I’m currently in London for a meetup with my fellow happiness leads at Automattic. During our get-together, I led a session on prepping our workweeks. In it, I wanted to tackle two challenges all of us face.

Challenges

The first challenge is to work efficiently in addressing our todos. We have a lot of recurring tasks and bigger projects, but also a lot of unexpected items that need attention. How do you best prioritise and when do you best prep all of this?

A second challenge is how to communicate all of this to team members. I can tell my team members how many meetings I have, but that doesn’t cover the majority of my time. A lack of communication can leave team members wondering what the heck leads spend their time on. Or even worse: wondering if they’re working hard at all.

Workflow

A few years ago I developed a workflow that addresses both of these challenges. Pretty much every lead I chatted to works with some form of todo-list, whether through using apps or just a notebook. So do I, but I’ve started making my todo-list available for my team members.

I don’t think they spend a lot of time checking these out, but at any given time, my team members can go to my team’s internal blog (using the P2 theme) and check what I’m working on from day-to-day. That way they can also question me about my schedule or leave remarks if they see anything that stands out to them.

Specifically, I use the following tools:

  • In a shared Basecamp environment I have with my supervisor, I list all bigger projects I’m working on with deadlines. Otherwise, I struggle too much to keep track of them. Given that we also use Basecamp with the other leads, it means that pretty much all bigger tasks with deadlines have a central spot I can check.
  • I also make sure that every meeting I have is listed in my personal calendar.
  • Next to that, I have a TextExpander snippet that has all recurring tasks in it already. When I create the todo-list on our internal blog, the template for that is built by this TE snippet.
  • Finally, I use Alfred to open all of the other tools to make the whole process of prepping my week more efficiently.

Further, I try to publish my todo-list every Friday evening as the last thing I do for that week. That has the implication that I review everything I’m working on and plan what’s coming next week, which results in me being able to leave my work behind in the weekend.

Results

The results of this approach have been great.

First of all, prepping my week in due time means that I have a lot more peace when I’m not working. During the weekend, I do not worry about the week ahead, because I know that my planning is waiting for me on Monday morning. The same goes for my evenings. I tend to review what is coming for the next day each evening before I close off so when I finally do close off, I can not just close off my computer but also my “work brain.”

Second, given the transparency towards my team members, it helps build rapport. I think my team has a right to know what I’m working on. They don’t always need to know all the details, but given that my primary role is to create space for them to flourish, they should be allowed to review how I’m using my time to fulfill that role. I’ve noticed that being transparent about my todos helps with this and several team members have confirmed this.

Photo by Workshop& on Unsplash

Published by Job

Hallo! I'm a Belgian living in Cape Town with a passion for education, training and WordPress, trying to combine the three at the WooCommerce team of Automattic. In my spare time I run an e-zine called CULTURESHOCK, and enjoy movies, music, photography, reading, travelling, good food and (Belgian) beer.

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