"Get into it!” -- How to drive progress by improving moment-by-moment engagement
This course has nine lessons, and the second lesson is in the column to the right -->
You can use these links for navigation through the course:
Lesson 1 - Inner and outer games, progress, and engagement
Lesson 2 - Sorting Cards into Books for Time
Lesson 3 - Card sorting for time, second series
Lesson 4 - What guarantees peak productivity and well-being at the same time?
Lesson 5 - Monitoring real-time engagement to Improve Emotional Intelligence
Lesson 6 - General four-step approach to accomplishment, creativity, and change
Lesson 7 - What is the zone of peak experience and performance?
Lesson 8 - Build an Engagement playing field
Lesson 9 - The range of our participation
Lesson 2 - Sorting Cards into books for time
Questions for Lessons 2 and 3:
A Lab Exercise: Sorting Cards into Books for Time
As a way of exploring the opportunities in our 'inner game' of work, we can experiment with a mock work situation, and see what might be holding us back from peak performance--optimal productivity, quality, and satisfaction while doing a task. Many of our inner, self-imposed obstacles can show up. (Note: Inner game refers to the mental aspect of life, and is a term used by Timothy W. Gallwey in his "Inner Game" series of books)
This is also a great mini-lab to investigate the source of time pressure, to see how engagement relates to pressure, and to see whether physical speed is independent of our feeling of time passing.
First series of three trials
Get a regular book of playing cards, and shuffle them. Use a stopwatch or the second hand of a clock or watch to see how many seconds it takes to sort all the cards. When you begin, you sort the cards into books—groups of deuces, threes, fours, and so on. Try to do it in less than 60 seconds, which is the 'deadline'. In this first trial, just try to correctly sort the two decks of cards as fast as you can without racing against time.
Get ready, set, go! . . .
After you finish, make some notes about your experience and any insights.
As you sorted, what was your experience? What kept you from performing better? What was the quality and depth of your involvement, or engagement? Here, involvement and engagement are defined and measured by the degree to which one is fully preoccupied or experientially absorbed in whatever is at hand.
Could you work like that all day long? If not, why? Were there any timeless 'spots'? Did you notice any images or pressure of a deadline closing in on you? Does ambition help, or can it even cause you to 'waste time'?
Repeat the card sorting two more times (for a total of three) and record your times.
Try to improve your time, but more importantly, see what you learn. What holds you back from better performance?
Excerpt from Results in No Time
To help better understand what happened during your card sorting, read the following excerpt from the E-Book Results in No Time in which a man named Jed leads the card sorting exercise for his friend Michael.
Jed shuffled the cards a couple of times and handed them to Michael. “Ok.
Ready, set, go!”
Michael started steadily and deliberately, putting cards on the table. Then he gradually picked up the pace, still moving quite smoothly.
“Fifteen seconds!” Jed announced.
“What? Already?” Michael said as his eyes bugged a bit. He felt anxious, as time was felt to be a limited resource. His eyes darted quickly back and forth, comparing the stacks to the cards in his hand.
“Unbelievable!” Michael was feeling pressured, and wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to finish in a minute. He moved jerkily as he estimated whether he had finished half the cards in 30 seconds. He concluded that he hadn’t finished half.
Michael didn’t think he’d make it, so he tried to hurry a bit more. Then his sorting hand fumbled when he tried to pick up the next card from the deck. That broke his rhythm, and he seemed to be a little confused. He thought he’d have to race to beat the clock now.
“Bummer.” Michael groaned, but kept sorting. As he sorted the last few cards, he slowed down as if coasting toward a finish line.
“About seventy seconds,” said Jed.
“That was awful.”
“Really stressful, eh? It looked like you were racing against time.”
Jed picked up the cards and shuffled them. “How did that happen?”
“I guess I panicked when you said fifteen seconds. I was doing fine till then, no problem with time. But you startled me. The linear view of time snapped into my mind, and I was struggling against the flow of time from then on.”
“But you seemed to be doing all right till later.”
“Yeah. After thirty seconds, I figured out that at that rate I wouldn’t finish in time, so I tried to hurry up. And that just made things worse.”
“With that kind of race-against-time perspective you might be able to force yourself and get a good time or two. But if you had to work like that all day long, I think it would eventually affect your health and well-being.”
“Yeah,” said Michael. “By the end of one day I’d be wiped out.”
“I guess that shows how racing against time doesn’t work very well. You can’t win, because racing has side-effects.” (Results in No Time, pp. 60-63)