Explain Your Work Capacity To Your Boss

future-proofing-your-design-team-Calculate-your-capacity-by-David-Lesue_791x437We are all expected to do more. Do you struggle to explain to your boss what you are doing and how much capacity you have for those last minute, must do tasks?

Here is a simple model to explain your capacity to your those assigning you work. It is from a video presentation called “Future-Proofing Your Design Team: Three Lessons from an Overnight Rebrand (S5285)” by David Lesue at the Adobe Max conference in October 2015.

How Much Work Can You Do?

Do the math to calculate your capacity.  The formula is,

  1. number of team members
    x
  2. the number of hours planned worked per work per team member
    x
  3. focus percentage

The first part is easy and is the size of your team.  In our example, we assume 3 people.

The second part represents the number of hour per week you can realistically work on planned stuff.  Over time you get better at estimating how much extra work you have to do each week that is unplanned.  You want this as low as possible but be realistic for your situation. In our example, we assume 30 hours of planned work and 10 hours of work that is dropped on us that we must get done this week.

The third part represent the focus or quality percentage.  This means what else is going on that week – is there a holiday or event, or something else (Blue Jays’ playoff run) that could impact the team?  In our example, we assume a 90% focus.

The capacity of the team is 3 people x 30 hours planned x 90% focus = 81 hours planned work.

Overtime we get better a estimating the time it takes to do our work. Now you can use your estimates to layout what you are working on, across all assignments.  As your estimates of planned work improves, you can have more confidence showing how the next big, must do, unexpected task requires something else to slip.  Something has to give.

You will likely experience push back on your estimates and approach but persevere – it will be well worth it.

The entire video can be see on the Adobe Max site in the Sessions on Demand section.

Books Worth Reading from TED Speakers 2014

If you enjoy TED talks, take a look at their books worth reading list for 2014 by Thu-Huong Ha.

I was surprised by the effectiveness of checklist in making changes in behaviour stick as described by Dr. Atul Gawande in The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

Here are some of my favorites.

Happiness

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008
Recommended by: Susan Cain (TED Talk: The power of introverts)
“This book illuminates the kind of life we should all be living. Csikszentmihalyi argues that one of the highest states of being is the state of flow — when you’re totally engaged in an activity, riding the narrow channel between boredom and anxiety. I talk about this book a lot, and try to live by it even more.”
See more of Susan Cain’s favorite books.

Math and stats

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t, by Nate Silver
The Penguin Press HC, 2012
Recommended by: Nic Marks (TED Talk: The Happy Planet Index)
“If you are a statistician, or use statistics in your work, then this is an outstanding book you should read.”
See more of Nic Marks’ favorite books.

Medicine

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande
Picador, 2011
Recommended by: Brian Goldman (TED Talk: Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that?)
The Checklist Manifesto is Gawande’s bestselling book about medical errors that come from not knowing enough and errors that come from not doing the right thing. The book is essential reading for people who want to understand why health care is not as safe as it could be and how to change that.”
See more of Brian Goldman’s favorite books.

Mind and brain

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Recommended by: Alex Laskey (TED Talk: How behavioral science can lower your energy bill)
“Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who gave the TED Talk ‘The riddle of experience vs. memory,’ explores how behavioral economics and cognitive biases influence our everyday decision making.”
See more of Alex Laskey’s favorite books.

Work

Give and Take, by Adam Grant
Penguin Books, 2014
Recommended by: Shawn Achor (TED Talk: The happy secret to better work)
“This Wharton professor shows how giving at work can lead to greater happiness and success.”
See more of Shawn Achor’s favorite books.

Thrive, by Arianna Huffington
Harmony Books, 2014
Recommended by: Andy Puddicombe (TED Talk: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes)
“This book covers mindfulness in quite some detail, but also looks at the wider impact of our addiction to technology, overly active minds and increasingly busy lives. It offers some excellent commentary on mindfulness, along with some very sound advice.”
See more of Andy Puddicombe’s favorite books.

The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle
Arrow Books, 2010
Recommended by: Dan Pink (TED Talk: The puzzle of motivation)
“A savvy and snappy compilation of some of the best research on talent. I’ve given away more than a dozen copies of this one — including to my own kids.”
See more of Dan Pink’s favorite books.

Check out the full list at Books worth reading from ideas.ted.com.

Sleep Helps Detoxify the Brain – Journal Science

Sleep_Pedrosimoes7Animal research indicates that the brain uses sleep to remove metabolic waste products, including those linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as reported in the journal Science. Sleep is vital and the data keeps coming in to back it up.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center used advanced imaging technology to examine the brains of mice during sleep. They found that brain cells contract significantly during sleep, expanding the area between cells by as much as 60 percent. This increase in the space between cells enables greater flow of cerebrospinal fluid, increasing the removal of beta-amyloid proteins. The accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain is believed to be a primary contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a leading cause of dementia in the elderly.

Read the summary at Swanson Health Products, Sleep Helps Detoxify the Brain. or read the source summary from the journal Science (Lulu X, Hongyi K, et al. Sleep Drives Metabolic Clearance from the Adult Brain. Science. 2013 October; 342 (6156):373-377. doi: 10.1126/science.1241224.)

[Image source: Flickr: Above, feature]

Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression – NYTimes.com

A student demonstrating equipment at Colleen Carney’s sleep lab at Ryerson University. Curing insomnia for people with depression could double their chances of a full recovery according to new scientific research.

The new report, from a team at Ryerson University in Toronto, found that 87 percent of patients who resolved their insomnia in four biweekly talk therapy sessions also saw their depression symptoms dissolve after eight weeks of treatment, either with an antidepressant drug or a placebo pill — almost twice the rate of those who could not shake their insomnia.

Full-blown insomnia is more serious than the sleep problems most people occasionally have. To qualify for a diagnosis, people must have endured at least a month of chronic sleep loss that has caused problems at work, at home or in important relationships.

The therapy that Dr. Manber, Dr. Carney and the other researchers are using is called cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I for short. The therapist teaches people to establish a regular wake-up time and stick to it; get out of bed during waking periods; avoid eating, reading, watching TV or similar activities in bed; and eliminate daytime napping.

Read the entire article at the NYTimes.com, Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression, published November 18, 2013.

[Image from Flickr: Carlos Martz]