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How Setting 'Anti-Goals' Can Keep Work From Being Miserable

By Oliver Staley // Quartz // August 18, 2017

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If you’re lucky, you have a job you love. But even if you do—and particularly if you do not—there will be elements about it you hate. Be it awful bosses, obnoxious coworkers, or brutal commutes, almost everyone’s workday has elements they can do without.

One strategy for improving the work experience is to identify the aspects you least like about it, and deliberately avoid them. By creating a list of “anti-goals,” you can develop strategies for eliminating them from your life, Andrew Wilkinson, a tech entrepreneur, wrote on Medium.

Wilkinson, founder of startups MetaLab and Flow, said he was inspired by Charlie Munger, the business partner of Warren Buffett, who talks about inversion, or reversing problems to solve them. “A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.,” Munger said at an investors meeting in 2000.

Or as Buffett said, “Charlie and I have not learned how to solve difficult business problems. What we have learned is to avoid them.”

Wilkinson and his business partner Chris Sparling mapped out what their worst possible day might look like. The anti-goals included:

  1. Full of long...

Constant Anxiety Won't Save the World

By Julie Beck // The Atlantic // August 17, 2017

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When New York Magazine published a story about the apocalyptic dangers of climate change last month, it was shared widely, and with alarm. People tweeted things like “Read this and get very, very scared,” or otherwise prescribed fear and worry as the appropriate reaction to the piece. They were mimicking the tone of the story itself, which starts by saying “It is, I promise, worse than you think,” and goes on to avow that “no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough.”

This weirdly suggests that there is a level of alarmed that would be “enough.” Enough for what? Even if the goal is to alarm people into action, there’s a disconnect here: Anxiety is not a necessary prerequisite for action.

My colleague Robinson Meyer questioned how realistic the extremely bleak outlook of the article is—but I’m concerned not with its specific take on the climate science, but with its explicit call for anxiety, and the calls for anxiety it inspired among people who shared it. While the intentions might be good, moralizing worry distracts from the real goal by turning people’s attention inward to their own emotional states, rather than outward...

Big Changes Are Coming to Microsoft Outlook

By Caitlin Fairchild // August 10, 2017

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Outlook users, rejoice! Microsoft recently launched a beta version of their email service. If you're using Outlook currently, keep an eye out for some big changes, as well as some fun new details.

Most importantly, Microsoft says they are "implementing a more responsive web development framework." For the user, this means a better search interface (so you can actually find what you're looking for) as well as a conversational style inbox, which is useful for keeping track of long message threads.

Microsoft

The new search interface will feature photo aggregation, so every photo either sent or received can be found in one place. Users will also be able to mark their favorite contacts and folders, making them easier to find during a search.

Another new feature is Quick Suggestions. As you type an email, useful information about specific topics can pop up, like information about local restaurants and shops or the details of an upcoming flight.

Microsoft

Microsoft will also be incorporating emojis and gifs, which is bound to make every inbox a lot more colorful.

If you're interested in trying out this new version in advance, watch out for a "Try the Beta" button to appear...

Completing This 30-Minute Exercise Makes Teams Less Anxious and More Productive

By Leah Fessler // Quartz // August 10, 2017

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Here’s a funny thing about work: We spend more time with our colleagues than with our friends and family. Yet more often than not, we don’t really understand our co-workers—because being honest with one another is scary.

When a teammate’s lack of organization annoys us, we vent to others. When a boss says “this is fine” (not “this is great”), we wallow in anxiety. Many of us figure out our colleagues’ personalities, preferences, and dislikes through trial and error, not through explicit conversation.

This strikes me as a colossal waste of time, productivity, and happiness. Ignoring these issues just leads to confusion and frustration, and, in time, can wind up threatening your job performance (and your paycheck).

Thankfully, there’s a tool that every team can use to bypass workplace miscommunications and angst, helping to amp up every employee’s potential and morale from day one. It’s called a user manual.

Meet the “user manual”

In 2013, Ivar Kroghrud, co-founder, former CEO, and lead strategist at the software company QuestBack, spoke with Adam Bryant at the New York Times about his leadership style. Kroghrud revealed that he had developed a one-page “user manual” so people...

A Former Facebook Product Manager on the Key to Solving Hard Decisions Quickly

By Corinne Purtill // Quartz // August 9, 2017

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Rousseau Kazi became a product manager at Facebook in 2011 at the age of 19, while still an undergraduate at the University of California-Berkeley. He recently left Facebook to work on a new, unannounced project, and reflected on his career on the podcast “Modest Conversations” with Sam Lessin, an entrepreneur who is also a former product manager at Facebook.

The conversation turned to the subject of difficult decisions, where Kazi shared one of the most striking lessons from his six years at the company: the hardest discussions don’t have to be the most time-consuming ones.

“I used to think, ‘Oh man, being able to make the hard decisions is going to take all this time. It’s going to take hours and hours and hours, and weeks and weeks,’” Kazi said. “Over the career, I figured out that hard decisions are hard, but they can be quite time efficient. They’re not actually that hard to make.”

The key, Kazi realized, was getting all parties to realize just how much they agreed upon already. By his estimate, people tasked with solving difficult problems are already roughly 80% aligned in their thinking by the time they get to the table...