I left Yahoo in early July and started a company called Gigwalk which is still stealthish. In the past few months I have been incredibly productive and it got me thinking as we grow Gigwalk beyond the three founders how can I maintain this same level of productivity. These are some of my initial ideas:
1.) Schedule Me Time.
Each week schedule a minimum of:
- 8 hours to deal with customer (we have two sets of customers at Gigwalk) issues. At most large companies product managers and engineers get too far away from the customer –by scheduling time with customers it helps you avoid this issue. Even Steve Jobs answers customer emails.
- 3 hours to write. The process of writing clarifies thinking.
- 3 hours to vet new ideas — drawing and coding prototypes.
- 2 hours to with work new technologies and services — get to know things far beyond their buzz words.
2.) Be a Closer.
- Close email threads down. Provide or produce a piece of information that closes the thread down. Don’t engage in the back and forth of an email thread unless you are actively working towards closing it down. [This is a Tom Chi trick I subscribe to]
3.) Meetings of Last Resort.
- Try to accomplish as much as possible via email — asychrnonous conversations tend to yield far more thoughtfulness and insight than real-time conversations. Sometimes (complex issues or personal issues) face to face meetings are more productive — if so see the next rule:
4.) Schedule Small meetings:
- In any meeting with over 5 people 25% of the conversation becomes useless or worse sows confusion into the conversation.
- Schedule either very short (15 minutes) or very long (1.5 hrs) meetings. I find that issues either get resolved in 15 minutes or require a good 1.5 hrs where people come prepared to discuss a set of issues and brainstorm solutions.
5.) Skip Weekly Meetings without a Published Agenda
- Staff meeting without an agenda are a huge waste of time. Skip it and demand that the organizer publish an agenda with each 15 minute increment accounted for.
- Schedule bi-weekly staff meeting but make them a bit longer. The act of pulling together 10 or 20 people is costlier than the 45 minute the meeting is scheduled for; instead of a weekly 45 minute meeting make it a one hour meeting every two weeks.
Even though this is supposed to be a list of five I cannot possibly leave this one off the list: hire carefully. Bad hires are a productivity drain.