It’s not very interesting.
First, I now try to avoid “screens” from 10pm to 7am. This has improved my quality of life.
I try to spend <= 60 minutes a day on writing, content, blog, social, calls to Europe, and similar activities before everyone else is working. I now try to do this from about 7:45–8:45. As time has gone on, my creative time has evolved, or perhaps, returned to when it once was. Creative Time after I left Adobe/EchoSign used to be in afternoons, but now things are just too busy. So now my creative time is before everyone else is humming. Looking back, at EchoSign, it was the same. I tried to get to work an hour before everyone else for Creative Time.
I try to go out to lunch with whomever on the team or outside of it wants to have lunch with me 🙂 I used to skip lunch or go to the gym then, but not so much now. I try to never eat lunch at my desk. Missed opportunity to do something else.
Afternoons are meeting time. But I try to do only 2 a day. More than that, I get exhausted or tune out. I try not to do any meetings before lunch. Great VPs, great CEOs, potential candidates & recruiting, potential investments, potential partners, sponsors, whatever.
End-of-day is informal “grab-and-go” 1-on-1s. I strongly believe in structured weekly 1-on-1s (e-Staff Meetings and 1-on-1s: You Gotta Do Them | SaaStr) but I personally enjoy an informal catch up at the end of the day with whomever wants to catch up. I did this at my first start-up with my co-founder. Every day, at the end of the day, the two of us would just sit down and talk about … whatever. That was just terrific, those unstructured moments, she and I sharing what was on our minds, our concerns, even just a silly anecdote from the day. I always felt better. We both did. I can’t fully replicate that today. But where I can, I try.
I try to not make anyone feel like they need to stay late. I usually am the last out if I don’t have something to get to, but that’s my cadence. I feel good when no one feels the need to stay remotely late. Also, the SaaStr Annual in February is so all-consuming, you sort of need to rest up a tiny bit.
I try not to email folks anymore at night or early mornings. Worst case, use Mixmax and schedule them to arrive later. A few folks on your team are cool with the weekend and evening emails. But mostly that’s just the ones that Also send them. That’s my new rule. If someone doesn’t electively email you at off hours, try not to email them back at off hours.
I try to leave the phone in the corner of my office, and sometimes, in a box. The distraction from a phone I find almost toxic these days. Our brains are literally addicted. Hard to focus if you are checking your phone all the time.
What has been a bit hard:
Two offices. Balancing an SF office and a San Mateo office has been unexpectedly hard. I’m continuing to learn how to work with a distributed team, not just across the country, but across the Bay Area. The latter is in some ways harder.
Commuting. I spent 4+ years commuting from Peninsula to Potrero Hill in SF, and that was OK, but when we moved to SOMA earlier this year, my commute crossed the 60-minute line. That’s just too long to be productive. So we opened a second San Mateo office. I try myself not to hire folks for in-office roles that require too long a commute. It always breaks over time.
Spending more time recruiting. I should be following SaaStr advice better and spending 20% of my time recruiting (Post-Traction, You Need to Spend 20% of Your Time Recruiting | SaaStr). It’s more like 10%, and that’s not enough. SaaStr the organization is growing quickly, and we got a bit behind on hiring.
Email in general, and distributed communications. I’ve moved to using DMs of various forms to triage email, but email is a non opt-in task assignment system. I apologize to everyone I’ve ghosted on email, I don’t know how to solve this problem. I do read almost everything, but I’ve had to move to a default Don’t Respond to Anything. But, if you are going to work with a distributed team, you have to get better at Slack, email, Zoom, and all the rest. Your distributed team members aren’t down the hall, and you don’t just bump into them at coffee.
Returning to being a direct manager of ICs. It’s been a long time since I managed non-managers. That’s a skill set you acquire as you grow as a manager, but then perhaps decays a bit. I think I am still good at spotting talent, giving them room to run and scale, and backing them, and finding them a great career and promotion path. But I’m less good than I used to be at managing non-managers, and the 100s of ways and areas they also need help.