A New Productivity Experiment and My Weekly Priorities Email

Apr 2021 - Evergreen Thoughts

🆕 My Month in 5 Bullets

  • 🌴 Have been down in Florida with my family for the past month

  • 👨‍🏫 Was a coach for Lenny Rachitsky’s awesome PM Fundamentals course

  • 💪 Got an Oculus Quest 2 — Supernatural is DOPE

  • 🎟️ Have been in crunch mode for a SeatGeek rebranding launching this Summer

  • 🔋 Took a week off to be with my family, relax, and recharge


A Buddy System for Adults

A Confession: I’ve been in a productivity slump. Between slack, email, and meetings, I’ve found it increasingly hard to carve out time, attention, and energy to get meaningful work done. This lack of daytime progress creates more stress, pushes work into the evening and weekends, and makes it harder to disconnect and recharge. It’s a vicious productivity and burnout cycle.

An Experiment: To get things back on track, I’m experimenting with a Focusmate inspired buddy system. In short, for the past couple days my brother and I have been scheduling 1.5 hour blocks to help us break out of this modern knowledge worker productivity trap [1].

More specifically, we:

  • 🗓 Schedule 1.5 hour blocks that we’re both free

  • 🎯 Begin each session by sharing what we want to accomplish

  • 👀 Use Tandem to keep an eye on each other and reduce distractions

  • ✔️ End each session by sharing how things went

A couple additional tips I’ve found useful:

  • 💤 Pause slack notifications during the session

  • 🧘‍♂️ Begin each session with a 3m productivity boosting breathing exercise

While it sounds simple, it’s been surprisingly effective. After the first 2 sessions we both knocked out important projects that had been sitting on the top of our to do lists for weeks without any progress. Hopefully this experiment and the initial positive results last longer than this week :)

[1] Related, I recently finished Cal Newport’s A World Without Email. It’s a good reminder of just how bad the modern knowledge work environment is for getting meaningful work done.


The State of Me

Every Friday I reflect on the past week and prepare for the week ahead. One of my favorite parts of this routine is a “Weekly Priorities” email I send to my manager. It includes:

  • 🥳 My biggest wins from the past week

  • 🎯 My priorities for the week ahead

  • ⚖️ Progress on last week’s priorities

  • 🧠 Things on my mind

  • ✨ An inspirational quote

First and foremost I do this for myself. It helps me hit the ground running on Monday morning. It also improves my peace of mind and helps me more fully disconnect as I head into the weekend. As a side benefit, it’s a great way to keep my manager in the loop and give him a chance to provide input into what I’m working.

If you’re looking to increase your productivity, reduce stress, or improve your relationship with your boss, you should give it a go. Include as much or as little as you want, and feel free to tailor the specific sections to whatever is most helpful. Below is another variation that I came across during the PM Fundamentals course I participated in earlier this month:

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👋 Until next time,