The pickle jar theory of time management

If you occasionally find yourself busy at work with lots of tasks but feel you are getting nothing done try thinking of your day as a jar with … pickles in it. Even though this article mixes its metaphors (it talks about pickles then goes on to talk about “big rocks”) it offers a really interesting technique to visualise your work day, in this case as a jar, and prioritize your day, by filling it with the biggest tasks first. Email can wait.

Design research #3: Don’t ask why

While I was a student  I worked in retail. At one store we were encouraged (forgive me if you hate sales assistants) to ask open questions to invite conversation. It’s harder that it sounds. Years later while being trained in user research we were encouraged to ask why. Not only why, but as many whys as we could … and you know why … to get to the root cause, that deep fundamental driver of behaviour. Of course this too is not as easy as it sounds. Unless you’re a charming 5 year old asking why can sound pretty obnoxious and being asked why can make anyone feel quite defensive. I’m guessing advice like this has its roots in the famous 5 Whys, which I take to be a tool of analysis, not a script. If you disagree with anything here, or have more to add please say so in the comments.

Telecommuting – the future ain’t what it used to be

Productivity versus collaboration. Isolation versus distraction. The pros and cons of working from home and “telecommuting” were making the rounds last week with articles about Google and Yahoo policies. Google, despite enabling its users to collaborate remotely doesn’t favour the practise itself. The positions of these companies on the matter are summarised by Asher Moses and Ben Grubb with some additional research facts, stats and links. Here’s a sample: