Dr. Ron Friedman is an award-winning social psychologist who specializes in human motivation. In his career, he has served as a professor, author, media contributor, and consultant. He also served as my productivity coach as I transitioned into my role as vice president of wellbeing at Brighton Jones. I worked with Ron for six months, coming away from each of our sessions with tips that on the surface seemed small, yet were incredibly impactful when put into practice. Spoiler alert: the hard part is the ‘put into practice” part. Like any new habit, it takes repetition, tenacity, and the willingness to “begin again” when you drift away from your routine. I find it very helpful to listen to this episode whenever I feel like I’m going through a patch of inefficiency in my work.
Early on in my career, I worked as an equity research analyst at a large firm. The role allowed me to join intimate investor sessions with CEOs of major Fortune 500 companies. One of my favorite questions to ask was how many hours of “real work” they felt they got done in a day. What fascinated me was that the answer was shockingly consistent across industries, personality types, and even continents: five hours. Five hours of work each day, despite the actual hours in the office often being two to three times that number. Incredible, right?
For this reason and so many others, I’m excited for you to hear Ron’s ideas on wellbeing at work. I hope that they will have as positive an impact on your life as they have on mine.
Manisha’s Top Takeaways
- Having close friends at work makes us better at what we do.
Ron highlights three benefits of close friends. First, when we are less worried about fitting in and what people think of us, we can focus our energy on our actual work. Second, close friends are more likely to pull you aside and give you a heads up if you are—or are about to—make a mistake. Lastly, the trust that those friendships are built on makes us more likely to ask for help. [5:20]
- Not all hours are equal in terms of your energy levels and ability to be productive.
While all people are different, one thing we all share is that there are certain hours of the day when we are most productive. Once you can organize your schedule such that your most important work is done during those time frames, you can make the most of your most productive and efficient hours. [7:50 and 13:30]
- Not working is not the same as recovering and peak performers are committed to recovery time.
Interestingly, for someone who studies productivity, Ron says that it’s about 50 percent of the day that he’s productive. But it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. In a normal 10-hour day, energy fluctuations are going to keep you from being productive during that full span. Aligning your expectations with that reality and understanding that it’s not dependent upon total hours in the office can be a game-changer. [8:45 and 15:15]
Other Major Topics
- The three things we all need to be happy at work (hint: they all start with the letter “C”). [4:20]
- Ron’s formula for an optimal peak performance workday [15:50]
- What my mother had to say about the role of money in her life as a Ph.D./academic, and her advice to me about money and success as I approach my 49th birthday [23:00] and a special bonus piece of advice that you won’t want to miss! [29:45]
Resources Cited in the Episode
- Ron Friedman’s ignite80 website and email newsletter sign-up
- Ron’s book, The Best Places to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace
- Highlights from Ron’s presentations
- Information on the Eisenhower Matrix
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
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