New Year resolutions are very personal. But discussions with colleagues have proven useful in refining mine in the past. So let me share some on my work list. For the past years, they’ve focused on improving productivity. The main productivity disturbances at my end come from emails and meetings. They suck up time and maintain a reactive mode. For email management, Owen Barder’s “Take control of your email in 2013” has been a super useful guide. It takes time to set up the whole triage system, and then some willingness to turn off Outlook several times a day, but it is worth the investment. For optimizing the work day, I borrowed a lot from Shane Parrish’ ”How to be insanely more productive” seminar. Four main tips: (i) plan creative work in the morning, keep reactive work for the afternoon [yes, that means don’t start the day with the email backlog]; (ii) work in chunks, schedule them in your calendar, and try to apply the no-email/no-meeting rule to at least one time-period; (iii) before leaving the office, write down the 2-3 key deliverables for the next day; and (iv) “say no” [probably the hardest part]. At a less mundane level, I have enjoyed Maria Popova’s “16 elevating resolutions for 2016 inspired by some of humanity’s greatest minds”, even though her selection suffers a serious Western bias.
The 2016 World Development Report “Digital dividends” is out. I only read the 45-page executive summary but the message is clear: despite the rapid spread of the internet and mobile phones, and the many individual success stories, digital technologies have not delivered the expected positive development outcomes in particular for the poorest. Where positive business environments, good education systems and accountable institutions are present, digital technologies can help enhance growth and foster inclusion and innovation. Where this “analog foundation” is absent, they won’t and can even exacerbate inequalities. This aligns with previous arguments made about technology acting as an amplifier of pre-existing good or bad policies. So most recommendations proposed by the World Bank are not technology-specific, they are about providing some development basics.
My graph this week is from the World Economic Forum’s “Global Risks Report 2016”. It shows that the top estimated risks this year are environment- and migration-related. Inequalities which were at the top of the WEF list in previous years do not feature prominently this time around.
My quote of the week is from George Lucas in a recent Charlie Rose interview [9’02”]:
Rose: “Because you have worn all these hats: film-maker, director, story-teller, writer, technological innovator, what do you want the first line of your obituary to say?”
Lucas: “That I was a great dad.”