It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy At Work


Think of your company as a product. See what's broken, figure out how it can be fixed, experiment, collect feedback and update to make it better.

Common entrepreneur advice is to hustle 24/7, commit ridiculosuly, not to care how you feel, sacrifice etc. But many get broken, wasted and crushed in the hustle for nothing but exhaustion. You can still be successful entrepreneur by having a hobby, playing with your kids, taking care of yourself physically etc.

Mark Twain said: "Comparison is the death of joy." Don't compare your company with others, the product features, the market share etc. What others do has no bearing on your company.

Set out to do good work and to the best work you can on a daily basis. A good work ethic is being reliable, not being a bottleneck, being a good coworker, being good to customers, doing what you say you'r going to do, not wasting time, not creating unnecessary work for other people and putting in a fai day's work.

40-hour a week is plenty, 8 is enough. People's time and attention are the most scarcest resources - protect them. If an hour is broken into fractions, interrupted by meetings, chats, you don't get to do quality work between the context switches and multitasking. Allow yourself long uninterrupted hours at work.

Don't cheat sleep. Don't work over weekends - you will not have time to recharge. Don't ship software updates on Friday - wait till Monday, the following week. This also makes you to be more careful, as Monday is usualy the busiest day of the week. Be comfortable - don't stretch and destroy at work because work isn't working out at gym. Putting in work until midnight, on weekends are example of being overworked. Find what work can be cut down, how little you can do and still accomplish the task and do it.

Celebrate the seasons. 4 day work-weeks in summer - enjoy the sunshine, people don't like monotonus things.

Pricing - don't look for the big fish in the catch. Look at the many tiny fishes - the Fortune 5,000,000. You don't get sucked into chasing big contracts and you can make real impacts.

No standups, no meetings. When there are 20 people in a meeting for an hour, it costs 20 hours and not an hour for the company. For Basecamp, they found that three to be the ideal number of peoples in a meeting.

Commit, not consensus. Disagree and commit. Don't wait for everyone to agree on a topic. A single person should make the decision, though others should have sufficient time to give their inputs, it should be explained why a decision was made. It is not decide and go.

Trust battery - the level of trust between two individuals in a company. When a new relationaship begins, it is at 50 percent. Every time you interact with the other person, the battery gets charged or discharged based on the interaction, like whether you deliver what you promise. Relationship needs nuturing for the trust battery to get charged.

When an office provides endless stream of distractions, from people walking around, throwing questions, meeting morphing into meetings, work doesn't happen at the office. Open office plan sucks at providing a calm, peaceful environment required for doing creative work. Think of an office as a library and follow the library rules - keep it quiet and calm. Don't interrupt someone at work in their desk.

Respect people's time and attention. Don't expect people to respond instantly in chats. A late response doesn't mean people are ignoring you - they might be off working deeply. There's no reason everyone needs to know what everyone else is doing in real time at your company. It's okay to miss out by not using real-time chats and open calendars.

Use office hours - an idea borrowed from academia where an expert in a subject matter (network diagnostics, database management) publishes the time they are available to take questions (ex: tuesday afternoon) and anyone who wants to ask questions to expert wait till the time of office hours and then ask questions. Set your communication policy and maximize uninterrupted hours at work. If there is anything you must know, you'll definitely hear about it.

If you want to know something, you have to ask. Posing real, pointed questions is the only way to get to know the whole story.

Vacations - log out completely, get off the grid. Set the example as a boss by taking vacation. Specify company policy as three weeks of vacation, instead of "as much as you want" number of vacation days and allow for personal discretion. With any number of vacation days, people don't take enough vacation.

Following group chats is hard. Chat is good if used sparingly. Chat conditions everyone to think that it has to be done right now. But that's hard because you don't get enough time to think through a topic or a thought. When a work is presented or an import decision is to be made, write it up first - the complete idea in a document. This allows others to take their own time and give considerate feedback and thoughts on the idea. Calling everyone and sharing it in a meeting results in knee jerk reactions - ideas spitted out without thoughfulness.

As a project progress, it is easy to get boggled by the new ideas, the what-if's but thing should narrow down as you go. Deadlines should be achievable and the goals should be realistic. Don't expand the work by adding new works. Take a project, work on it and take a break for decompressing. Have a set timeline for projects. Deadlines should not become dreadlines. As the deadline approaches, the todo's should go down.

A bad event happens as a outlier (like hiring more than the required) but you tolerate. Then, someone follow suits. Soon, it becomes a new normal. Weed out bad event before they become the normals.

Habits gets ingrained into us as time progresses. If you want to fix a bad habit/practice, later is not the time to fix it. Now is the time to fix it.

The owners words matters a lot - a minor suggestion like "Are we looking at Instagram marketing?" can shoot Instagram to the top of marketing.

Ignore the talent wars. Don't look at the resume - a resume is a list of works which someone has done in the past. Ignore the university attended, number of years experiences. Great people who are eager to do great work come from unlikely places. Look at the work and the person. Hire a person for a week, ask them to do a sample project and evaluate the work. Keep salaries equal for equal work and seniority.

Maintaining a calm workplace requires getting comfortable with enough. If it is never enough, then it'll always be crazy at work. Say more no's. Having less to do is the way to get more done. Doing nothing is also a solution. No change is also good.

Choose Calm.