Work Blitzes

Back in January I wrote about how I planned for 3 productive hours per day when developing. Things were a little different then…I was busier, and there was a little more pressure to get LockerPulse done quickly. These past few weeks things have really calmed down for me, to a level I don’t think I’ve had in a long time (if ever). All of the chaotic stuff from the LockerPulse launch has passed. For a while while Mike was in China we were having tech issues with LP almost every day and a few other things went wrong. Piggybacking that right after an intense development project wore me out. That’s just the nature of the beast, but I’m glad it’s passed now. I actually feel like I have control of my day again, which is generally a good thing (random interruptions are sometimes good, however random problems every single day without reprieve are not). I’m working on several really awesome projects for both LockerPulse and Detailed Image, although it’s nothing critical and the time lines are actually realistic and don’t require me working all day on the weekends to get stuff done.

So anyway, now that I’ve got a little more free time, I’ve found that 3 intense productive hours per day is still a sweet spot on my three non-warehouse days (warehouse days can be a little more unpredictable). Again, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is. During that time I don’t really take breaks. I eat beforehand and afterward. I’ve generally already run my errands for the day and/or gone to the gym. I’ve already checked email and done any daily tasks. Later at night, if I have time, I’ll catch up on Twitter and my RSS feeds or write a blog post or try to expand my programming knowledge. But during those 3 hours I’m intensely focused. The night before I’ll plan out exactly what I’ll be working on. I like to make a cup of tea to sip on and crank up the music and get into my zone. It’s hard (impossible) to do this all day long. For 3 hours per day though, I find myself looking forward to it and not dreading work like most people do. Some of that is because of what I’m working on, but some of it is because I’m not wearing myself out by working a crazy amount of hours.

I particularly enjoy sandwiching these “blitzes” with the exact opposite type of thing. Before hand, I might go to the gym, cook breakfast, and read for 30 minutes, which is the total opposite of programming with Eminem blaring. When I’m done, I might make some more food and go for a walk or read some more. The whole thing just leaves me feeling balanced and relaxed, while still being really productive. When I’m in “work24x7 mode” I just can’t unwind even when I try to. The nice thing is that because we’re doing pretty well now, I don’t feel like I have to work all the time like I did in 2006 or 2007.

By structuring things around these short “blitzes” of work, I feel like I’m setting myself up for the kind of balance I want to live with for the long term, the kind of balance I’m lucky enough to be able to dictate because I own my own business.

4 comments on Work Blitzes

  1. Tim says:

    I’ve been busy for the last few days, I saw this come through my feed but haven’t had a chance to comment to now. I’m big on the work blitz concept of work, the only way to squeeze more into a day is to have completely separate areas you can blitz on, which is what I’ve been doing. One session I’m focusing on long range strategy, next I’m doing some Social Media work, then I’ll bounce to management, etc…. I’ve got so many separate tasks I can work on right now that when I get burned on one I just take a short break and get back at it in a different area. I do hope things settle a little after launch, because I don’t think I can maintain this pace for much over a year. What I envision happening is hiring professionals for some of these tasks and focus on the work that only I can do best for the business – I am probably living in a fairy tale world, but if I can focus on just business development I would be very happy.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Tim I know you’re the master of doing this type of thing. At times I get away from it and don’t “allow” myself any free time until I’m done with work for the day. What often happens though is that I get caught up doing something and get 15 minutes of reading in at the end of the night. So for me, making myself do something fun in the morning (usually working out) and also in the afternoon (usually reading or taking a walk) is really critical to my balance. Also in re-reading this post I’m not sure if it’s entirely evident but when I say 3 hours I mean 3 hours of “producing” – usually programming, but sometimes other stuff like analyzing data to report back to the team. That’s not the only 3 hours I work for the day. Like you, I split up email and daily tasks, learning new skills, business planning, etc into other portions of the day.

      In your case I think things will settle after the launch phase ends. Eventually the problems stop…or at least slow down. The nice thing about your business model is that there aren’t 1000 moving parts and it should be profitable from the start. It seems like it will be manageable once you figure your processes out.

      The funny thing for me is that being overworked is stressful, but then it’s hard to wind back into normalcy when you become used to overworking yourself. I have a harder time gearing down to taking a day or two off per week than I do gearing up to working 24×7. Not a good thing really, but it’s the way I am.

  2. Tim says:

    I know you’re right and I do see light at the end of the tunnel, in the mean time however, it seems like there is an endless list of things that need to be done. A lot of what we are doing is laying a solid foundation so we can focus on growth over the next 6 months, which takes a LOT longer than if we were just planning for a single location, we plan on growing 10-18 fold in 6 months from launch, and while this is a HUGE goal, with solid infrastructure it’s totally possible. Creating this infrastructure(processes and systems) is very time consuming and we run into countless hurdles along the way. The difficult part is I’m functioning as our corporate attorney, CFO, CTO, CIO and all while keeping an eye on operations/sales. As we grow we will be able to hire an attorney, and some of these various other positions can be spread over other personnel. The nice thing about this project is that I have very little to do with daily operations so it frees up a ton of time so I can focus on more demanding work. I’ve learned so much in the last few months, and grown this so rapidly it’s pretty remarkable looking back already I can hardly wait to look back in 6 months and again in a year!

    The flip side of this is there have been a number of 16 hour days worked in the last few weeks, days that the only thing I do aside from basic human functions(such as eating and sleeping) is going for a walk in the afternoon. Even I know that is not sustainable for too long.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Definitely. I’ve been there. I personally can do that for 3-6 months, any more and I go insane or it becomes very counterproductive. In the meantime try to get half a day off here and there to get away and keep yourself sane 🙂

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