Part III: The 30 Hour Work Week

Agility permeates everything we do. When we are working on building software we use the Agile methodology to support our amazing developers and deliver a spectacular experience and end product to our business stakeholders. We are agile with our time as well. While we plan out the work for each day sometimes things happen that disrupt that plan (client emergency, new opportunity, barfing kids) we pivot and create a new plan on the fly. What underpins all of the ways we are agile is the way we have trained our brains to be agile as well.

By nature, your brain is an agile organ. Your thoughts shift and transform second by second. As kids, your agility was outstanding and often appeared unreasonable to the adults in the room. As we grow up our brains become less agile, more rigid and less tempted to stray outside the lines of conventional wisdom. This is a real shame. If 8 year-olds ruled the world I think we would be in much better shape.

Unfortunately (and I mean that) society doesn’t think 8 year-olds are ready to take on complex problems or responsibility. So for us adults, if we don’t lean on them to help us make the tough decisions of the world then let’s at least try to learn from how they think so we can make decisions more like they would.

An agile 8 year-old brain does the following really well:

  • releases pressure

  • forgets painful or hurtful situations quickly

  • doesn’t take things personally

  • ignores things they don’t like to do

  • fails quickly and moves on

Imagine if you could go through your work day like that! Releasing the burden of failure and the pressure to always do better. Ignoring the barriers in front of you and just skipping over them, not even worrying about how to manage them. Messing something up and just forgetting about that feeling of failure or rejection in all of 10 seconds, not letting that experience weigh you down the next time you try. Imagine how much work you would get done! How much less time it would take you to do the things you need to do.

If you’ve let your brain become less and less like your 8 year-old self it’s going to take some time to get it back on track. There are professionals like Dr.¬†Jordan Amadio, founder of NeuroLaunch (the leading accelerator program for neuroscience start-ups) who apply neuroscientific theories to improving innovative thinking. Experts like Sarah Prevette who founded The Future Design School which focuses on helping teachers and students learn through experiences and inspire creative thinking and innovation. It will take some effort, but there are resources out there that will help you undo the years of rigidity your brain has been subjected to. Check out this amazing site, Neuro Nation. It has games! For adults! That make you smarter because they help you remember what it’s like to be a kid!

If nothing else, grab a pad of sticky notes and write ‘what would an 8 year old do?’ on it and stick it on your computer.

And every time you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious or like you’ve failed look at that sticky note and think about how an 8 year old thinks and how you can think like them. Let your brain become agile, just for that moment, until you can move on quickly and get on with your day.

Forget thinking like an adult, we cause our own messes. Think like an 8 year-old and get more done.