Thursday Meetings

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In 2015, we made a series of changes to improve the way we do business at Polar Notion. One of the most impactful changes involved meetings.

As a design and development team, meetings surround projects and projects pay the bills. So, when our workload increased tremendously in 2015, the number of meetings increased with it. As one might speculate, managing current workload with prospective projects became difficult. In September alone, roughly 50% of my time was spent:

  1. in meetings
  2. scheduling meetings
  3. planning for meetings
  4. following up from meetings
  5. traveling/transitioning to and from meetings.

If we were going to complete everything we were being hired for, something had to change. Realizing there was only so much we could do to to address item #1, we began to take a look at the remaining items. After some discussion, we realized that #4, traveling and transitioning to-from meetings, was one of the largest time wasters. Whether onsite, offsite, or conference call, physically and mentally transitioning takes time away from productivity.

So, after a few discussions, we arrived at a solution:

Thursdays are meeting days.

Moving all meetings to a single day created a number to short-term and longterm wins:

  • One day each week leaves the reset of the week wide open for actually getting the work done with few distractions.
  • We’re able to head into Thursdays with a different mindset. Our priority shifts from executing to listening and dialoguing.
  • Knowing we’ve cleared the time in our schedule allows us to be fully present, not worrying about the work that’s not getting done (this actually makes the meeting more productive).
  • Scheduling meetings takes less time. When we’re asked, “when can you meet?” we always have an answer.
  • The dead time between meetings can be used to recap/followup instead of postponing for a later distraction.
  • Scheduling back-to-back meetings is great accountability to stay on point and prevent a 30 minute phone call from stretching to 2 hours. (we’ve all been there)
  • Worst case scenario, a Thursday packed full of meetings still leaves us 80% of our week to get work done. (a vast improvement)

Here are some questions I wrestled with at first, or have heard from people when I mentioned the change.

What happens when Thursday is booked? There’s always next Thursday.

What if they need to meet sooner or at another time? Then we accommodate. (Though there are few things in life that can’t wait a week.)

Are clients willing to do that? It’s not something we communicate to everyone but by and large, more people appreciate the consistency than oppose it. For those that are aware, they know there is a dedicated time each week we’ve set aside for them. (people like it when you make time for them)

 

Building Blocks of Growth

Borrowed from Seth’s Blog, here are some spot-on fundamentals for building a business with integrity in today’s market.

  • The best marketing isn’t advertising, it’s a well-designed and remarkable product.
  • The best way to contact your users is by earning the privilege to contact them, over time.
  • Making products for your customers is far more efficient than finding customers for your products.
  • Horizontally spread ideas (person to person) are far more effective than top-down vertical advertising.
  • More data isn’t the point. Data to serve explicit promises is the point.
  • Commodity products can’t expect to easily build a profitable ‘brand’ with nothing but repetitive jingles and noise.

Adding Style to HTML emails

While trying to determine as set of best practices for styling HTML email templates, I came across an article on StackOver that provided some helpful advise.


 

  • Inline styles are you best friend. Absolutely don’t link style sheets and do not use a <style>tag (gmail, for example, strips that tag and all it’s contents).
  • Against your better judgement, use and abuse tables. <div>s just won’t cut it (especially in Outlook).
  • Don’t use background images, they’re spotty and will annoy you.
  • Remember that some email clients will automatically transform typed out hyperlinks into links (if you don’t anchor <a> them yourself). This can sometimes achieve negative effects (say if you’re putting a style on each of the hyperlinks to appear a different color).
  • Be careful hyperlinking an actual link with something different. For example, don’t type out http://www.google.com and then link it to https://gmail.com/. Some clients will flag the message as Spam or Junk.
  • Save your images in as few colors as possible to save on size.
  • If possible, embed your images in your email. The email won’t have to reach out to an external web server to download them and they won’t appear as attachments to the email.

And lastly, test, test, test! Each email client does things way differently than a browser would do.

Quitting is for Winners

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As humans, we’re really good at saying ‘yes’ to things but what if we became more proficient at quitting things?

Image, for a moment, you chose one thing each week… to quit.

How many weeks would it take you to arrive at the cream-of-the-crop of life’s choices?

How much faster would our goals be accomplished?

How much more focused would we be?

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I play two games on my iPhone, each as mindless and wasteful as their counterpart.

What if I quit one of them this week?

How else might that time be used?

What positive change might result?

We’ll see.

Commitment

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Each week I make an intentional effort for at least 1 day to disconnect. No computers. No emails. Sunday is usually that day. This time allows me to be fully present with family without the distractions or expectations of accomplishing work related tasks or communication.

This week is a little different. This week, I committed to a 7 day challenge hosted by Winnie Kao, Special Projects lead for Seth Godin, to ship content each day for 7 days. (You can click here to view my 7 day journey.)

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Find A Reason

Find a ReasonThere is always a reason to complain. When we search for it, we find it.

There is always a reason to celebrate. When we search for it, we find it.

The more time we spend searching for one, the less time we send search for the other.

It’s a choice. Our choice.

Rev Your Wild Side

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For Day 5 of Winnie’s #YourTurnChallenge, to post fresh content for 7 straight days, I’ve decided to share about a unique concept that’s gaining traction around Atlanta, GA. Warning: Motorcycle puns are present.

The highways and byways of Atlanta, GA are growling with excitement as a community of moto-curious and moto-crazed are being connected. The team that is championing this renaissance of road rumblers is known as Brother Moto.

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Push. Purge. Polish.

Ship Wrecked

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My computer crashed this week.

A 2 1/2 year old Mac Pro. Unanticipated, instant video card death in the middle of the work day. I was stranded.

It was on Day 1 of a challenge from Winnie Kao, the Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin, to ship fresh content every day for seven days. This challenge and 99% of my job as a developer require regular access to a computer.

While the wound is still fresh, though my (new) computer is now online, I thought it would be helpful to share a practice that helped soften the hit and made a huge difference getting me running again.

Continue reading “Ship Wrecked” »