Being a Manager Is Chaos, how to avoid the black hole where time is stretched and Matthew McConaughey is in a cabinet communicating with his daughter

OK, OK! seriously, it’s a post about how to arrange your tasks as a manager, very funny clickbaity title Raz (you A-hole!)

Anyhow, I mentor some managers starting their careers (at work and out of), and the biggest topic they seem to be struggling with is how to make sense of the chaos and how to find time to follow up on things.

What’s in it for you the reader?

I am very insanely chaotic! people don’t even understand how unorganized and messy I am by nature, but most people that work with me never said it about me, it’s not because I’m organized, it’s because it’s a skill I applied and I follow a system for my unorganized nature.

What do we want to fix?

We want to fix the:

  • How the fuck can I keep track of all my tasks?
  • When the fuck can I find time to actually do them?

Of course, those are tasks that are not on a Jira board, but rather things managers need to deal with next to their day-to-day.

Here is my secret!

ย “The Road to Freedom is a Beautiful System”, Phil Jackson

As I mentioned, I am a very chaotic person, that means that to achieve the freedom to be a chaotic person, but still manage myself well, I need a structured system… here it is:

I use my Gmail as a task manager (and I use google tasks for things that are not coming directly to my inbox)

So,

I follow a strict inbox zero rule, where every week I finish my week with no emails on my inbox…

 

How?

Every morning for an hour, before I’m at the office (no slack or emails allowed) I do:

  1. Go over my emails bottom->up:
    1. If it’s just FYI, I read, archive, and move on…
    2. If I need to do something and I can reply quickly and consider it done, I do and archive ๐Ÿ™‚
    3. If I can forward to someone that would handle it better, I do and I snooze to follow-up, there’s only one person I don’t snooze with, if you are reading this, Hey Daniel ๐Ÿ‘‹
      It’s not that I don’t trust people, I just know most people struggle with emails as tasks, so it’s good to follow-up
    4. If it’s too much work that I can’t manage during my hour or in the steeps above, I snooze to my dedicated working time (we will talk about it) and I add the task to my Google Tasks.
  2. I block dedicated slots on my calendar to work on open things I need to do! and I do respect those slots like I do other meetings, I try to not postpone them, as I try to never postpone 1:1s.
  3. At the end of each day, I clean my inbox – Mostly I archive emails that are not relevant

 

So, what do I do with tasks that are really big, not something I can manage in blocked time for snoozed emails?

As I mentioned, I use google tasks, for bigger things I add them there and immediately block actual time on my calendar to work on that thing only if I think it’s going to take more time or I’ll need people, I address that in my invite (or rather several invites for myself or even creating a meeting from it)

And one small thing

I also have documents I share with each person I manage and each sync I have, so if some tasks I have are talking points I have with others, I add the topic to my parking spot with those people and I make sure to check it…

Summary

I know it’s a very boring post, it’s basically grey and aย How to work type of thing, I write it just because I’ve seen managers (and devs) struggling with this topic, I’m not saying my method is special or better than yours ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just saying it’s important to artificially add structure in the chaos, so you can enjoy the chaos the rest of the time ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

One thought on “Being a Manager Is Chaos, how to avoid the black hole where time is stretched and Matthew McConaughey is in a cabinet communicating with his daughter

  1. I do it similarly, using some principles from “Getting Things Done”: I have one list (on a paper in my case) which is the source of truth. It contains all work and private tasks I need to do, with deadlines. Everything that is “less than 2 minutes” I do immediately. For bigger tasks I block time. I go over the list every few hours and cross out finished ones. Old school.

    Like

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