“[E]very hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing.”—
Sara Robinson in her popular Salon piece makes the case for the 40 hour work week, and it’s hard not to nod in agreement to the guideline of “eight for work, eight for sleep and eight for what we will.”
Are you nodding too? What about you, hard-working entrepreneurs?
“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.”—Laura Vanderkam puts your perception of how busy you are in poignant, new light - WSJ, Are You As Busy As You Think?
“I was once asked: if an organization could teach only one thing to its employees, what single thing would have the most impact? My answer was immediate and clear: teach people how to learn. How to look at their past behavior, figure out what worked, and repeat it while admitting honestly what didn’t and change it.”—
A strategic advisor to CEOs and leadership teams, Peter Bregman writes that the most impactful thing that an organization can do for employees is to teach people how to learn by spending a few minutes reflecting at the end of the day.
As our iDoneThis users already know, there is indeed efficiency in slowing down!
“We have a fucked-up perception of time. We count hours but discount how they’re spread out. It’s binge-learning and it’s no way to grow.”—
Check out writer and designer Jack Cheng’s great piece from a couple years back, Thirty Minutes a Day on the best way to learn something new.
Cheng mentions the same Seinfeld calendar productivity trick that helped spark the creation of iDoneThis, pointing out that “When trying to develop a new skill, the most important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.”
We’re here to help you record your 30 minutes a day!
Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals and co-author of Rework, found that when people wanted to get stuff done, their answer was rarely the office but instead someplace where they wouldn’t encounter externally imposed distractions.
What’s perhaps most insightful about Fried’s 2010 TEDxMidwest talk is his comparison of work to sleep when thinking about why stretches of uninterrupted time are important. This sleep comparison is applicable to your productivity no matter what work situation you’re in — whether you’re studying for school, writing a novel, working at a small start-up, for a large company, or for yourself.
"[S]leep and work are phase-based, or stage-based, events. So sleep is about sleep phases, or stages … There’s five of them, and in order to get to the really deep ones, the really meaningful ones, you have to go through the early ones. And if you’re interrupted while you’re going through the early ones … you don’t just pick up where you left off… .
You’ve got to go through these phases and stuff, and if you’re interrupted, you don’t sleep well… . Why do we expect people to work well if they’re being interrupted all day at the office? … .
Giving someone for hours of interrupted time is the best gift you can give anybody at work.”
How Sourceninja Gets an Extra 7 Hours of Productivity Every Week
We went through AngelPad with the guys at Sourceninja, so we’re proud that they’re one of our oldest and most loyal customers. Sourceninja is worry-free open source management made simple.
One of the first lessons of AngelPad that the founder Thomas Korte impressed upon us was to maximize every minute of every meeting, because time spent in meetings has a multiplier effect. Every meeting costs the number of minutes it takes multiplied by the number of people in the meeting.
For the Sourceninja team, this used to mean 20 minute standups for their four-member team on a daily basis. 20 minutes five days a week for four people multiplies out to close to 7 hours per week spent in their daily standup.
The guys at Sourceninja love iDoneThis because it’s a time-saving tool. Instead of spending time in meetings, they’re getting stuff done. Brett, one of Sourceninja’s founders, told me that iDoneThis is “the easiest method I’ve found to have open communication in a team.”
That means a lot to us because Brett and his co-founder Matt have been around the block. They worked together at PGP, a startup, and stayed together through PGP’s acquisition by Symantec, the largest maker of computer security software. They’ve gone through many different companies’ attempts at solving the hard problem of communication: how do you stay focused and communicate what you’re doing? Besides standups, they’ve used wikis, sat in other kinds of meetings, and written weekly email rollups.
iDoneThis succeeds where other methods have failed because it gives visibility into the entire company and provides a record of everything that’s getting done, but it doesn’t force people to waste time listening to information that’s irrelevant to them. They’ve used those extra 7 man hours every week to make incredible progress—like with the Heroku add-on that’s launching soon—toward building an awesome product that makes open source easy to manage and rely upon.
I’m a huge fan of the folks at Code Academy because they’re builders, and on top of that, their mission is to empower others to create. It makes perfect sense then that after they heard about the concept of Google snippets, their first instinct was the build the product themselves. They went from the thought, “man, I wish there was an app for that,” straight into action.
Code Academy is a rapidly growing company, and that means that it becomes more and more difficult to get perspective on the company as a whole. Individuals within the company add tons of value every day, but with limited information of those accomplishments, it can be difficult to realize that value and get comfortable on how to move forward.
In some companies, that means that an individual’s daily wins can go unacknowledged and the company’s decision making amounts to guesswork. I’m reminded of what artist Tom Sachs has said: “Half of your job in this studio is doing your work, the other half of your job is communicating that it’s been done.”
To fill this need, the team spent a day rolling their own solution, but the next day, Code Academy CEO Neal Sales-Griffin did a little bit of googling and found iDoneThis. We’re especially flattered, knowing full well the Code Academy team’s ability to create awesome software, that they found that iDoneThis was “exactly what they needed.”
After using us for a few weeks, Neal described the impact of getting his team’s daily status updates in stark terms. He put it simply: “I sleep better at night.”
The toughest part of doing a startup is the emotional roller coaster. When you have a great team that gets stuff done like the guys at Code Academy do, then daily status updates turn into an affirmation and celebration of the team’s progress. Just as Code Academy exists to help people create, we exist to help companies create — and we’re thrilled to help them work toward their vision as a cohesive team.
Watch Shawn Achor’s entertaining, thought-provoking TEDxBloomington talk on the power of positive psychology.
The author of The Happiness Advantage and CEO of Good Think Inc., a research and consulting firm, points out that the common understanding that happiness as the last thing to happen after success achieved by working hard has the order all wrong.
Instead, raising the level of positivity in the present creates a happiness advantage that results in better, more productive performance. In fact, 75% of job successes are predicted by optimism levels, an environment of social support, and ability to frame stress as a challenge rather than a roadblock.
Achor recommends daily practices to rewire your brain to get on a positivity track, including journaling and acts of kindness that spread positivity to others.
Use iDoneThis to help you set up your pattern of productivity!
We want to know: what are your favorite productivity boosters? Drinking eight glasses of water? Listening to classical music? Turning off the internet? Chair yoga?
What little things help you get more done?
Our interview with Matthew Stibbe veered into tea-related territory, which wasn’t included in our profile. We wanted to share his take on why tea works for his productivity and his greatest tea-related tips:
Coffee doesn’t work very well for me. I saw a lovely poster in New York. It said, “coffee lets you do stupid things faster,” and that’s exactly what it does for me. I redouble my efforts in the wrong direction.
Tea, on the other hand, is a more reflective drink for my biochemistry. It puts me into a much more grounded place. The act of making a cup of tea is a very good way of giving myself a break between tasks. When I occasionally get to try the Pomodoro Technique, a cup of tea is the perfect thing to do in the gap between two bursts of work.
Two tea-related things that have changed my life in the last couple of years:
1. I bought a little travel kettle and I put it on my bedside table, and I’ve got a little tin of leaf tea, my teabags and a mug. In the morning, all I have to do is reach out, put the kettle on, and I can make myself a cup of tea in bed to wake up. It’s the best start to the day.
2. I am half Dutch, and I found in Holland that they sell DIY teabags, tall teabags but there’s no tea in them.
If you have a really proper high tea in a posh London hotel, they’ll have a big teapot and they’ll put leaf tea in it. Otherwise, people in England drink this crappy teabag tea. It’s designed to brew quickly, and it doesn’t taste very nice. These teabags are available if you know where to buy them, but it’s not in the high street, so people don’t know about it.
It’s a classic case of William Gibson: the future is already here but it’s unevenly distributed. What I love about online stuff is you have access to a new capability, or a new technology, a new idea — whether it’s buying DIY teabags and looseleaf tea because they don’t sell it in your hometown or it’s something like iDoneThis or it’s something like Turbine.
It just changes what is possible, and I think that’s very exciting.
“Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energizing. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value.”—
How Pipedrive Achieves International Scale by Working Remotely
The reason why we exist is to help companies like Pipedrive work richly. They have an amazing story — they’ve gone from Timo selling books door-to-door in San Jose to a company that spans three continents and has created one of the hottest and most useful CRM tools on the market today. We’re so proud to be an ingredient in their success.
I love the guys at Pipedrive because their ambition is global. They know that sales is a problem that knows no boundaries—not language nor culture—and so from day one, their scope has been international. Pipedrive was founded in Estonia, but at any given time, its founders are in Tallinn, San Francisco, Santiago, or Nairobi to spread the good word about Pipedrive, a simple CRM that people actually use.
With distributed teams, there’s a daily struggle for team members to maintain a basic understanding of each other, especially across different disciplines. We get stuck in our silos. At Pipedrive, marketing has its own Skype chat and its own weekly standups. Engineering has its nose in Asana and it’s filled with technical mumbo jumbo that no one else in the company can understand.
iDoneThis bridges this divide. Just taking 30 seconds to write down the three highlights from the day pays huge dividends in giving the team a basic understanding of teammates’ contributions and the direction and progress of the company. They dig up the company roadmap on a quarterly basis at Pipedrive and have a “all-hands” meeting. iDoneThis keeps the company together and headed in the right direction in the meantime.
Maybe this is best experienced from the perspective of the “new guy.” Pipedrive recently had a new developer start working for them remotely, and he was immediately bombarded by questions on Skype asking him what he got done by four different people every day. On Skype, it’s hard to tell what someone is feeling, and the most benign questions can become irritating and overbearing. The new developer was thrilled to use iDoneThis, because now no one pesters him to find out what he’s done, everyone just knows.
Pipedrive exemplifies how a company can use international reach to drive revenue growth. To make that happen, they’ve mastered the art of working together remotely. We’re proud to be a part of their workflow, one that encourages understanding and appreciating the work of other business divisions and one that fosters daily participation in and ownership over the trajectory of the company as a whole.