Spotlight on Women: A Conversation with Dr. Jennifer Aaker on How to Increase Productivity, Performance, and Happiness
Fiera Capital’s second Spotlight on Women event convened women from the San Francisco financial community to connect over a discussion led by Dr. Jennifer Aaker, behavioral psychologist, author, and the General Atlantic Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, on how to increase productivity, performance, and happiness. Radiance Chapman, Senior Vice President, Strategic Marketing and Communication, speaks to Dr. Aaker about her takeaways and actionable tips to bring about changes in our own lives.
What inspired you to research the psychology of time, money and happiness?
Dr. Aaker: For as long as I can remember, I have always had an obsession with how to spend time – particularly in ways that cultivate true happiness. A big piece of that is due to my parents, who use time in incredibly creative, productive and generous ways. Another big reason is a gap I identified in research. Although a substantial amount of research has examined the link between money and happiness, far less work has examined the link between time and happiness.
When it comes to time management, what are some tactics that I should consider?
Dr. Aaker: Think less about “time management” and more about how to use time with intent. The key isn’t to focus on managing this resource but being more aware of how you are currently using it, understanding your short and long-term goals and then aligning how you spend time with those goals in the future. There are two key tactics to consider: first, we find that people prioritize the urgent tasks first before tackling important goals. By auditing your calendar and carving out a window of time every day to focus on your important goals, you can honor your commitments to your top priorities despite various to do’s that need to be accomplished. Second, figuring out what you are incompetent at is equally as important as figuring out your strengths! It’s essential to identify your weaknesses and develop a plan to increase efficiency or to outsource or delegate these tasks.
What is your advice on ways to improve my efficiency at the office and in my personal time?
Dr. Aaker: Rather than thinking of improving your efficiency, you might consider expanding time. Simple steps help, like identifying your most productive hours and protecting them by blocking off an hour in those productive windows two to three times a week and tracking how you progress on your goals. On the flipside, you should also identify your least productive hours and rethink them. You don’t want to find yourself “wasting” these hours but rather finding ways to spend time on the right activities such as exercise, meditation, connecting with an energizing friend or family member.
What is one recommendation you’d make for women at the workplace who are struggling to balance time?
Dr. Aaker: One tool is to learn how to use multipliers (not to be confused with multi-tasking). What we find is that when people perceive goals to be in conflict — being a good parent or partner as well as excelling at work, or being an athlete but also a volunteer – the ensuing anxiety makes them feel short on time, which affects how they spend that time. Using multipliers is a technique that reframes your goals to identify activities that meet multiple identity goals. By thinking of multipliers – i.e. activities that can be combined such as bringing a friend on your hike, or have a walking meeting with a colleague that you are mentoring – we are able to make our time more meaningful.
About Spotlight on Women
Spotlight on Women is an event series hosted by Fiera Capital, which is dedicated to promoting diversity and female leadership at the firm and across the asset management industry. Each Spotlight on Women event features a discussion surrounding topical issues and challenges impacting women at the workplace.
Learn more about Fiera Capital’s female leadership: