Random Observation/Comment #617: Don’t just work hard – work smart.
Why this List?
I got the nickname “Clembot” from Harrison a few weeks after joining R3. Since working at ConsenSys, the name has carried over. I multi-task, type notes quickly, and sometimes just Get Sh!t Done before people ask for it. I wouldn’t be able to be this efficiently without a series of systems and optimizations I’ve implemented in my personal and professional life.
- Do a daily and weekly check-in with yourself on short-term and mid-term goals. You can’t work well without knowing what you’re working on.
- Be delivery oriented with your tasks and think about who it will help benefit.
- Write down your tasks. Don’t just repeat a list to yourself and waste brain power.
- Use a task tool that works for you. I personally have a whiteboard in front of my computer and I use Google Keep for everything else since it has a nice front-and-center view on my mobile home screen.
- For immediate tasks on your desktop, use a browser window for a task and a tab for the supporting material. Try to close windows throughout the day to clear your important views. If you have an extra monitor, you can store those windows in smaller tiles so your screen real estate clears up.
- Write the DRAFT email for completing the work before completing it. This lets you do a summary of your task to make sure you’ve covered all items you need to deliver. I often use my DRAFT folder as my to-do list as well.
- Schedule time on your own work and personal calendar to do deep work (2-3 hours to get into the zone).
- Try not to accept meetings during Friday afternoons or Monday mornings. Save these times for your personal assessment and review of the week for important tasks.
- Figure out your best working and focused environment. Does it include headphones? Background smooth jazz music? Are you at home in your room? Are you in a coffee shop? Are you wearing shoes?
- Digitally split your work and personal life. Create a separate login if you have to or use the different chrome sign-ins so you’re not distracted by other projects.
- Prioritize your de-stressing/de-coupling habits. If going to the gym or playing table tennis helps with separating you from your work to-do list then schedule time for it. This can sometimes be a motivation to complete tasks more urgently in order to make time (so you don’t feel guilty or buried for doing enjoyable things).
- Don’t check your email or slack as the first thing you do when you start the day. I only put notifications for urgent direct messages. I normally work on attaining Inbox Zero or Slack Unread Messages Zero during lunch or commuting.
- Continue to optimize your routines. I never do the same rote task twice if I can create a template or life macro.
- Identify specifically when you’ll need help on a task. We are all individually contributing, but it takes a team to complete a project. Be humble and utilize your resource pool effectively.
- Find out what tasks can be delegated. This is one of the hardest things to do for me, but extremely important as you want to focus on your strengths.
- Order your tasks based on the urgency and importance matrix. Realistically, this is a filter that just says “I’ll work on this later” or “I need to do these 3 things by the end of the day. No excuses” or “this should take 5 minutes, so I can do it now.”
- Check your calendar for upcoming meetings that you MUST prep for (these would be urgent). If you’re unprepared for a meeting, you’re not just wasting your own time, but you’re also wasting group time.
- Assign yourself a project manager to keep you accountable. The annoying ones that guilt you into completing your tasks are actually best as they care most about the success and trajectory of the project.
- Set your own hard realistic deadlines with radical accountability to your own goals. Share these with a trusted circle in order to give it an audience and show continuous progress.
- Don’t forget to schedule a vacation. In new working environments with infinite vacation days, employees tend to take fewer days off. Mandatory work annual leaves (5 business days without checking email) are actually quite nice and necessary for employee health and morale.
- Use Pocket or another tool for “read later”. I personally use Pocket because it has an easy chrome extension and falls into the “Share” mobile integration.
- When using your phone, gravitate towards “read later” rather than playing mobile games (although there’s also value in disconnecting and playing a mindless game).
- Unsubscribe often (or use another email address all together). Yes, it’s only one swipe to archive, but attention is a limited resource and distractions disrupt rhythmic concentration.
- Manage your social media life with one channel. Use IFTTT to setup triggers to post to multiple sites. Setup usually takes 15 minutes and helps you schedule all tweets, grams, FB posts, LinkedIn activities, pins, etc within one consistent UX. This is work related because personal brand is extremely important.
- Use your email labels properly. I don’t think you need to go crazy and label or folder everything since search has gotten so much better, but it’s always been helpful to get tags on “Travel”, “Donations”, and “Accounts.”
- Find time to help your coworkers. While you shouldn’t be doing other people’s work more than your own, there’s a larger impact of helping others and building a brand of friendliness that’s core to being a good team player. Be careful as this does impact your own responsibilities and it’s easy to get sucked into interesting things (thereby losing focus on your own OKRs).
- Practice speed reading and skimming. You have no idea how much time this saves in the bigger picture.
- Make sure you’re not the bottleneck. Operationally solve for all bottlenecks by investing in hiring, education, and delegation.
- Write your talking points in the notes section for all slides. You’ll probably still present them, but it’s a good step to get others comfortable with the content.
- Take a power nap or go for a quick walk. Especially when I run out of energy while working from home, it makes a big difference to take a short physical break. Grab a drink of water. Eat a piece of fruit. Text a loved one you love them.
~See Lemons Productive