The List #21

Time for the first the first The List of 2015. As usual, here are a handful of links from across the internet that caught my eye over the past week (or in this case, the past several weeks). If you ever come across something you think I'd like, feel free to send me an email or connect with me on Twitter (@samspurlin).

Re: New Wired Offices - The Awl

This memo shows what leaders putting aesthetic personal preference ahead of employee needs for doing great work looks like. My already low expectations for Wired are dropping lower.

Something Slightly Less Terrible - objc.io

Interviewer: Do you mostly focus on one project at a time, or are you a multitasker?

Loren Brichter: I’d describe my work schedule as cooperatively single-threaded with a heavy context switch cost, so I try to keep time slices on the order of about a week. So I have lots of projects going at once that usually relate to each other in some way, but I only consciously work on one at a time.

I can’t consciously multitask at all, but I think my brain works a bit like libdispatch. The subconscious can chew on a lot of stuff in parallel. So when my conscious mind switches back to some other work it put aside earlier, there are usually a couple good ideas waiting for it.

The Pleasure of Practicing: A Musician's Assuring Account of Creative Homecoming and Overcoming Impostor Syndrome - Brain Pickings

Together this pleasure in music and the discipline of practice engage in an endless tussle, a kind of romance. The sense of joy justifies the labor; the labor, I hope, leads to joy. This, at least, is the bargain I quietly make with myself each morning as I sit down. If I just do my work, then pleasure, mastery will follow. Even the greatest artists must make the same bargain.

Your Best Work - Rands in Repose

In the past five years, the teams I’ve seen work at impressive speed are the ones who self-organized themselves elsewhere. They found a dark corner of the building, they cleared out a large conference room, or they found an unused floor of a building and made it their own. While this might strike you as a case for shared common open space, it’s not. It’s an argument for common space that is not shared because these teams have work to do and don’t want a constant set of irrelevant interruptions. This is why I’m in favor of pod-like set-ups where teams working on similar technology and projects have their own enclosed space. I believe this is the type of set-up that encourages the most efficient forms of collaboration.

The Ultimate Construction of Conversation & How Do You Know When That Itch Has Been Scratched? - The File Drawer

Eric and I are starting to get much more comfortable with who we are and what we're creating with our podcast. These are two of our latest episodes and I'd love if you checked them out (and subscribed to the podcast if you enjoy what you hear)

Photo by Julie Rae Powers

The List #19

I hope all the American readers out there had a great Thanksgiving and all the non-American readers out there had a great end of November. I come to you bearing a gift for your weekend relaxation -- The List #19!

I Was Looking Forward to Gummy Bears - The File Drawer

Shameless self-promotion. Episode three of my podcast with classmate/BFF Eric Middleton is out. Pretty good episode minus our newb status with getting our microphones setup correctly. We just recorded episode four today and I think we've finally ironed out all our mic issues. Now you can say you listened to us back when we were clueless, or something.

The Habits of Highly Productive Writers - The Chronicle of Higher Education

I aspire to be a highly productive writer and this article is better than many I've read recently offering advice for being just that. It's tailored toward academics but I think mostly applies to anyone trying to do something with the written word.

This 15 Minute-Activity Will Make You More Successful at Work - Business Insider

I'll save you the suspense and tell you the 15 minute activity is writing at the end of the workday. I'm working on a chapter along with some classmates about metacognition (thinking about thinking) and leadership development. As part of my research for the chapter I came across a study that showed students who kept a learning journal over the course of a semester learned more than their classmates who did not. I think this is probably a similar thing that's going on here.

Zen and the Art of Cubicle Living - The Atlantic

Interesting to see what organizations are doing to push forward the art and science of workspace design. I think it's fairly obvious there is no best design and the best workplaces of the future will have a variety of different types of spaces available for the various types of work to be done and then personalities of the people doing that work.

Photo by Mario Acosta Garcia

The List #17

This week I'm sharing a few of my favorite new podcasts and websites that I've added to my information rotation. It's pretty rare for me to actually add (and keep) a new podcast into my listening routine and it's almost as rare for me to add a new website to my RSS reader so I figured the fact that these have made the cut is worth a mention.

Dive into these over the weekend and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

1. Hello Internet

Not only has this podcast broke into the ranks of my regularly listened to shows, it has cracked the top 3 in terms of my all-time favorite shows. The "two dudes talking" genre of podcast is quickly becoming my favorite style and the two dudes talking in this podcast don't disappoint. They're both professional YouTubers (they make videos for a living -- not something root-related) and have great rapport. It helps that one of the guy, CGP Grey, appears to be my personality doppelgänger in a disturbing number of ways.

2. Slate's Working

It has been a big couple of weeks for new and excellent podcasts. This one features an interview with someone from a different profession every week about the details of what they do all day. I absolutely love hearing about the daily routines and habits of people in professions that I know nothing about. Start with the episode about the pastor -- it's great stuff.

3. ISO50

Tycho creates some of my favorite electronic music and it's safe to say his tunes have driven much of my work over the past couple of years. This is his music and design blog where I've stumbled across more visually and auditory beautiful pieces of art than I can believe. Throw this in your RSS reader and you'll be dripped enough great instrumental electronic music over time to keep all your productivity playlists fresh and interesting. Case in point, I've listened to this song obsessively since first seeing it on this blog.

4. 5 Intriguing Things

I unsubscribe from 95% of the email newsletters I subscribe to. This one has made the cut. Basically Alexis Madrigal emails you a list of 5 links with short summaries on an incredibly broad set of topics. The underlying feature is that they are somehow intriguing. I would say I probably add 1-2 items to my Instapaper queue from this newsletter every day. Not a bad hit rate, really.

I'm not bold enough to place this in the actual list, but I've recently started a podcast called The File Drawer and if you like psychology and/or the "two dudes talking" genre of podcast then I'd love if you checked it out. The first episode is published and we are going to be releasing on a weekly schedule.

Photo by Nicholas Lundgaard

Announcing The File Drawer: A Podcast

Just a quick update to announce the release of a podcast I'm co-hosting called The File Drawer. It's largely the brainchild of my classmate/colleague, Eric Middleton. We're both psychology Ph.D students and we thought getting together and having a weekly conversation revolving (loosely) around our shared interest in human behavior would be a good idea.

While it's not exclusively about the topics I write about at The Workologist discussions about meaningful work, productivity, and my other interests will definitely make an appearance. For example, in the first episode we spend some time talking about my research on self-leadership and independent workers, the power of having a certain type of mindset, and what "the self" actually is. 

The first episode is recorded, published, and you should be able to find it in iTunes or your podcast player of choice right now. You can follow along at thefiledrawer.audio as well.

I'm excited to learn more about how to more effectively share my ideas in this new medium and I hope you'll give us a shot in joining your roster of podcasts.

Weekend Reading #8

It's Friday so you know that means it's time for some Weekend Reading (and in this case Listening and Watching) goodness. Every week I like to share a couple of my favorite pieces of media from the last few days. Let's get to it!

How to Take Control of Your Indie Work Career - Sam Spurlin on en*theos

I hope you can forgive the self-promotion inherent in my first link. en*theos is a company that is all about optimal living. They asked me to write an article and record a class for them awhile ago and it's now live! In it I share my top 10 ideas around improving work when you work for yourself. I then riff on these ideas via video for a little over thirty minutes. I start a little nervous but I think I hit my stride a few minutes in. Anyway, you can get a 10-day free trial to check out the enirety of the site and after that it's $9.95 per month. It's kind of like Netflix for personal development. Pretty neat, right?

The History of Rome - A podcast by Mike Duncan

This is an old podcast I was just introduced to thanks to a starter pack in the new podcast app, Overcast. Mike does an awesome job breaking up the history into bite-sized chunks that are easy to take in during little breaks throughout my day. I've always been a huge history fan but I never really learned as much about ancient Rome as I should have. This podcast is helping fix that. And considering there are well over 100 episodes I think I'll be occupied for awhile.

Oyster - "Netflix for books"

I recently did a one month free trial of Oyster (thanks for the nudge Robyn!) and decided to actually pay for the service once the trial ended. A true rarity for me when it comes to entertainment outlets. Anyway, I've been pretty impressed by the available library and very impressed by the iPad app. I'm currently reading Michel de Montaigne's "Essays" as well as the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson (I'm in some kind of weird essay mood, I guess). Anyway, I highly recommend the service as well as both of those books.

A Band Called Death

This is an excellent documentary about an all-black punk band from Detroit in the early 70's. It's a story about a band well ahead of its time, falling into obscurity, and then suddenly rocketing to critical acclaim nearly 40 years after recording a single album. Perhaps I'm biased because of my Michigan/Detroit connection, but I thought it was definitely worth my time. It's available in lots of different places online (I caught it on Netflix).

What have you been up to this week? Read/watch/listen to anything good?

Photo by Melanie