Big Three Part 1: Tick Tock

I read Brad Feld’s recent post on converting entirely to Gmail (see post here) with a smile this week.  It was nice to know that even someone as accomplished as Brad was still trying to figure out how to do things better.  One month ago I was asked to spearhead work with a pre-launch technology start-up. While the chapters in the company’s book are still being written (and I will talk about at some point in a series of posts) I did want to describe how this new role has changed the way I work and highlight some of the tools I am now using to help me (disclaimer: I have no interest in any of the tools I mention). While I have always had multiple projects going and try work at a relatively high pace this new role has raised the bar. When you are in a racing car going 200 MPH you tend to focus on the important and the impactful. For the past month my big three have been:
1. How I manage my time
2. How I manage my activity
3. How I manage my network

I will post on each. Starting with…

Racing around to catch up with sun but its sinking…

I know that man invented it, but no matter what you do there are only so many hours in the day and so many days until you launch. I remember listening (too busy to watch) to the Google launch of Instant and thinking, “they saved how many milliseconds? WTF?” But the hard reality is that once you waste them they never come back no matter how small. In my role I am overseeing everything so my time is spent with product, business development, finance and angels almost everyday. Lots has been written about the number of ways to make meetings better and faster. Based on some of the meetings I attend, meeting management is a lost art. Trust me. It is worth taking the 15 minutes it takes to learn some of the tricks. Here is just one from my old bosses at The Forum Corporation.

Start EVERY meeting with a PBC. Purpose. Benefit. Check.
Purpose: Why have we all stopped the highly productive work we were doing to be in this meeting?
Benefit: What will we gain from participating?
Check: Is this the meeting everybody thought they were coming to?

Then make sure the agenda delivers the benefits. Anything else that is brought up that doesn’t match the purpose or deliver the benefit? Write it down to be discussed in a meeting where it fits. Be militant about this and you will get 50% of your meeting time back. People will think you are an asshole at first but they will thank you for the time they get back.

Why am I here?

But making meetings better is only “local optimization”. I have focused further upstream on optimizing how I choose to participate in meetings and how those meetings get scheduled. I participate in meetings where my authority is required, my knowledge is needed or my support is an accelerant. If one or more of these are true, I am there. Sometimes this is not the whole meeting, in which case I am there only for a portion. Our team is capable and empowered. When they feel I am additive great but my ego doesn’t get hurt when I am not.

How about Tuesday at 3? No. How about….

How meetings get scheduled is where a new tool has come in. Tungle is a great online calendaring service that synchs perfectly with my Gmail calendar and allows me to send available windows of time to people I need to meet with. This allows me to avoid the daisy chain email hell of trying to set up a call with 6 people. It also allows me to make my schedule availability viewable by others so they can schedule with me without having to talk to me directly. The iPhone app is good as well. The only thing I wish it had are alerts so that I didn’t have to keep looking at my watch/phone.

Speed=distance over time…and you can’t change the distance.

Add your comments and suggestions below. I need all the help I can get.

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One response to “Big Three Part 1: Tick Tock

  1. When I think about time as a commodity, I’m preoccupied with how I spend it. When I thing about time as an investment I am preoccupied on what my payback will be. Return on time might spell ROT, but it really leads to GROW–Gains Related to Optimized Work.

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