Build a Better Routine and Find Your Focus


Responsiveness is Undervalued

by Nina Post

It seems like most companies spend all their time trying to find people who have the right combination of education, prior work experience, etc. They may mention something about looking for people who possess "strong attention to detail" and a "self-driven sense of urgency," but the attribute that's most often left out is responsiveness.

Responsiveness should be considered as valuable as everything else, but it's well under the radar. The nature of most work requires communication with both internal and outside parties, and keeping that communication going can make the difference between a project that's on-time and meets expectations, versus one that's plagued with delays and functional issues.

When it comes to getting complex work done and working effectively as part of a team, responsiveness is so valuable that it's arguably a better predictor of job effectiveness than nearly anything else.

What are some ways to be more responsive? Here are a few that anyone can implement right away:

  • If you're waiting to get the answer from someone else, or you don't know the answer, just say so.

  • If someone asks you to do something and you can't get to it right away, it's still helpful to tell the person who sent the request, "Got it - I'll let you know when I can work on this." Take a second to acknowledge that you received the email so the sender isn't left in the position of wondering if you did.

  • Don't run your inbox on a FIFO basis. Have enough flexibility and awareness that you don't blindly go through all of your emails in order. Say that someone sends you an email, you reply to them a few hours later, and then they reply to you right after that. Do you wait until you've made your way through all your other emails before looking at their latest reply, or do you pick up the thread and finish the conversation right then and there? The second approach is the more responsive one, and also has the benefit of reducing the time you spend switching from one task to another.

What My Neighbor's Pine Tree Can Teach Us About Growth

by Nina Post

Our neighbor has a pine tree directly in front of his house that sticks several feet into the adjacent road. The branches are high enough that cars don't hit it, but every delivery or construction vehicle that comes through smacks into it.

Yet every spring, the tree presents a triumphant array of several dozen middle fingers to the world and its oppressors as it grows another two feet.

This tree is literally hit by a truck every week, sometimes every day, and keeps growing. It doesn't let that stop it. No, it's not massive. It's a modest-sized tree. But it keeps on keepin' on.

Our neighbor's pine tree is an inspirational metaphor for the small company experience. The tree has the right model. Does it feel like the same thing is happening to you? You can survive, and you can grow. Keep taking small actions.   


What Frigate Birds Can Teach Us About Work and Endurance

by Nina Post

Frigate birds are known for their endurance. They can fly for weeks, even months, without stopping.

According to Henri Weimerskirch, an ornithologist who spent years tracking a group of them, frigate birds can fly for such long periods because they take advantage of favorable winds and strong convection, and rely on thermals and wind to fly at very low energy costs.

They soar inside cumulus clouds, using their strong updraft (even though it's freezing).

If what you're doing requires feats of endurance, are there ways you could make it easier for yourself? Look for trends you can attach to make things easier. Have enough reserves so you can run things on the back-burner for a while if you need to. Keep your operating costs low and be as efficient as you can until you have the resources to scale.

And you can't do this without taking care of yourself. Getting enough sleep and exercise will make you capable of sustaining the frigate-like endurance you need.


Movie Recommendations For a Long Weekend

It's Memorial Day weekend, and aside from paying our respects to those who lost their lives in the service of our country, we could probably fit in a couple of movies. These aren't thematic for the holiday and most aren't on Netflix streaming; forgive me.

When you need to get creatively inspired by real people:

Abstract: The Art of Design - particularly the architecture and graphic design episodes [Netflix streaming]
Lambert & Stamp
Beauty is Embarrassing

When you want to get in a better mood and watch something British:

Sing Street [Netflix streaming]
Love & Friendship

The Trip
[Netflix streaming]
The IT Crowd Manual
[Netflix streaming]
Sexy Beast
Withnail & I


When you want to get in a better mood (and don't even care if the thing you watch is British or not!):

The Station Agent
Soul Kitchen
What We Do in the Shadows
Good Bye Lenin!
Chunking Express
The Dinner Game
Galaxy Quest
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
World of Tomorrow
[Netflix streaming]

When you're in a knock-hats-off kind of mood and are fine with staying that way:

With a Friend Like Harry
Blow Out
The Guest
One Hour Photo
Roger Dodger
[Netflix streaming]
[Netflix streaming]
The Invitation
[Netflix streaming]
The Big Short
[Netflix streaming]

When you want to watch something about crime but also want to be in a pretty good mood:

The Matador
You Kill Me
Sexy Beast
Lucky Number Slevin
[Netflix streaming] 

I hope you find something you like, British or not, and that you find some to add to your list for another weekend! 🎥