Apr 14, 2014

Disease of Being Busy

Increasing interest to movements like Downshifting, Slow Movement and Zen are clear indications, that people are starting to be fed up with their work and living in a busy world. There's too much work, studying, partying or whatever that makes people busy.

I've been lately visiting London and being busy and trying to be highly effective is visible there even in jogging. People run there really fast! I go for a jog there quite often and I'm always the slowest runner on the street. It shouldn't be because of my shape, since I should be in an OK shape with few triathlons done in the past years.

My personal learning from few years ago is that I'm most ineffective when I'm busy. When my calendar is full or I'm trying to tackle it all, that's the point I'm not getting much value done. I do run around doing things, but being busy and being effective are two totally different things. It's easy to be busy, and it's hard to be effective.

Once in a while I notice that I'm lacking time to do all the things I'm planning to. That's the point I get ineffective. I've got better to notice this in myself and I've learned to prioritize. I do have a mission statement written to myself and I like to read that one then, to remind myself about priorities in life and work. After reading those I do go through all my to be done things and always find something to set aside. There are always things you can leave undone and some things you can do later.

It takes courage to say no to someone. To say that I don't believe the thing you are asking from me is more important than the thing I'm working on. Specially when you have a supervisor who is asking. But this one skill, is one of the most important skill you will or will not learn during your career. The most effective people are the ones who can say no and have empty slots in their calendar.

There's also the other side of wanting to be busy. As young kids learn bad habits from older "cool kids", the same way newcomers in organizations learn to admire busyness from their more experienced peers. Being busy is disease in many of the organizations. Being busy is too often thought to be an indication of being important.

Being busy is always a selection. There might be days everyone needs to work in the busy mode, but that should be an exceptional state, not a standard way of working. Being busy is always a selection, always.

The reason why I'm worried about people being busy is that being busy affects to all of us. Busy people are unhappier and unhealthier. Organizations are less effective with busy people. It might sound an overstatement but we all lose money and affect each others happiness by being busy. We ruin our organizations and life environment with being busy. Being busy is a real disease.

I start to sound quite hippy saying all of these, but I can assure that I personal interest behind all of this: I really do hate busy unhappy people.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Apr 4, 2014

Book Review: All The Devils are Here by McLean and Nocera

For some time I've wanted to understand more about the reasons of 2008 financial crisis. I did know the basics of the housing bubble, but not much more. That's the reason I got All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera.

I was enthused to read the book. I had positive thoughts about the book and I really tried to like it. But I didn't. Book did explain why the crisis happened and introduced all the players who had played major role creating the housing bubble. The problem for me was, that the authors focused to people and companies so much that the actual problem was hidden behind all the blaming.

Authors Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera are both journalists and full time writers. This unfortunately shows in a bad way. The book would have worked in 40 separate articles, but it didn't work as long book. The full story wasn't well taken in to account with the separate twists to it.

I didn't like the blaming culture there was in the book. Most of the bankers and people mentioned in the book must have been money graving idiots, who made millions and millions with screwing others, but I don't still think blaming them gets us anywhere. This book wasn't only about blaming, it did discuss about the system a bit, but it focused too much on the individuals who had been creating the system.

I believe blaming culture actually creates the basis for the macho culture to exist. Then the macho culture creates these idiots who play the systems and create their own rules. So in a way I believe these kind of books doesn't solve the problem, but actually are part of the system that cause them.

Maybe it was my fault, that I didn't understand the book from the title. It really talks about the devils, not about global systems that created the devils. Still the book I would like to read, would search to understand the system. This wasn't the book I was hoping for.

I do believe there are people who like these kind of books. They are the people who like blaming others, I don't. I don't recommend this book to anyone. I didn't like it and I found it quite boring to read.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen