By Jill Schlesinger
The first half of the year is over and I don't know about you, but I am exhausted! As I prepared for a much-needed week off, I thought back on some recent interviews I conducted with guests who inspired me. Three seem apt, as I prepared for vacation.
Cal Newport, author of "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World," continues to tackle difficult questions. In his earlier book, "Deep Work," he wrote about learning how to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.
His newest project was an outgrowth of that project. He found that while work issues distracted many, there was something bigger at play: a noisy digital world was impeding progress and causing unhappiness. The combination of the smartphone, its apps and our obsessive urges are preventing us from getting lost in a good book, a home improvement project and enjoying friends and family without feeling the need to document the experience.
Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationships to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude.
If you have tried to turn off notifications or limit your email check-ins to a set period each day, you may have felt like those actions don't go far enough to take back control of your technological life. Newport's book helped me discover a more thoughtful and purposeful method to decide what tools to use, for what purposes, and under what conditions.
The key is to learn how technology can support your goals and values, rather than letting it control you, and Newport's book is a welcome guide to doing so.
The other author who came to mind as I was looking forward to time off was Daniel H. Pink. In his book "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing," Pink shows us that timing is really a science. Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink shows us how to use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule.
He also tackles larger issues, like the ideal time to quit a job, switch careers or get married. Pink's practical takeaways provide compelling insights into how we can live richer, more engaged lives.
Finally, if you are seeking a new way to see your workplace, check out "Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World" by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Besides the delicious title, the authors shed light on something that many of you may feel: There are some big lies, distortions and faulty assumptions that we encounter every time we show up for work.
If you want to get past the lies and discover what's real, there are no shortcuts; you will need to recognize the power and beauty of our individual uniqueness.
The authors reveal the essential truths that freethinking leaders and workers will recognize immediately: that it is the strength and cohesiveness of your team, not your company's culture, that matter most; that we should focus less on top-down planning and more on giving our people reliable, real-time intelligence; that rather than trying to align people's goals we should strive to align people's sense of purpose and meaning; that people don't want constant feedback, they want helpful attention.
"Nine Lies About Work" reveals the few core truths that will help you show just how valuable you are to those who truly rely on you, and vice versa.
Jill Schlesinger, CFP is a business analyst for CBS News.