All posts in Friday Focus

The Dark Side of Resilience

Resilience is a highly sought-after personality trait in the modern workplace. But could too much resilience be a bad thing?


Large-scale scientific studies suggest that even adaptive competencies become maladaptive if taken to the extreme.

Indeed, scientific reviews show that most people waste an enormous amount of time persisting with unrealistic goals, a phenomenon called the “false hope syndrome.”

For example, extreme resilience could drive people to become overly persistent with unattainable goals. Although we tend to celebrate individuals who aim high or dream big, it is usually more effective to adjust one’s goals to more achievable levels, which means giving up on others.

Along the same line, too much resilience could make people overly tolerant of adversity. At work, this can translate into putting up with boring or demoralizing jobs — and particularly bad bosses — for longer than needed.


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How to Decide Which Tasks to Delegate

Wondering how to decide which tasks to delegate to your team? Conduct an audit using the six T’s!


  • Tiny:Tasks that are so small they seem inconsequential to tackle and take you out of the flow of more strategic work.
  • Tedious:Tasks that are relatively simple probably are not the best use of your time.
  • Time-Consuming:Tasks that are time-consuming and do not require you to do the initial 80% of research.
  • Teachable: Tasks that can be translated into a system and passed along, with a final check
  • Terrible At:Tasks that do not fall into your strengths.
  • Time Sensitive:Tasks that are time-sensitive but compete with other priorities.

Over the course of the next two weeks, make a note of tasks that fall under the 6 T’s above. Then watch as your mind magically start creating solutions for next steps from that new vantage point of space and self-awareness.


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The 1-Hour Weekend Activity That Will Totally Change Your Week

While the weekend is a time for relaxation, it might be wise to set aside one hour during the weekend to map out the upcoming week. Here’s the four-step approach to planning your upcoming week.
  • Review the previous week. Think of this step as performing an audit on yourself. 
  • Get all of your ideas out of your head. Empty your brain of ideas, review those ideas and pick the most valuable.
  • Input your activities onto your calendar.
  • Decide on your daily actions. Identify and commit to the actions that lead to your desired results.
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We Built Time Twister to Solve Your No Time Problem. Here’s How.

We are on a mission to solve your “No time” problem and here’s how Time Twister became one of the solutions! 


We call it Time Twister because of its core purpose of saving time. But the name is also reflective of how we “twist” work hours, well away from the norm, to bring you Time Twister as early as possible each day.

8 Time Twister team members ensure that you get the news you require, delivered to you 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


For a more details on the story of Time Twister, visit the Frontier Blog!

Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus

The ability to focus is an important driver of excellence. But can the opposite be true as well?

This week we look at how “unfocus” can help build creativity and better decision making (along with a few ways you can add unfocus to your day!):


Focused techniques such as to-do lists, timetables, and calendar reminders all help people to stay on task. The problem is that excessive focus exhausts the focus circuits in your brain. As a result, decisions are poorly thought-out, and you become less collaborative.

In keeping with recent research, both focus and unfocus are vital. The brain operates optimally when it toggles between focus and unfocus, allowing you to develop resilience, enhance creativity, and make better decisions too.

When you unfocus, you engage a brain circuit called the “default mode network.” Under the brain’s conscious radar, it activates old memories, goes back and forth between the past, present, and future, and recombines different ideas. Using this new and previously inaccessible data, you develop enhanced self-awareness and a sense of personal relevance. And you can imagine creative solutions or predict the future, thereby leading to better decision-making too.

There are many simple and effective ways to activate this circuit in the course of a day.

Using positive constructive daydreaming (PCD): PCD is a type of mind-wandering different from slipping into a daydream or guiltily rehashing worries. When you build it into your day deliberately, it can boost your creativity, strengthen your leadership ability, and also-re-energize the brain.

Taking a nap: Not all naps are the same. When your brain is in a slump, your clarity and creativity are compromised. After a 10-minute nap, studies show that you become much clearer and more alert.

Pretending to be someone else: When you’re stuck in a creative process, unfocus may also come to the rescue when you embody and live out an entirely different personality.


Using these techniques to build unfocus into our day, we may be able to “preserve focus for when we need it, and use it much more efficiently too”.

Visit the Harvard Business Review for more.

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Use a Compass Not a Map for Future Success

The future is impossible to predict with perfect accuracy. So, how do leaders forge ahead into this uncharted territory? They ditch the map and use a compass!

This week, we look at how compass leadership may be the way forward:


Before the Internet, life seemed simpler, easier to grasp. People in positions of power gave their employees check lists to complete. And they would do their job and wait for next tasks.

Nowadays, life is increasingly unpredictable and even the idea of leaders with all the right responses seems old-fashioned. This is the big question searching for answers now, “How do I participate responsibly in a system almost impossible to predict.”

The excitement of today is that anyone with an idea can make it come alive. You can create it, publish it, pitch it, without proposals or permission. And, without a lot of money. It’s the end of the MBA era and the beginning of the design innovation era.

The reason for a compass not a map is…

Maps are stationary, may be dated and causes frustration when inaccurate.
Maps provide a description; a compass provides vision and direction.
Maps can slow you down when the path is not clear.
Maps cannot show you how to get on that road not traveled.
Maps are poor indicators of what is unfamiliar.

The older command and control style of leading is about maps. It’s about going on a chosen course and staying there, no deviations.

Compass leadership is about a process of discovery. It’s about learning as you go along. It’s about more than one right path. It’s about hunches and taking chances.


“Business is complex and volatile and those who don’t read the signs of the times will be left behind”.

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A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful than an Email

Research suggests that requests made in person are more effective than those made over email. How much more effective? Well, according to this piece by Vanessa Bohns, 34 times more effective!


Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.

We found that people were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in-person as opposed to over email. These findings are consistent with previous research showing that people are more likely to comply with requests in person than over email.

Why do people think of email as being equally effective when it is so clearly not? In our studies, participants were highly attuned to their own trustworthiness and the legitimacy of the action they were asking others to take when they sent their emails. Anchored on this information, they failed to anticipate what the recipients of their emails were likely to see: an untrustworthy email asking them to click on a suspicious link.

Indeed, when we replicated our results in a second study we found the nonverbal cues requesters conveyed during a face-to-face interaction made all the difference in how people viewed the legitimacy of their requests, but requesters were oblivious to this fact.

It is often more convenient and comfortable to use text-based communication than to approach someone in-person, but if you overestimate the effectiveness of such media, you may regularly—and unknowingly—choose inferior means of influence.


If your office runs on email and text-based communication, it’s worth considering whether you could be a more effective communicator by having conversations in person.

For more, visit the Harvard Business Review.

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Do vs. Done Lists: Jot Down Your Small Wins to Amplify Success

To-Do lists are great tools for productivity, but only looking at what you have to do  can increase stress or anxiety and cloud creative thought.

The solution? Keep a done list to log what you’ve accomplished!


It’s interesting to note that according to research, having a sense of making progress with work that matters to us is the most influential factor in maximizing long-term creative output, positive emotions, and motivation. The problem is, for some of us, focusing on what’s next (for example: our to-do lists) means we skate right past our wins, no matter how big or small they are. How do we train ourselves, over time, to notice progress? We already keep a to-do list. Why not add a done list?

A done list is a log of the tasks you’ve completed. Keeping a done list has the power to fortify your motivation, and heighten positive emotions like joy and pride. When we reflect on progress, we practically metabolize it. Jot down completed tasks, and view them as “wins,” or progress towards your final goal(s), and you can externalize and recognize them.”

Keeping a done list in addition to your to-do list is a quick and simple way to increase success and well-being. How do you create these lists in a way that fits your needs? Here are some approaches to try:

  • Every Friday, set aside 10 minutes to jot down your wins for the week.
  • Keep a done list for each project you work on.
  • Encourage any teams you manage or work with to periodically discuss progress.

The done list means that we can create motivation no matter where we find ourselves or what’s happening around us.


We got this from the Evernote Blog, check them out for more!

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Why Deep Work Matters in a Distracted World

From the moment we wake in the morning, we’re tempted. Reach for the phone. Check texts. Read email.

So, how do we get anything important done? Enter “Deep Work”.


The idea of ‘deep work’ is nothing new. The term was recently coined by Cal Newport, a professor, scientist, and author of “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.” According to Newport, deep work is classified as ‘professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limits.’

“We have a growing amount of research which tells us that if you spend large portions of your day in a state of fragmented attention—where your regular workflow is constantly broken up by taking frequent breaks to just check in with social media—that this can permanently reduce your capacity for concentration,” said Newport. Much of social media is specifically built to fragment your time.

Even a quick glance at Twitter or reviewing an email has a negative impact on your ability to focus on tasks. In fact, that one quick glance costs you about 15 to 20 minutes of attention loss. Our brains are simply not wired for that level of distraction. In addition to impacting our cognitive ability to get work done, it also concerns medical professionals, who are seeing increased rates of anxiety [and] other psychological issues among college students.

Here are some tactics to integrate the principles of deep work into your schedule:

  • Work deeply.  Newport created an equation to explain the intensity required of deep work. Work accomplished = (time spent) x (intensity)

  • Protect your time. Maintain a set of rituals and routines to ease deep work into your day more easily. Try implementing scheduling tactics into your workflow.
  • Train your brain to do nothing.
  • Quit swimming upstream. Decide for yourself what restrictions you can place on email and social media.
  •  Cut the shallow work. Endless meeting requests and instant email responses are turning knowledge workers into ‘human routers’.


By understanding how to distance ourselves from distractions and improve time management, we have a better chance to dive deeper into our thinking and reach new heights of productivity.

For more like this, visit the Evernote Blog.

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What is Frontier Research?

Frontier Research is built around its founder, Amal Sanderatne’s, belief that time is our most valuable resource and his views on how to make better use of it. He believes it is essential that individuals maximise their time, in the ways that are important to them.

In another installment from our blog, we answer the question “What is Frontier Research” and explore the philosophy that drives us:


Before setting up Frontier, Amal had experienced different work environments: some very rigid, some more flexible.

There were some where the work was very exciting and he was very passionate about what he did, but it was very demanding and simply precluded the possibility of having too much of a life outside of work. There were others where he had very little actual work to do, with little motivation, clocking in a set eight hour day but with much of that time spent idle. Then there were others which were very well paid, but with very little underlying purpose to it.

The kind of work Amal  wanted was hard to find and this search for a better way to work was the core reason for setting off on his own. He aimed to craft the kind of career he wanted for himself and then later to the team that he hired.

In a nutshell, the core idea behind Frontier Research is to enable our team to engage in fulfilling work at times that are best suited for them, in a life-first work environment

“Life first” is easy to explain, and for Amal that means putting Health, Family and Friends before work. As Richard Branson said, “Great businesses are places where problems are solved and lives are improved”.

Right now with all our work, we find fulfillment by helping our clients create time in their lives by providing them the information that matters to them in less time.

Putting all of this together, we’ve come up with these belief statements to help us shape our corporate culture:

“We believe time is our most precious resource.

We believe in work that enables people to live better by using their time better.

For our team, this means enabling them to engage in fulfilling work at times that are best suited for them, in a life-first work environment.

For our clients, this means getting them the information that matters most to them in less time, through time efficient research and information services”


For more on the ‘Frontier Way’, check out our blog!

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