Small wins

Somebody raised up one of the swings so it’s high enough off the ground for a grown-up to swing on without their feet dragging! One of the best places I’ve found for strategic or career thinking is on a swing….

Huh. #work #efficiency

M., who was once a new grad reporting to me and with whom I’m still in touch as an interesting person to talk to, just sent me this article:

I can still remember how mad I was, freshman year of high school, when my Spanish-class teacher wouldn’t give me an A. I’d gotten A’s on (a statistically appropriate number of) the tests, so I figured I deserved an A in the class. The teacher was adamant: no A for me. I’d skipped (a whole lot of) the homework.

Who was this teacher, I thought, to insist I do busywork that was clearly unnecessary to learn the material?! Hadn’t I proved I was right?!*

Looking back, I’m pretty sure the teacher was just young and immature, and maybe didn’t want to set himself up for dealing with a whole class full of argumentative would-be homework-skippers.

Looking back, I’m proud I went right on skipping the homework. B’s be damned. I knew I was right.

Looking back, I’m also really, really, really grateful to my parents for supporting me in this. Talk about ways to be fortunate in life – parental support in figuring the ROI on any given effort at a young age has paid off I-don’t-even-know-how-immensely in happiness. Thanks, Mom & Dad. Thanks.


* Clearly, I haven’t changed much.

A January Experiment: Focused Deep Work

Late in November of last year, I took on some new responsibilities at work. My team grew. My role grew. The amount of stuff I’m responsible for grew.

I’m going to have to do some things differently.

So in January, I’m going to experiment.

First, I overhauled my schedule so that I can have a solid block of focused work time each day, mostly first thing in the morning. Making this happen took an amazing (to me, anyway) two hours of focused effort on overhauling my calendar – but while I was at it, I also built in three visits to the gym, two long walks, and a preset day to work from the San Francisco office. This is all weekly, so it gives me a lot more predictability, and I feel good about having that work time to look forward to.

Second, over time I’ve gradually reduced my own multitasking. If I’m in a meeting, I don’t take my laptop, just a notebook and pen. This reduces the temptation to check email, especially because…

Third, I’ve turned off all email and chat notifications on my phone. I’ve also decided not to check email until after my daily focused work time.

So that’s January! I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I’m hoping that in combination, these changes will lead me to get more thoughtful work done, at a greater level of depth, while feeling less scattered.

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