Startups, learning, life and happiness by Paul Brown

Work doesn't have to suck

There is a stigma in the UK that work has to be hard and unenjoyable, the feeling is ‘well it is work afterall right’. Thousands of people are stuck in a cycle of working 80+ hours, been in endless meetings, been super busy, having lack of sleep, suffering an overflowing inbox, having no time to think and having to pull constant late nights.

This work pattern is chaotic and unsustainable. But here is the good news - work does not have to suck, it can be fun, calm and even easy if you focus your energy on becoming more efficient.

The trick is to throw less at the problem, aim for ‘calm growth’ rather than ‘growth at all costs’ - it is all about getting to the same destination but taking an easier path to get there.

At my company we work hard to be as efficient as possible so the team can get home at a decent time to chill out with their families, here are some ways we keep things calm through efficiencies:

  • Appreciate great work demands uninterrupted time. It sounds obvious but it does not happen in so many companies, you need to ensure you are carving out solid uninterrupted time for ‘deep work’. One easy way to do this is to introduce ‘library rules’ in the office - keep things quiet by default so people can focus.
  • Don’t do pointless s***. Seriously, don’t waste any time on things that don’t matter - look at your schedule and ask yourself - do you really need to be in all those meetings or can you trust your team to take responsibility and get on with it?
  • Treat time as your most valuable resource (because it is). Be ruthless with your time with your team and with clients. Sure people need you and you need to deliver good support but keep communication succinct, check emails at set intervals during the day and carve out uninterrupted blocks of time to get your head down and work.
  • Embrace JOMO (the joy of missing out). You don’t need to be updated on every detail, you don’t need to be in every meeting, don’t worry about not knowing the details of areas you are not accountable for in the company.
  • Always iterate. Force continual improvement from the bottom up - look to the team to tweak and automate process for more efficiency, as a leadership team you don’t need to drive every process change.
  • Trust = speed. Trust in an organisation lubricates the machine, both for internal communication and communication with customers. Customer perception is everything when it comes to trust - manage a strong and genuine relationship and over-deliver on promises consistently to build rock solid trust.
  • Be effective, not busy. Don’t be that person that is working endless hours but never really getting anywhere. Operate effectively during working hours, recognise when you are losing focus and go home on time to recharge your batteries.
  • Do nothing. Not every problem needs a complicated solution, sometimes the solution is to literally do nothing, kill off the task or process altogether, did it really need to be done in the first place or is there a ‘ninja solution’ to shortcut to the solution.
  • Avoid unnecessary check-ins. Communication in an organisation is important but internal meetings can be toxic. A meeting to get an update is important instead use meetings to solve issues and stick updates in quick regular ‘heartbeat’ emails.

There are a ton of methods to keep work running smooth and calm and ‘less sucky’, these are just a few ideas, they might not work for everyone but they help us out a lot in my company - give me a shout if you have any efficiency ideas you are running in your company.