23 May 2009

Brutal efficiency– my way of getting things done

3 Comments people management

Super Business Man

It’s 3:42 am on a Saturday morning and I’m almost done with my work. These techniques may or may not work for you, but I’ll share anyway:

  • Don’t go to bed until you’re done: Why? In the morning, you won’t remember. New things will come up.  Knowing you must get your
    work done before sleeping brings more focus– it forces efficiency.  You can finish on a good note.  Downsides– you might have a morning meeting you can’t skip, which means you won’t get enough sleep. You risk becoming addicted to this approach and become a vampire.
  • Meet in their office, not yours: That way you can leave easily. If they are in your space, not so easy. Plus, the walking around will do you good– it’s exercise, plus you see
    more tha
    n if you sit in your corner office isolated from what’s going on.  Being with the troops breeds egalitarianism instead of hierarchy.
  • Follow up the same day: This is like point #1. When you go to a conference or some get together and come back to the hotel with a stack of cards, it’s easy to say you’ll follow up in the morning. Don’t.  You won’t do it nor will you remember who the person was and what you talked about.  An immediate response draws surprise, since it’s so rare for someone who gets your card to actually respond. Look at your own experience and judge if that’s true.
  • Ask “So what’s the next step?”: This will quickly kill idle chatter, gossip, and complaining. You force yourself or your colleague to find the next action.  In meetings, this is especially effective, since most people are just competing for airtime to hear themselves talk.  The more people, the more of an issue and the more important to drive to action instead of endless philosophizing.
  • Delegate: Yes, even if you could do it better. But don’t do it if they’re not reliable, able to self-diagnose issues (so you don’t have to keep checking in on them), or if it’s core to what your business
    does.  For example, don’t delegate or outsource product management and requirements writing– that’s defining your business.  If it’s
    not core– accounting, design, hosting, legal, whatever– outsource.  If it’s important, but not critical, then hire someone internal.  For an analogy on delegation, you can learn to scale up.
  • Finish what you started: Don’t go to 90% and think that you’ll come back to it later.  That extra 10% will cost you 100% more time to do it later because of something called context switching costs.   Better to have a couple things actually complete than 10 things 90% done.  Knowing that you’ll finish what you started will breed massive confidence in yourself and those around you.  Don’t stop midway in a task to look for garage sales or denver strip clubs, no matter how tempting.  Keep going.  I wrote this blog post knowing that I would go to bed by 4 am– and this I’ve done.
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Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of Portage. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing, having been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. He is also an author at InsideFacebook and AllFacebook. Dennis has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines. He studied Finance and Economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. You can contact him at dennis@portage.co, his blog, or on Facebook.
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3 Responses to “Brutal efficiency– my way of getting things done”

  1. Reply Bob Vasquez says:

    Bob Vasquez likes this! Oops, I thought this was facebook! :o

    This information is invaluable, thank you. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you can do technically, it’s still psychological issues that tend to get in the way of business. Oops, is this “endless philosophizing?’ I will do better! :)

  2. Reply Nick says:

    For me I try not to stay up so late anymore. I’ve found that the speed and accuracy of my work diminishes as the hours grow larger and larger. Also, naps during the day really help… I’ll take a nap over a long lunch whenever there is a long day ahead of me!

  3. Reply Take a Break for Clients’ Sake says:

    [...] blog postings.  One that caught my eye a few weeks ago was Dennis Yu’s article on “Brutal Efficiency“.  Dennis makes some great observations in his article about working hard, being efficient, [...]

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