There’s an antidote to jealousy

I grew up a terribly jealous child, and I’m glad that it’s something I’ve found an anecdote to as an adult (there are happily far fewer tears over ballet trophies now). I put jealousy and generosity on the opposite ends of a scale, and I have found you can shift yourself to generosity either by effort or conscious choice.

The point of wanting to practice generosity is that ‘like attracts like’, and it’s hell of a lot more fun to be around generous people than jealous ones. Also, when you can be generous with others, you can be generous with yourself, and then failure isn’t such a big deal. I’ve found that loving the process (and not just the outcome) suddenly makes sense when I’m not constantly comparing myself. And strangely, when I love the process, the outcome is better in the end!

Getting to generosity by effort:

When you get to a place where you are working hard enough that you can appreciate the boundaries of your talent and time, you often find yourself able to praise and promote others. Because there’s no shame in knowing your limits after finding them, and there’s so much to appreciate about those who can go further. There’s no losing in that scenario – sometimes disappointment that you’re not the best – but always pride in your effort.

Getting to generosity by choice:

And when you are jealous and judgemental, there’s a lot of valuable information in there. What is it that you feel you could be good at, but aren’t making the effort to explore? Why are you feeling like you are in a zero sum game and someone else’s success is damaging you? When you can answer those questions, you’re well on your way to a better place.

Here’s the craziest thing of all – sometimes the answer to my jealousy question is letting go of ‘fantasy Sarah’ and the crazy ideas I have about how ‘fantasy Sarah’ should be living her life.

That’s where the choice comes in – if this is something that’s for ‘fantasy Sarah’ – can I let it go and be happy for others to pursue it? Because if the answer is yes, I can consciously choose to let this thing go, and what do you know, I swing back into generosity, because “good for them, it’s not necessarily something I would value and invest the time and effort in, but they certainly do, and look at them go for it!”

And if I can’t let it go, then it’s time to get to work (revert to option 1).

What this means for everyone

Well, I think this boils down to one thing – people may find themselves to be jealous and critical (it’s just one of those mosquito emotions), but it’s a choice to stay that way. There’s a certain freedom and dull responsibility when there’s always a choice, isn’t there?

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Visual Management: A personal portable kanban

I love productivity systems and personal organisation hacks. Getting Things Done is a personal fave that I once got really into. And as I learn about things like Agile and Lean, I am happily ferreting out nuggets from lots of systems.

So here’s what my life looks like: a plastic folder by Aqua Drops. It’s my ‘work bible’ and is a great idea I picked up from a Kikki K workshop. Now, I’m not always a huge fan of Kikki K’s ‘dream big’ kind of fluff, but the workshops are phenomenal.


In my plastic folder there are plastic sleeves and paper – the rings easily click open and I can arrange things as I need. I keep things like quick references to teleconference numbers and the IT helpdesk number (the stuff that I don’t need, until my computer isn’t working and then I desperately need it). Also, if I’m travelling, I pop things like tickets and hotel details in there.

Inside the folder, I also carry my personal notebook (for doodles and ideas), and my Master To-Do List (where I write everything that I have promised to do). The idea for a Master T0-Do List is something that’s quite central to the Getting Things Done philosophy, where they believe your mind is often unable to focus because it’s trying to remember everything you’ve got to do. By putting it all down on the list, you’re able to trust things won’t be forgotten and get on with doing stuff. I have to say, I’m a huge believer in this, and my Master To-Do List is a big comfort.

However, I have started working in one of those high-volume roles that means I need to keep track of multiple small projects throughout the day. There aren’t particularly a bunch of tasks I need to write in the Master To-Do List, because often I’ve sent out work and I’m waiting for it to come back, or it’s all just routine stuff that isn’t particularly a ‘to-do list’ item. My challenge has been how to keep my eye on all of the projects so nothing falls off the radar.

So in the back of the folder, I’ve now pasted in a personal kanban. Here’s what the whole folder looks like when I’ve got it open on my desk:


And here’s what the full kanban looks like when I turn to the back page of the folder:


The kanban is something I’ve stolen from the Lean/Agile world, and is a quick way to visualise all of the work that’s on the go. Every time a new project comes up, I write a few details on the sticky note, and it lands on my board.

The flow is (from top right hand corner):

Focus – what I’m working on right now (which can be surprisingly helpful when I get interrupted, and can quickly pick up my train of thought – it’s like the answer to my question “now where was I?”)

Today – what I need to touch on today (it’s a great indicator of my capacity for the day)

This week – what’s active, but might not be top priority for today, but I need to keep it on my radar in case it crops up today and still keep working on it

Ice box – everything else that is current and active, but that I don’t need to work on at this moment

Done – closed off, gold star, pat on the back, trophy cabinet, look at all the awesome work you’ve done!

It’s been in action for a couple of weeks now, and it’s working like a treat. My only problem is space, because those squares have filled up with sticky notes very quickly! I’m also working on how to capture all the info I need (i.e. deadlines) without visually cluttering the sticky notes. My aim is to be able to tell my next task, my most urgent items and my capacity, in one glance.

Don’t be fooled though, although I desperately need a certain level of organisation to feel that I am functioning, I am in no way an organisation freak. As of right now, my gmail inbox has 8,855 unread emails… so let’s say I’m happy to let some things slide.

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