spam
  • Command K: Add hyperlink

4 Ways To Add More Time To Your Day

While it is impossible to add more physical time to the 24-hour day or the 168-hour week, experts in time management and productivity will tell you that it is possible to add “more” to your day.

With a few simple techniques, you can spend more time on what matters and less time on what doesn’t matter, thus making the most of every day given what limited time you have. You can manufacture time, and escape the ceaseless ticking of the clock or the pressure of working under such little time.

Here are just a few simple ways that you can improve your daily productivity and time management by “adding” more hours to your day.

Organise your days

Every morning before you start working, take a step back and ask yourself what are the three main things you want to have done by the time the day is done.

Figuring out what needs to be accomplished and what the most important tasks are, will keep you from wasting time blindly responding to whatever task, no matter how unimportant or menial, comes into view.

Planning also encourages investing time in higher-yield activities and you can match the right kind of activity to the right time. For example, activities that require higher energy will best be done after you’ve had your cup of coffee or before the midday slump hits. Schedule the type of work you need to do during the times you have the most energy to do it or when you are best able to focus on it.

Control distractions

Don’t let your distractions control you, instead learn to control your distractions.

Limit and manage yourself when it comes to distractions from work. Between social media alerts, emails, and chats with co-workers, people face distractions dozens of times a day. That can really damage daily productivity, time management and also your mood/stress levels.

Instead, try pushing distractions to predictable times or to times when you know work will be slow.

Scheduling time into your calendar for email, social media, and casual co-worker interactions will give you more control and management over your time, work and distractions.

Turning off your phone or disconnecting your internet altogether are more radical, yet still effective, options.

Change your schedule

Often that the reason you want more hours in your day is because you’re too busy with work and familial obligations to tackle your own personal needs or priorities.

However, even the busiest professionals do find time for leisure and relaxation. Usually, though, this chance for kicking your feet up and winding down occurs late at night when most people are too tired to enjoy it or do anything but watch TV.

An effective solution to changing your schedule so that it’s more balanced and relaxed, is to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, giving you more time in the morning (the time when most people feel productive) to exercise, read a book, relax or just reflect.

Finding more time for yourself has its benefits when it comes to your work, as it means you will feel more energized and balanced, versus overstrung or overwhelmed. Therefore, you are more productive at work.

Work From Home

When possible, it’s good to stay home and work, as it can buy back a good amount of time for productivity and also reduce stress.

People can save an average of 50 minutes of daily commuting on the days they work for home, as well as saving the time spent on personal care.

Saving all this extra time in the morning by staying home to work every now and then means you are close to adding two hours more to your day already, and with the added bonus of reduced interruptions.

Poor Writing Dilutes Productivity And Leadership

Bad writing is more than just an annoyance.

Sure, a typo or two makes you stumble over words, pause in your reading and then shake your head at such a silly thing. However, bad writing and a lack of clear written communication can have an impact on productivity and leadership potential in the workplace.


Research

A survey by Josh Bernoff (author of Groundswell and Writing Without Bullshit) revealed that 81 percent of business professionals cite bad writing as a time-waster at the office.

During a 40-hour work week, the typical person spends 25.5 hours reading. These could be emails, reports or other material. Over the course of a year, imprecise communication and typos could cost someone several hours of work.

Here’s one scenario. Mike can’t make sense of a four-paragraph email from Jerry who could have said the same thing in two sentences. He tries calling Jerry but can’t reach him. Mike then takes the elevator down two floors to talk to Jerry in person. After a 15-minute discussion, Mike understands what Jerry intended to say.

Mike just wasted more than 15 minutes on something that could have been cleared up if Jerry’s email was succinct in the first place. Magnify this difficulty times the number of employees at a firm, and you can see where this is headed. A lack of productivity costs companies in employee time. Lower productivity, lowers profits.

Fixes

Instead of long introductions in emails, get right to the point.

Write in precise terms, and use short sentences.

Think about the main point of the email before composing it. Edit and revise the email at least twice before clicking Send.

Staff training on how to write effectively can save a lot of employee time later. Provide concrete examples and on-the-job feedback to drive the point home quickly.


Leadership and Writing

According to Josh – “Fuzzy writing allows fuzzy thinking.”

Leaders should use active voice to make their points. Otherwise, people may perceive weakness from the person if he/she cannot write in decisive terms.

Here’s a simple example. Consider the difference between “The project should be completed on time and under budget ” versus “We will finish the project in six months.” The first sentence is relatively vague, whereas the second sentence sets a clear, decisive stance.

Leaders who don’t write in direct, active language show a lack of confidence, clarity and direction. This filters down to employees who lose faith in the leader. An executive’s lack of writing ability can hurt morale, reduce productivity and increase employee turnover.


Promotions

Grammarly conducted research using LinkedIn profiles.

The grammar website found that people with proper grammar and spelling in their profiles, earned higher promotions compared to those who didn’t.

Employees who failed to reach the position of director within the first 10 years of a career had 2.5 times as many typos in their LinkedIn profiles.

Therefore, lack of writing skills can cost you career progress and income over your lifetime. So take some time to read your copy before submitting or sending anything – whether it’s an email, social profile, blog post or report.

The More You Delegate, The More You Earn

Busy professionals have to make the most of the 24 hours in every day.

Time is literally money in the business world, and whatever any professional can do to maximize earnings versus time, is well-invested effort.

One good way to accomplish better earnings, with less time invested, is by delegating.

A recent study conducted by Thomas Hubbard (Professor at Kellogg School of Management) and published in the Harvard Business Review, revealed that when individuals in supervisory positions delegated effectively, they earned 20% more (up to 50% more for top performers), than those who did not delegate.

Here are some tips, from Professor Hubbard, to take into account when you’re thinking about delegating:


Evaluate Time Constraints To See If You Need To Delegate More

Do you feel that you are constantly in a time crunch?

Could your overall outlook on work be described by the word “swamped”?

If so, then you should examine your day-to-day tasks and decide which items on your daily to-do list are the most routine. Those routine items are the tasks you want to delegate.


Don’t Try To Find Your Clone

Choosing who to delegate to, does not mean finding employees with a skill set and knowledge/understanding of the business that is similar to your own.

Keep it simple.

If a particular employee is capable enough to share even a small amount of your workload, delegate to them so you can free up your time to focus on more important matters, that only you are qualified to handle.


Invest in Processes and Resources to Streamline Delegation

When you delegate, your primary focus should be on making the most of your time and treating it like your most valuable commodity.

This means you need clear, efficient methods of handing off tasks to personnel without spending extensive time in meetings or writing e-mails reiterating instructions and expectations. It is also important to establish processes for accountability of delegated tasks that will not eat into your time.

Additionally, make sure that you are taking full advantage of tech, software, and applications that will allow you to further streamline your delegation and accountability processes through collaboration. Ultimately, your goal is to make delegation as seamless as you can without creating further work for yourself, and if there is a resource available to make this happen it is money well spent.

Scientific ways to start making better career and life decisions

Some would argue that bad decisions are a staple in our life.

The only sure thing, is that we will make mistakes; as the saying goes, “We are only human.”

Even research can prove that we make a lot of poor choices, due to various reasons such as cognitive biases. Three common areas that we often err in include our career choices, in our jobs, and in our personal lives.

So if there was a scientifically based protocol for making good decisions, wouldn’t you want to know it?


To start with, instead of gathering as much data or information about a problem, decide to define the problem first, so that you know what you are looking for in terms of a solution.

There is more to decision making than simply having more information about the choices at hand. Quality trumps quantity, as in you need to have the right info rather than simply more. For example, if a doctor is attempting to diagnose a patient, he has to look at gathering the correct scans and data rather than just inventorying the whole human body.  In fact, all that extra information can just get in the way of making an accurate and prompt diagnosis.

Dan Pink, author of several best selling books, comments on this matter, saying that one of the great advances in art and science, is spending more time defining a clear problem.  People who focus more on the problem than the solution, are more successful and go further in their careers.

After you have properly understood the problem and gathered the necessary information, the next step is a surprising one.


You’d think that the best thing would be to take all the emotion out of your decision and simply be objective, logical, and rational. However, that is not always correct.

Stanford professor Baba Shiv says that feelings are a part of making choices.  You should be calm when trying to make a good decision, but other than that, feelings can help steer you in the right direction. Moreover, engaging your emotions while mulling over your choices will often lead to making better decisions.

Empathy can be yet another tool when making sound decisions, which is particularly true for professionals that care for or help others.  Adam Grant (Professor at Wharton), mentions a study which describes what happens when a radiologist sees a photo of their patient along with their x-rays – they end up writing longer, more detailed reports and have significantly better diagnostic accuracy.

So ideally, you should use objectivity and emotions/feelings when making decisions.

But, how do you know when to be objective and when to be subjective when it comes to your decision-making process?


To improve your decision making over time, track your results.

Whenever you have to make a major decision, write down what results you anticipate.  Later on in time, compare your expectations with the actual results.  After a while, you will be able to identify, what works for you and what you are good at, and can use that information to fine-tune your approach in order to make better decisions.

Also remember, you have to know when to finally act on a choice.  Chances are whatever option you finally land at will not be 100% ideal, but you cannot let the fear of not being perfect stop you from making your choice. Usually, good enough will be your best option.  Waiting too long to make the best decision may cause you to miss some great opportunities. Try to avoid over thinking and accept the fact that the search for perfection is a fool’s errand.

In you are still stuck in a stalemate of selections, then try to think about the outside perspective; what kind of advice would you give to someone in your shoes?

And now armed with weapons to defend yourself from indecision and bad choices, go forth brave Padawan and watch how your improved decisions make your career and life even better.

Women Can Save Companies Millions by Booking Travel

Both men and women travel for business, but it’s no surprise that the two genders tend to go about that travel differently. Research conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) Solutions Group is showing a surprising trend: women tend to book business travel sooner than their male counterparts. On average, women tend to book their business travel about two days earlier than men. Earlier research suggests that this is perhaps because women tend to stress about work-related travel and unforeseen events more than men. The mindset seems to be that the earlier a trip is booked, the fewer unforeseen issues arise.

This mindset is impacting the bottom-line for companies, who see an average of two percent savings on tickets booked by female employees, after controlling for other factors. The savings average $113 per ticket without controls, and $17 after controlling for other factors like routes and class. This saving adds up over the course of the year. A large company that pays for 2,000 trips/month could save $1.1 million.

There are some key areas where the gender difference is less. First, Millennials show the least difference in advance booking time. Second, the older a traveler is, male or female, the more likely that they will book earlier – regardless of gender or reason for traveling. However, women still tend to book earlier than their male counterparts in older age groups. Third, for road warriors, travelers who book more than 20 trips per year, the male/female difference in lead time dissipates. This may be due to less time in between trips to plan far ahead. Or, it could be that constant travel leads to less stress about unforeseen events while traveling. After all, when one is traveling that much, it is inevitable that certain situations will come up and be dealt with. Once a situation has arisen and been dealt with, it is much easier to incorporate that solution into future travel plans.

Travel preferences and behaviors aren’t just about a business traveler’s convenience. These choices can add up to a large sum over the course of a career. While there is certainly more research to be done on the subject of gender in business travel, these results are an interesting view into the ways that buying habits impact corporate expenditure.

Significantly improve meetings, by getting more participation from introverts,virtual workers and women

In a perfect world, a meeting would involve participation from all the attendees. Ideas and opinions would float around freely, in order to solve problems and gain new insights.

However, this rarely happens.

In most meetings, only a small number of attendees actively contribute. Valuable ideas and contributions are frequently missed out on.

As a leader/manager you can increase the value of your meetings by using a few simple tactics, to get more participation from 3 segments of the workforce – introverts, women and remote workers.

Here are details of the tactics, which are suggested by Renee Cullinan, the Co-Founder of Stop Meeting Like ThisRenee has spent over 20 years as an organisational effectiveness consultant and envisions a world in which meetings are a place where work gets done, decisions get made, and innovations flourish.


INTROVERTS

Introverts may be quiet on the exterior, but ideas and strategies ruminate on the inside.

They need to ‘think to talk’, as opposed to extroverts, who ‘talk to think’.

As a result, introverts might not get enough time to think about what to say and gather their thoughts during a meeting.

To encourage the expression of these internal mental workings, give introverts time and space to process relevant data and organise their thoughts..

Strategies to assist introverts include:

  • Providing a purpose statement, agenda, relevant data and discussion questions to be covered to all participants before the meeting, will encourage an introvert’s best contribution.
  • Seeking an introvert’s participation during the meeting with direct, open ended questions will allow for him or her to engage in the discussion.
  • Meeting summaries and open-door policies for receiving thoughts and ideas after the discussion, will give freedom to introverts to express additional thoughts that come as a result of processing interactions.

WOMEN

Experience and studies suggest that women are more likely to be interrupted in meetings.

This practice alone leaves valuable ideas unexpressed.

Furthermore, when shared, the input of women receives less weight. In other words, the ideas of women are not always taken seriously.

Rules of simple courtesy curb these practices in meetings.

  • Eliminate interruption in general, through meeting guidelines that do not allow for talking over others.
  • Create a culture in which men and women are encouraged to “call it out” when they see someone being inadvertently silenced.
  • If necessary, pass the “talking rock” to those sharing, or go around the table to hear the input of each team member.

VIRTUAL PARTICIPANTS

Including a remote worker/team in meeting conversation seems simple in this day of technology.

However, a voice presence does not always garner the same weight in discussions as does physical presence.

People participating in meetings through a conference call, often don’t get as involved as they should/can.

  • Video conferencing assists in closing this gap to some extent. Use it whenever possible.
  • Check-in on the virtual employees a couple of times during the meeting.
  • Think about assigning someone to keep an eye on virtual participants, to keep them engaged and watch for signs that they want to contribute.

Use Ambient Music/Sounds To Create A Private Space For Productivity & Creativity

Open concept office spaces help to facilitate discussion and collaboration.

But the fact remains that independent work needs to be accomplished at the office as well and that open plan offices can be counterproductive.

Fortunately, technology provides some answers to the quandary of accomplishing focused work in a sea of chatter and movement.

One such solution plays through your headphones.

Ambient noise sites/apps whisper to your individuality and transform a public space into a private one. Ambient music/sounds can help you relax, focus and also be more creative. It can also increase your productivity.

Below are a few options to check out.


RAINYMOOD

The soothing sound of rain washes away the chatter of the office.

As a widely popular ambient noise website, Rainymood sits you next to that open window or on the back porch, as rain rushes from the sky drowning out distraction.


SIMPLYNOISE

White noise laid claim among buzzwords for years, as the sound to drown out all other sounds.

SimplyNoise takes this concept further by adding pink and brown noise.

And for those wanting a weather change, SimplyRain, a SimplyNoise website, grants your desire.


SOUNDROWN

A clean, organized web experience, Soundrown offers rain and nine other sounds, including crickets, coffee shops, fountains and kids.

Mixing of the sounds creates a personalized atmosphere to meet your workplace needs.


NATURESOUNDPLAYER

Campfire and wave sounds play among the eight feature sounds of NatureSoundPlayer.

The simple interface allows for personal sound mixing to suit your style or mood of the day.

Slip to a quiet place that calms your rat race and focuses your mind.


NOISIL

With buttons for productivity, relax or random, or for the ambivalent, Noisil addresses your situation, whether the workload needs tackled or stress holds you captive.

The presets move you to your best place quickly by creating a perfect mix for you.

Or, personalized settings allow you to tailor the experience.


COFFITIVITY

For those who work best amid the buzz of a public setting, Coffitivity offers coffee shop low sounds and chatter.

Choosing your coffee shop experience from morning to evening personalizes the atmosphere.

Claiming science backing, the sounds of this site boost creativity and productivity, caffeine-free.


CODING.FM

The sound of others quietly working inspires you to work.

This motivation brings Coding.fm and its keyboard clicks and taps to your office.

Filter out all of the noise and hear only the work being done to increase your productivity.

Work smarter – Think for a moment

You’ve probably heard it before – “Don’t work harder, work smarter.”

Working smarter does not mean doing less work or making someone else do the work for you.

It means working in ways that allow you to get more done, in a better way, with less pain.


Recently, business psychologists from Harvard, UNC, and HEC Paris have published their results from a series of productivity experiments.

In the first experiment they conducted, over 200 adults completed a brain teaser.

A group of them was then asked to immediately complete a second and third brain teaser, while a different group was asked to reflect for five minutes on the first brain teaser. A third group was asked to reflect and then write down their thoughts about the best strategy for completing the brain teaser, as if they were showing someone else how to do it.

The results showed that those who spent time reflecting after the first task did significantly better than the group who did not. It didn’t matter if they wrote down their strategies or not — simply thinking about the work they did, helped them to perform better, rather than just powering through the next task.


This same test was repeated on an entirely different batch of people. This time, the experiment was conducted with students and had very similar results.

After concluding these experiments, the researchers took this experiment into the business world. They found a tech support company in India that agreed to let them look at their new employee training methods.

The researchers split the trainees into three groups titled Control, Reflection, and Sharing. They then let the new employees proceed as they would normally, except for one thing. The Reflection and Sharing groups got to walk out of training for the last 15 minutes every day to sit and think about they had learned. The Sharing group got to write in a journal as if they were teaching someone what they just learned.

At the end of the entire training program, the employees in the Reflection and Sharing groups scored 22.8 percent higher than the Control group that did not get a chance to reflect. Also, there wasn’t much of a difference between the Reflection and Sharing groups.

The psychologists wrote, “Individuals perform significantly better on subsequent tasks when they think about what they learned from the task they completed.”

The take away is simple –  taking time to think about your experiences increases learning and supports subsequent performance.

work better career success singapore


What does this mean for us?

It means that often we wrongly equate working long hours with productivity. However, constantly working is hard work, not smart work.

You now know one quick way to work smarter and better.

The time that we spend to just sit and think is very scarce.

But, science is telling us, that just a few minutes of time to think about what we’re doing will largely increase our performance and our work abilities.

If you just put aside a short 15-20 minutes a day for reflection after some tasks, meetings, deadlines and at the end of each day, you will get a lot more done and do it better, than if you just kept going and going throughout the whole day.

Working smarter isn’t that hard — we just need to change our routines to create some space.

How to identify and use your strengths to succeed at work

If you want to succeed professionally, only trying to fix your weaknesses will not benefit you enough.

You need to use your strengths as leverage to ensure you succeed.

The field of positive psychology has studied how your strengths can benefit you at work. Research on strengths shows that the use of your strengths can lead to greater work satisfaction, engagement, and increased productivity.


We all know that strengths are something we excel at, while our weaknesses may need improvement.

However, strengths are more than skills that we do well. Strengths have the ability to energize us while we are working.

Did you ever notice yourself involved in something where you lost track of time because you were so engaged? That’s an indication that you were using your strengths.

Strengths align with your interests and values.

“Your life interests drive your character strengths and vice versa. Bring the two together and you have a recipe for success. Interests and character strengths are two natural energy resources within us,” says Dr. Ryan Niemiec, psychologist, and author of Mindfulness and Character-Strengths: A Practical Guide to Flourishing.

People who use their strengths daily are six times more likely to be engaged on the job (according to research by Gallup) and are not as prone to experience stress or anxiety.


As much as we think we know our strengths, we tend to overestimate ourselves in some areas, while underestimating ourselves in others.

To correctly identify your strengths you can use the following tools:

  1. Gallup StrengthsFinder.
  2. Values in Action Survey (VIA)
  3. Reflected Best Self Exercise.

The first two tools are self reported i.e. you provide the inputs, The third one is an exercise developed by the faculty at the University of Michigan Ross Business School. It adds the perspective of other people.

After you try one or more of these tools, also ask yourself how you can use your strengths to achieve your key goals, reinforce your values and do better at work.