OG Tuesday Issue #186

The Assist Newsletter
April 15, 2024
TA Positive Affirmation

Today’s checklist: 

  • Learn how to direct your attention
  • Build lasting confidence
  • TA reader, Mia, shares advice on making mistakes

🤔 Riddle me this: I am taken from a mine, shut up in a wooden case from which I am never released, yet I am used by almost every person. What am I? (Find the answer on the bottom).


⬆️ Upskilling: In 2024 and beyond, these 7 skills could help you earn more money and land more jobs.

👀 Inclusion: Lookism is real and needs to stop going unaddressed.

🔎 Job Search: Is applying to 80+ jobs and hearing nothing the new normal for recent grads?

💫 Purpose: Identify your life’s purpose without spiraling into an existential crisis.

🔮 Future-Proofing: Employers love it when you demonstrate this timeless trait.


TA Newsletter graphics

Your attention span — explained by science


Dr. Gloria Mark, a psychologist who studies human mood and attention, recently compiled some of her most consequential findings from decades of research in the book on human attention: Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity.

Here are some practical tips she revealed during an interview with Talks at Google:

1. Optimize your cognitive resources with “rote attention” breaks.

Multitasking and task switching drain your brain, but intentionally switching from a hard task to an easy task for a quick break can rejuvenate your cognitive resources.

Imagine you’re working on something that requires deep thought and sustained focus, writing a grant, for example.

When you notice your thoughts becoming forced and sluggish, take a break — but don’t check your inbox or social feeds.

Switch to a rote attention activity instead.

Rote attention activities are easy, even effortless, activities that also fully engage your mind.

They’re calming and restorative.


  • Knitting
  • Completing a puzzle
  • Tossing a ball
  • Ironing
  • Cooking

2. Strengthen your attention regulation by practicing meta awareness.

Dr. Mark personally practices meta awareness, the process of mindfully checking in on what we’re doing in the moment and also why we’re doing it.

This matters because of all the things we tend to do automatically, such as compulsively reaching for our phones.

Continuing with this example, you might practice meta awareness as follows:

(Noticing the phone in your hand is the cue to pause for a moment.)

  • Why did you pick up your phone? (What activity do you plan to engage in? Emails, texts, doom-scrolling?)
  • What made you seek out this distraction? Some common motivators include:
    • Feeling bored or unengaged
    • Avoiding a more difficult task
    • Feeling frustrated
    • Craving a quick break

3. Use forethought to direct your attention in more productive ways.

To practice forethought, simply visualize how your present actions affect your future self.


If you keep scrolling through these articles, then you might wake up tomorrow with a mean case of tech neck.

If you check your notifications now, then you might be tempted to respond. That might take hours and keep you from meeting your 4 PM deadline.

4. Struggling with chronic task-switching? Imagine your brain as a whiteboard.

Imagine your thoughts existing as words written on a physical whiteboard.

Each time you switch tasks, says Dr. Mark, it’s like you’re erasing everything on your whiteboard.

Doing that throughout the day is the same as constantly erasing and rewriting, erasing and rewriting.

Take a step back and look at your whiteboard.

You might notice all this erasing and rewriting has left a grayish residue on your board.

This represents your mental clarity after a day of task switching.

Everything is a bit blurrier than it might be.



Make your team feel valued


At the last company I worked for, we used Bonusly — it was a simple platform, but it got everyone pumped.

People felt a sense of pride whenever they got points and recognition, so they went above and beyond.

Using Bonusly in a nutshell: You get a set amount of points each month (in my case it was 100 pts) that you can award to anyone in the company accompanied with a message.

What I personally loved about Bonusly:

  • Your points don’t roll over so it encourages you to use them before they expire; you celebrate your team’s wins, big and small
  • The feed is public so everyone (including C-suite) can see how awesome you are
  • Points can be redeemed for rewards (I always redeemed mine for cash and bought flights to Cabo once!)
  • Set up is a breeze & easily scalable; our company grew to 1,000+ employees, and the plans were easy to switch as we grew.

Plus — Bonusly just started offering free trial so you can try it out yourself with all the bells & whistles for 14 days.

Joanna (Co-Founder of TA)


Get comfortable. Get confident.


One TA Subscriber wants to connect with their confident side:

Scared of clients asking me a question and I won’t know the answer to or how to respond effectively. I feel my clients expect me to be the expert yet I feel ignorant.

Mark Manson (author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck) made a name for himself by publishing helpful, honest advice without even a paper-thin sugar coating to help it all go down.

His blog post on confidence stays true to form.

He’ll tell you that to be more confident, you must become comfortable with the fear behind your lack of confidence.

So if you’re worried about answering client questions inadequately or incorrectly, then your path to confidence lies in becoming comfortable with that risk.

This advice might feel topsy-turvy.

Shouldn’t you believe you can always give the right answer?

Nope. Because that’s unattainable.

It could drive you to overthink every question to the point that you’re too mentally paralyzed to provide any answer.

(Imagine your life if you’d gone to school only on the days you weren’t worried about embarrassing yourself.)

Being comfortable with the idea of answering questions less than perfectly is critical because it keeps you answering questions.

You’ll provide some answers you don’t love, and each time you do that, the fear of doing so — and the worry that doing so defines you — will decrease (and you’ll also learn a lot).

People who are confident in business are confident because they’re comfortable with failure,” Manson says.

“They realize that failure is simply part of learning how their market works. It’s a reflection of their lack of knowledge, not a reflection of who they are as a person.”

If you have time for some more in-depth confidence instruction, you might want to check out this free on-demand class: Finding Your Professional Voice (offered by the University of London).

It seems like a great fit for your needs!


monday.com to do list

Plan Your Work Week Better


If you’re a visual person and want to upgrade your to-do list, check out monday.com.

It’s perfect for anyone who is struggling to…

  • Prioritize tasks
  • Fight overwhelm due to the amount of projects flying around
  • Keep teammates on the same page
  • Manage time throughout the work day

You can customize your space, color code, set deadlines, collaborate with teammates, and more.

Like any tool, we suggest you try it out for yourself to see if it covers all the bases.

💡Get started here for free.


What’s the best career advice you’ve received?


Mia C.
⭐️ Want to be featured? Share your best career advice here.


Stuff we’re loving this week


🤔 1 in 10 women have Endometriosis. Are you informed? Causifi shares fast facts, stories from women with the disease, plus tips for getting the help you need at work for #endowarriors.

🤖 One of the best ways to reclaim your time is by setting up automations for any recurring tasks. If you’re new to automations, Zapier has a bunch of integrations and documentation to help you along the way. Plus it’s free until you use up your monthly “zaps”.

📝 We’ve all seen those “This could have been an email” memes, but if you’re actually thinking this on a regular basis, it might be time to implement something like this free Meeting Agenda Template with your team.

✅ This to-do list notepad makes planning your day more enjoyable (and comes with stickers!). Kick your day off with one thing you’re grateful for, list your to-dos, and crush your day.


work meme


Before you go…


Answer to the riddle.

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