20 February 2012

As Good As The Best New Blog of 2011

Shotgun Shack's bid for an unprecedented back-to-back win of the "Best New Blog" title was derailed by a surge in votes for Shana Johnson's Development Crossroads.  Shana is a unique entrant in the group as she provides advice and coaching for international aid and development professionals.

The voting* proceeded a follows:

Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like -http://stuffexpataidworkerslike.com/
World Bank Development Impact Blog -http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/
Marc Bellemare - http://marcfbellemare.com/
Development Crossroads -http://www.developmentcrossroads.com/
Evan Lieberman -http://evanlieberman.org
 Here Shana discusses how to take small victories and avoid burn out. She is working to end this problem by teaming up with the folks at Why Dev to start a peer coaching platform.
Wouldn’t we all like to be more creatively productive?  Wouldn’t all aid and international development work improve with greater creative productivity? Wouldn’t aid workers and international development professionals make a bigger impact through their work, experience greater personal satisfaction and happiness, and find themselves more motivated and less burned out? 
Sounds pretty good to me.  So how can we leverage the power of small wins to make us more creatively productive?  Here are three ways.   
1. Take time for work that matters. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of our To Do lists, the endless meetings, the grind of overflowing email inboxes.  It’s easy to becomeexhausted and overwhelmed by the bureaucratic nature of some aid work.  It’s easy to lose sight of “meaningful work,” much less make progress on it.  Amabile’s recommendation: Carve out at least 20 minutes every day to work on a project that matters the most to you.  Afterward, reflect on any progress made, and decide where to pick up again the next day.  
2. Keep a work diary where you reflect on your work, the progress you’ve made, the setbacks you’ve encountered.  You can write freestyle, or, if you prefer a bit more structure, Amabile provides a terrific template here.  I’m excited to try it. 
3. Celebrate small wins. You don’t have to break out the champagne, but at least talk about your progress.  Share your small wins with your colleagues, boss, spouse/partner, friends.
There has been a lot of discussion recently in the aid community about “admitting failure.”  While there may be value in this approach, there is also value in celebrating successes, even when they are small. 
The more we experience progress on the job, the more we will experience motivation, pride, and even joy in our work.

And now some ABBA:

*For those keeping count, there were 917 voters in total who participated. Certainly enough to make this contest the definitive** listing of the best aid blogs.

**Heavy sarcasm alert.