Self Management

Here are some useful tips I picked up from the Webstock 2012 conference held in Wellington in February. The tips are primarily about self-management – so they can be easily implemented by individuals.

Scott Hanselman had a lot of useful information about successful time-management:
If you are continually working late there is something wrong

Schedule Email

  • Do not have your email program open all of the time
  • Schedule a time in the day to check and respond to emails
  • Schedule email later in the day – if you answer emails in the morning you will get more emails in your Inbox (because people reply)

The CC rule

  • Setup a CC rule in your Inbox. Anything that is not specifically sent TO you should be automatically moved to a Inbox CC folder. People will learn that if they need to directly communicate with you they will send it TO you.

Triage your email

For each item in your inbox do one of four immediate actions:

  • Do it - action it immediately (should take under a minute to do)
  • Delegate it – pass it on to someone else to do
  • Defer it – an action that requires more than a minute to process
  • Drop it – delete it

Sentence Limit

  • Limit all of your email correspondence to a maximum of 5 sentences
  • Think of emails being useful for setting up meetings, confirming details; rather than writing essays
  • In writing short emails you are also ‘training’ the other party to communicate in this way with you

Stay Focused

  • Create a schedule of 25-minute blocks of work
  • Stay focussed in that time on one task
  • That means no tabbing to other websites, or checking email etc
  • Every time you get diverted make a note on a piece of paper. The physical act of doing this will make you conscious of the interruptions, allowing you to train yourself to stay focussed.
  • Take a 5 minute break

Reduce Guilt and Inaction

  • Reduce piles of material on your desk or in-tray. Piles make you feel guilty. Acknowledge that you will only get through a certain amount and only put on your desk what you know you can get through
  • Lists:
    • At the start of the year write down three things you want to achieve that year
    • At the start of the month write down three things you want to achieve that month
    • At the start of the week write down three things you want to achieve that week
    • At the start of the day three down three things you want to achieve that day
  • The lists should be aspirational but manageable. They are not intended to make you feel guilty if you don’t achieve all of your goals.
  • At the start of the week take time to look forward to the week ahead
  • At the end of the week take time to reflect on the week that’s been

Reduce Signal to Noise

  • Masses of information are bombarding us every day
  • Audit every type of communication channel you receive and prioritize (or completely remove) channels that are weighing you down or causing inaction
  • For example:
    • Email
    • Phone
    • Internet (e.g. social media websites)
    • Newspapers
    • Face-to-face

... And some general areas of management and team culture were also explored:


Every time you offer criticism you should also offer a solution.

  • The other party may not accept that solution, but it shows that you have carefully considered what you are saying. Michael B Johnson, Pixar


  • When asking "Why did something go wrong?" - ask the "why" question five times. This helps drill down to the root cause of an issue.
  • If you ask "why" once you may only be getting the answer to a symptom of the real problem. Raffi Krikorian, Twitter

Share your Knowledge

Share your Google Analytics with your entire staff (in real-time) so they can make informed decisions about how users are using your website and what areas of the site (and your business) you should be concentrating on. Raffi Krikorian, Twitter

Follow me on Twitter