Scaling yourself

Tips and Tricks

Scott Hanselman gave a talk in 2012 called “Scaling Yourself ” about personal productivity and not burning out.<footnote>As I learned today, he since has given a variant of that talk dozens of times and it probably has improved. However, I saw the 2012 version.</footnote> I would say it’s more relevant today than it has been then.

A lot of us have been working from home since early 2020. We’ve had to re-arrange childcare, supervise remote learning, take care of family members and adopt new protocols such as social distancing – all against the backdrop of a global pandemic, an economic downturn and social unrest. We are not just transitioning to work-from-home, but rather dealing with multiple severe crises that force everyone to stay at home while still trying to work.

While Scott’s talk does not solve global healthcare, he has a few actionable suggestions that might lighten the load. Below are more notes:

  • There is a fundamental difference between efficiency (reducing the effort to get things done) and effectiveness (doing the right things). Efficiency will come with time and experience. Effectiveness can be improved immediately.
  • Each week set aside time to define the work that needs to get done. That makes sure that you are working on the right things.
  • Say no/ drop things off your todo list. We can only do so many things and even fewer things really well. Give yourself permission to say “no” or re-negotiate your commitments.
  • “Being busy is a form of laziness”. Instead of taking care of everything as if everything is of equal importance, invest the time to triage work, i.e. make some upfront decision about if this needs to get done, whether you are the best person to do it and by when it needs to get done. Don’t just jump to the conclusion that add it to the top of your todo list.
  • Save your keystrokes: When writing longer instructive emails, consider putting them in a document or a blog post instead. That way you can share more broadly with others and don’t have to repeat yourself.
  • At the beginning of a day or a week, pick three things that you want to get done. As work and life now blends it is even more important to set boundaries and set yourself a bar for success to make sure you don’t end your day without guilt. If you don’t set that bar, your workday will never feel done and you will continuously carry the psychic weight of unfinished work with you.

Scott does a much better job at telling stories around these concepts. Give it a shot, it’s only 30 minutes that will pay off later: Scaling Yourself – Scott Hanselman

The Author

Raging introvert, estimated to be 120% German. Passionate about photography. If Sheldon knocked on my door three times, I'd let him in.