FOOD, FIREWORKS, AND AMERICAN VALUES
CREATE STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE WORK PERFORMANCE Every professional has those moments when they can’t seem to focus. No one means to waste time at their job, but it’s often a struggle to climb that hill when you have no motivation to do so. To get your work done, you need to come up with strategies that prevent you from wasting precious time in your workday. The repeat test is a great tool to see where you waste time in a day. Using a spreadsheet, make a column of numbers representing the hours of the day that you are awake. Your column may start at 6 a.m. and go as late as 11 p.m. After you have created the first column, create a second column that is considerably wider than the first. At the top of every hour, stop for 1 minute and consider how you spent the last hour. Jot down your notes in the second column next to the appropriate hour. You might write, “Department meeting accomplished very little. Twenty people in one room is too many.” Using this test is a great way to improve your own performance. If you noted that an hour was wasted, you have specific notes as to why. Use your notes to make changes in your routine so that you can create strategies that allow you to be productive.
Every American child is taught that we celebrate Independence Day to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Like all traditions, the celebrations that accompany the Fourth can seem like a matter of course, but they have a fascinating historical origin. One of our founding fathers, John Adams, envisioned what the celebration would look like even before the document had officially been ratified. On July 3, 1776, he wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, where he described celebrations “with pomp and parade, with [shows], games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” It was only one year later that the first Fourth of July fireworks display was held in Philadelphia. Once the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, Independence Day began as a holiday in many parts of the country. Around this time, fireworks also became commercially available all over the young nation. In addition to fireworks, another integral part of Fourth of July celebrations is, without question, the food. From hot dogs and hamburgers to watermelon, there’s no better day to enjoy some all- American fare. And there’s no food more American than barbecue. Barbecue has been a Fourth tradition, especially in the South, for over a century. The Fourth of July, though, isn’t just about food and festivities. It’s also a day to remember the ideals our country was created to embody. Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, certainly felt that the holiday was a time to reflect on these values. In the last letter he ever wrote, from his home at Monticello on June 24, 1826, he advocated that annual celebrations “forever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them.”
The technique of evaluating productivity and committing to change is not new, but it has yet to gain popularity. In 2013, Harvard Business Review researchers asked 15 business executives to make themselves more productive by thinking consciously about how they spend their time. Each executive was able to dramatically increase their productivity by cutting desk work by an average of 6 hours a week and meeting time by an average of 2 hours a week. One executive, Lotta Laitinen, a manager at If, evaluated her time and chose to abandon meetings and administrative tasks in order to spend more time supporting her team. It led to a 5 percent increase in sales by her unit over a three-week period! Try the Repeat Test for a few days to see how it feels for you. At the very least, you will gain immediate insight into the ways that you use your time. If you keep at it, the test will give you a valuable record of how you spent your week, month, or year.
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