When clocking off work for the day, have you ever wondered where did that time go!? A McKinsey report recently found that ‘’employees spend 1.8 hours every day of their working week on average – searching and gathering information.’’ Joining Aoife on the podcast this week is former McKinsey engagement manager and now CEO and co-founder of Scribe, a productivity SaaS company based in San Francisco, on a mission to help individuals and teams work at their best, up their productivity levels and win back precious time.
In this episode, Jennifer, an accidental CEO and efficiency and productivity devotee, introduces us to the empowering tool of Scribe and shares how we can boost productivity by removing timewasters. Jennifer also offers some wonderful concentration techniques and shares how to eliminate time costing interruptions. So, if you want to achieve more focus work and free up your daily task list – this episode is a must-listen! Key points throughout include;
– An introduction to Jennifer Smith
– The cost of interruptions: How often do you get interrupted a day?
– Transferring knowledge with the power of Scribe
– Managing time effectively and tackling collaboration overload at work
– The addiction of busy and overcoming pressure on slower working days
– The solution to distraction and collaboration overload
– How to encourage accountability in the workplace.
– Challenge: Stay focused at work with the post-it note technique
– How to take charge of your workload
– What does productivity mean to you? What are you trying to achieve?
– What Happier at Work means to Jennifer
‘’You could go the entire day having helped a whole bunch of people and done a bunch of work or felt like you helped a bunch of people, and certainly like, you know, put a lot of hours into it, but not actually have moved the ball forward on whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve and what you’re trying to do.’’ – Jennifer Smith.
THE LISTENERS SAY:
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
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produced in partnership with http://www.podlad.com
Aoife O’Brien 00:00
Are you looking to improve employee engagement and retention? Do you struggle with decisions on who to hire or who to promote? I have an amazing opportunity for forward thinking purpose-led people first organisations to work with me on the first pilot Happier at Work program for corporates. The program is entirely science backed and you will have tangible outcomes in relation to employee engagement, retention, performance and productivity. The program is aimed at people leaders with responsibility for hiring and promotion decisions. If this sounds like you, please get in touch at Aoife@happieratwork.ie. That’s A O I F E at happieratwork.ie. You’re listening to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host Aoife O’Brien. This is the podcast for leaders who put people first, the podcast covers four broad themes, engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the Happier at Work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at happieratwork.ie.
Jennifer Smith 01:11
Efficiency and productivity and I love to think about how can you take things and make them scalable? Like media, like software? These are things that are infinitely scalable. How can you take us parts of people and what they know how to do and make that scalable?
Aoife O’Brien 01:29
Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of The Happier at Work Podcast. I’m so delighted to have you here tuning in today. My guest today is Jennifer Smith. And if Jennifer Smith is right, the way anyone shares how to knowledge is about to change forever. A former VC and McKinsey consultant turned accidental CEO, she interviewed more than 1200 business leaders on a quest to understand everything there is to know about processes, best practices and productivity. Now with her startup Scribe, she’s empowering people to own their processes by building the world’s first operating system for know how. I know you are going to thoroughly enjoy this conversation with Jennifer. We start by talking a little bit about her company. It sounds hugely interesting. I’ve already downloaded it onto my laptop and I’m starting to give it a go already. We move on to talk about things like productivity and the importance of productivity, and share some productivity tips as well as really, really insightful discussion. And I do hope you get involved in the conversation across on social media happier at work dot ie on Instagram, Aoife O’Brien on LinkedIn, or feel free to connect with me through the website where you’ll find links to all of my social channels there. That’s happieratwork.ie Stay tuned till the end, I will do a wrap up of some of the key points that we discussed on today’s podcast episode. Jennifer, welcome to the Happier at Work podcast, I’m so delighted to have you as my guest today. And I’m so excited for what this conversation is going to hold, lots and lots of topics to discuss, you know, and a huge area of interest to me. Do you want to introduce yourself to listeners tell them a little bit of a flavor of what you do and how you got into doing what you’re doing?
Jennifer Smith 03:14
Sure, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. So I’m Jennifer Smith. I’m the founder and CEO of Scribe that’s scribehow.com. We are a productivity SaaS company based in the San Francisco Bay area. But we’ve got teammates around the world now. I originally started my career as a management consultant at McKinsey, which functionally meant I spent most of my time nine to five in operation centers, trying to figure out how to make them more productive. If you’ve ever done any kind of like optimisation organisation type work as a consultant in an ops center. You know, the name of the game is you go in and you try to figure out who’s the best agent in this op center. And you go into next to them and you befriend them, and you say, hey, what are you doing differently? Why why are you performing better than everyone else? And they would pull out a really thick binder and thunk it down on the desk. I’m dating myself this is back when people used binders 15 years ago, and
Aoife O’Brien 04:11
That made total sense to me when you said that!
Jennifer Smith 04:19
Back in the day when we printed things out
Aoife O’Brien 04:21
Yeah, when we printed things out single side. I remember those days and then they brought in double sided and no colour printing only black and white.
Jennifer Smith 04:31
And remember how much faster it came out? like from the inkjet days you know where it would take like three minutes to get a single, or even like laser dot. You remember those? Oh, yeah. Dial up internet we could we could go down a soldier lane.
Aoife O’Brien 04:46
Jennifer Smith 04:49
Agents behaviours, here’s what I was trained to do. Right? It took a while for me to like memorise what’s in this manual. Usually you have like two three weeks just kind of people trying to train, but you know what? I found 30 shortcuts instead, and here’s what I do differently, my team would write that down in PowerPoint, then tell that back to our clients for a whole bunch of money. And I always thought at the time, like, gosh, if that person had just had a platform, a way to share what they knew how to do, they could have had a really big impact on that ops center, right, they didn’t need me and my Lenovo ThinkPad, writing it down for them. And especially in a lot of these ops centers, you know, we would see turnover of almost 100% in a given year. So you’re talking about like pretty high training costs, people who are clearly not very engaged in their jobs, you can understand why there’s like all tabbing, between 10 different screens all day long, just trying to remember what they’re supposed to be doing and getting through quickly. And you’ve got people who have figured out better ways of doing things. But that’s not getting shared across anyone else. And so there’s kind of innovation happening. And I always thought, like, God, that feels like a pretty obvious problem, like someone should solve that someday. And I just kind of went on my merry way, went to Harvard Business School, continued consulting for a bit eventually found my way, you know, living in the Bay Area, I got got seduced by technology and startups, so went over to the venture capital side, and spent a lot of my time talking to buyers of enterprise software in that role. I got really curious, why do people buy software? What problems are they trying to solve what problems still exist, that software hasn’t solved yet that it should, and I kept hearing the same theme over and over again, people would say, you know, gosh, I have all of these like fancy tools, we can talk about automation and all these things, but, but like, at the core of the day, my people are showing up to work nine to five and their fingers on keyboard, and they’re creating value for my company. That’s great. I have an entire HR department that thinks about, like, how to optimise that talent and what they’re doing. But what about the things they know how to do like that, just that walks out the door every day at 5pm. And I gotta hope it comes back. And I try to capture it from those people. But that’s not a fun ask if I tell someone like, hey, take some time away from your job. And please write down what you know how to do. Even though functionally, people end up spending a lot of their time sharing that usually not even something is scalable, s writing, right? It’s like,
Aoife O’Brien 07:02
what’s springing up for me is, it seems like you’re kind of writing yourself out of a job. And so if you write about how you do your job, then no, I don’t mean that they don’t need that person anymore. But not that it makes the job obsolete. But it could be that that gets passed on to someone else then quite easily and are you just disposable to the organisation then?
Jennifer Smith 07:25
You know, I get that concern sometimes from folks. But then we go and talk to users. So spoiler alert, our software makes it really easy to capture and share what you know how to do and more in a second about what about what how that works. But you know, we we get that concern when I tell people what we do. And then I talked to my users, and none of them ever raised that as a concern. You know, they say to me, instead, you’re like, gosh, I constantly get asked how to do this thing. I’m spending a lot of my time on Zoom or, if we’re sitting in person tapping my shoulder, hey, quickly, can you just show me how or I’m writing out emails trying to explain this to people. These are folks in companies who are helpful people, and they’re knowledgeable people, oftentimes, they’re, you know, senior, most tenured expert employees, and, and they want to be helping others and do something, right. But it’s a serious tax on their time. And that’s a problem for them, obviously, but it’s a really big problem when you multiply it across all the people in your company.
Aoife O’Brien 08:24
Yeah. Yeah. And the amount of time it takes. Yeah.
Jennifer Smith 08:27
Exactly. And now you’ve got two people on both sides who are doing something that’s very unscalable. Which is this constant, interrupt driven? Wait, can you show me? How do I can you just sorry, one second, quickly, can you explain to me how to do this? How many of us hear that?
Aoife O’Brien 08:40
I’m sure so many people listening today can relate to that, because I certainly can relate to that. And, and I, I suppose I never thought it was a problem. It’s a way of building relationships. But with the amount of time that it takes, especially as you gain expertise in a specific area, the more and more questions that that come your way is is pretty astounding.
Jennifer Smith 09:03
I love that you said that. You never thought it was a problem, because I think that’s exactly it. It was like a problem hiding in plain sight. Yeah, because we just accepted this was the cost of doing business of working. Well, of course, I’m not gonna know how to do everything. Like of course, I’m gonna have to ask people or people are gonna have to ask me all the time. And I’m gonna repeat myself a lot, right? That’s just sort of the way it is. And, and when we were all in person together, that usually was someone like tapping you on the shoulder or popping their head over the cubicle. And it’s like, also kind of a social visit. And so you say, Oh, I don’t I don’t really mind that, you know, I just got interrupted by what I’m doing. There’s a huge cognitive cost to that. Right? Yeah. That’s just just the way it is. And then we went remote, you know, with with COVID. And I think it just became even more apparent to people, which is instead of that friendly head popping up right next to you. It’s like, it’s that notification on Slack. It’s that additional email. It’s that one more Zoom meeting, right. Yeah. And, you know, you look at estimates of what this takes And I used to work at McKinsey for seven years. So I look at their research and their research suggests that people spend 20% of their time, one in five days of a workweek, just trying to find answers on how to do something, or explain to someone how to do something. So those fun little small interruptions add up to something that’s really, really big. And you’re totally right. Most people don’t even think that it’s a problem until you kind of pointed out and then they’re like, Well, wait a minute. Yeah, you’re kind of right, that does happen a lot. So a fun exercise for everyone, just kind of like, you know, tomorrow when you’re at work, think about how many times you get interrupted by someone asking you how to do something or you yourself trying to figure it out.
Aoife O’Brien 10:39
I think that’s a great exercise and really practical as well, for people to just have a think or throughout the day just came to, you know, like, if you’re in a German beer garden, and you’re adding like the little dashes to your, your beer mat. So you know how many beers you’ve had to you know, how much to pay at the end. So if you’re, if you’re doing dashes throughout the day to say, Well, how many times have I been asked about, you know, and you might think about what is at the are being asked about as well. So it’s so yeah, it’s so interesting. I never knew it was a problem. And so I suppose the first thing that I’m kind of thinking is, how, how would that differ to something like sharing information on the likes of slack or instructional videos, or having a Google Doc with SOPs, like standard operating procedures and things like that? How talk to me about how is it slightly different to that?
Jennifer Smith 11:31
Yeah, so there’s two kinds, I like you kind of could paint a spectrum, right? I’m gonna try not to get too philosophical. But I think about this a lot. In the world of software, you could sort of paint a spectrum, right of like, how ephemeral is the is the communication? Is it something that’s very referenceable and exists over time, that’s something like your wiki or your Google Doc. On the other hand, and those tend to take longer to produce, right? Someone has to sit down, it’s quite manual, you really, if you’re reading an SOP, you are literally copy pasting screenshots, you’re writing it out, it’s probably taking you anywhere from 20 minutes to two days, depending on on how tough it is. Yeah. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have things that are pretty low friction, really easy to do, they don’t take a lot of time. And that would be like sending someone a Slack, right? Or hitting a quick, you know, just taking a really quick zoom meeting. They’ve, those kinds of tools have done a really great job of reducing the friction, it’s so much easier to do you just press a button and boom, here you are, you type a sentence and boom, it’s sent to someone. But those are not referenceable communications, right? If I asked you how to do something in Slack, or you give me some kind of information, and like, it’s probably gone forever, I get it, I get it that one time and then that’s it. It’s buried in our thread. So with scribe we thought about how do we make something that is really low friction and easy, but endures over time. And when it comes to documentation, which basically capturing how to do something, sometimes I feel like documentation is a four letter word for people, because they think about that, you know, three hour experience of manually writing out something they already had figured out how to do. It’s like not fun problem solving. Right? Yeah. But it actually can be quite important. And and we said, well, what if we could make documentation automatic? What if we could watch you do the thing you already know how to do? And automatically write out step by step written instructions with screenshots? Technology makes that possible today, like what if we could make documentation a digital exhaust, it’s just the byproduct of you doing what you already know how to do. And so that’s what we’ve created with Scribe. I mean, very simply, it’s it just just so folks know, it’s desktop application browser extension doesn’t matter, you click the record button, you do some process. So like, you’re a salesperson, like you’re in HR, and you’ve got to add a new onboard a new employee into workday or something right. And wherever your HMS is, you click record and you just onboard that new employee. When you’re done, you click stop record, and Scribe will auto generate step by step written instructions with screenshots on how to onboard a new employee into the HMI system. So you don’t have to do any additional work. What what kind of like cool unlock would that be in the world? If now, the best of what everyone knows how to do is automatically available to everyone else. And it didn’t take any additional time for that expert to share what they knew how to do. What if you made sort of their special know how around best practices or even just how to use a new tool that you’re rolling out at your company or a process that has changed? What if you made that immediately available to everyone else in a way that didn’t take any time away from that experts job? What if you could scale the best of what everyone knows how to do to everyone else? So we get really excited about what that means is an unlock first for that person. They’re saving that one day a week, which is a non trivial amount of time. But then for that organisation too because oh my gosh, now if you go back to my you know, ops centers back when I was, you know, in my 20s as a consultant, like now you don’t need a Jennifer with a ThinkPad running around and capturing what everyone’s saying, like now it’s just automatically available. What could you do with that?
Aoife O’Brien 15:12
Yeah, yeah. I mean, this opens up a whole host of questions for me. And like, frankly, I’m sold. I’m like this. This podcast episode is not sponsored by Scribe, by the way. But I’m sold already. I’m like, This sounds incredible. And one of the questions that I have, and this is kind of maybe going off topic slightly, but like, if you’re saying it’s the best people, and it’s best practice, how do you determine or suppose you know, are people putting their hands up and saying, I know the best way to do this, or I know the fastest way to do this? Or? I’m the expert in this area? Or, you know, how do you determine who is the right person to actually record the process?
Jennifer Smith 15:50
Yeah, that’s a really great question. Because if you think about even just the analog of how this happens today in a company, right, like, Hey, I’m new to a company, or or I’ve been here for five years, and I just got to do something, and I’m not quite sure how to do it. One of the, you maybe like, you go to a wiki or something to try to find the info odds that you find it are pretty low, because, you know, most of the time processes are not documented, right? So then it really becomes like, Who do I ask? Do I ask someone or try to figure out on my own? And if I’m gonna ask someone who like who becomes a really important question? Yeah. And you’ll find it oftentimes their ideas, like hubs of knowledge of people within the company, and everyone knows to go to that person for this kind of question. Yeah. But But often, you know, also, people will just ask, like, Who’s the person sitting next to them? Or who is the person who is friendliest? Or is like, fastest to respond to slack? Right. So true. Yeah. You almost have like this gray market of information, it’s pretty inefficient, right?
Aoife O’Brien 16:51
It could be good information, it could be bad information. You don’t really know.
Jennifer Smith 16:56
That’s right. That’s right. And like, sometimes it’s no information because, okay, fair. Yeah. You ask someone? And they’re like, oh, yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know what you asked for that you still throw your hands up. And that is what it is. So that’s a really hard problem to know, you know, where do you go? Who do you go to? And we think about solving that in a bit more of a crowdsourced way. Frankly, we’ve got some customers who will say like, No, I know who my people are, who know how to do things. And like, yeah, the ones I’m going to ask to create, Scribe, there’s always like a few of those people in a company. It’s always so interesting. When I talk to folks, they’re like, we’re gonna give this to Cheryl, like we know Cheryl’s the one who secretly runs this company, to make sure she knows how to do. Yeah. But when you’re talking about much bigger companies, like it’s hard to identify who those people are, and so what you often see as the best content rises to the top, and we think a lot about how do we design feedback loops and mechanisms for that, right. So
Aoife O’Brien 17:53
I was gonna say, can you have like, votes and things like that on? Yeah, exactly.
Jennifer Smith 17:57
Exactly. And like they that feedback can go to number of different people, and they can use that information in different ways to, you know, figure out what, what best practices are? Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 18:07
And is it just for processes? Or can you use it for like knowledge gathering efforts as well? Or how does that work?
Jennifer Smith 18:15
We’re really focused on procedural know how, all kinds of know how that’s really important to capture, right? In a company. And I would argue companies think a lot already about, you know, the, the, like, sort of what of your job like, you’re, you’re a salesperson, great, we’re gonna teach you like, what our product is, we’re gonna be teaching, you know how to run an effective sales, conversation and do discovery, that sort of thing. Where we often see training kind of formal training falls short is then your like but and see, and maybe it’s your first week, maybe it’s your first year, maybe it’s your 10th year, and you got to, like, generate that report in Salesforce or something, you know, and you do that, like, once a quarter, and I don’t know, maybe your interface changes, you know, and you’re just like, I just got to do this thing, and no one has formerly trained you on it. So you’re either like Googling, trying to find it, or again, you’re asking the person sitting next to you. Yeah. So there’s all this like informal, how? that we just assume people will learn on the job by asking each other. And the informal peer to peer learning. And peer to peer learning is great. Don’t get me wrong, but you want to save peer to peer learning for things that truly require, like in person coaching, right? Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 18:35
Yeah. And I’m thinking right now of expense reports, when you have to fill out expense reports, like once a quarter or once a month, whatever it might be, however, often you have to do it. And like the laborious nature of having to do that and you forget exactly what you did the last time and, you know, it’s not part of your day to day activities. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people who can relate it to me that if I could refer back to something that I did a step by step, and helped me to do that more efficiently without having to disturb one of my colleagues, I think that would be really, really important. And I also presume, Jennifer, that it’s really important part of the onboarding process when someone comes, especially in this remote and hybrid working situation that when someone comes on board, that it becomes, you know, kind of critical for them to be able to learn how to do stuff without. And I don’t mean this in a bad way, but without having to disturb their colleagues when they could have much better interactions, more relational interactions, rather than transactional interactions with their colleagues.
Jennifer Smith 20:34
Yeah, exactly, especially with, you know, the great resignation, we talked to a lot of companies for, like, you know, I’ve had, I’ve had really big turnover, and it is a double whammy, right, which is, some of my most experienced people left. Yeah, so I’ve lost some of that knowledge. And now I’ve got some new people coming in the door. And so now that the people who have been here for a while are really pinched, because a they’re trying to do all the work. And now you’ve got all these new people coming in, and you’re trying to do like this knowledge transfer to these new people as well. And you want to make sure that the new people have a really great experience coming in and they’re not sitting there at their computers, you know, not sure what to do. There’s, there’s nothing more disempowering than even that expense, or, for example, such a good one, like, imagine you’re new, and you’re like, you get the email on Friday, you got to file your expense reports. And you’re like, what, how do I do that? Yeah, you know, and you’re like, Oh, I’m not gonna bother someone, because, you know, I’ve got more important things to ask people. So I’m just gonna sit here for a while and click around and try to figure it out. And you know, that’s okay. But that’s not a great experience. And you add on those small things over time, and it’s, it’s pretty disempowering. And so I think when you’re onboarding someone, there’s, I think about the the, like, the why the what the who and how, and what are the key things they have to know how to do and hopefully, they know the why by the time they come in the door, if you’ve run a good recruiting process, they understand, like, why what you’re doing with this company is important.
Aoife O’Brien 21:57
Why the company exists in the first place?
Jennifer Smith 22:02
Why? Why are you hiring me for this role? Why am I agreeing to spend my precious time doing it? Right, I hopefully I’ve already bought into, like, why this is important. And you know, maybe even during the recruiting process a bit, you gave me a sense of who I’m going to be working with, who are those people I ask questions to? And what is it that I’m going to be doing? Right, and there’s usually some kind of formal program, when I come in of like, you know, at the most extreme, I’ve talked to some folks who were, you know, on boarded remotely, especially during the pandemic for companies that, like, sort of all of a sudden, were thrust into this. And they’re like, I had two weeks of pre recorded videos, and I just sat at my computer for eight hours a day, and I watched pre recorded videos and it was the worst experience of my life. So, you know, it varies on how companies approached that, but you’ve got some kind of, you know, training on like, here’s what you’re going to be doing, where I often see things fall short, is that how, again, of all of that, like, okay, great, you understand what you’re doing, you know, you know, your purpose, you know, your tasks. Now, you’re like fingers on keyboard trying to work in our software. And it’s different than the one you worked at your previous company, it’s a different way here. And you got to figure out what to do. And again, usually your option is you just rely on that informal learning, and you really hope that you’ve got like a buddy, next to you, or like, respond..
Aoife O’Brien 23:18
You’ve got a friend in Google as well.
Jennifer Smith 23:20
Exactly. Right. And you’re like you’re Googling and you’re really good at, you gotta hope it like translate to what you’re exactly. And that’s, you know, that’s, that’s not an empowering experience for someone else.
Aoife O’Brien 23:31
No, definitely not. And like, I mean, we’ve, we’ve talked an awful lot about the software and what it does, I’d love to kind of take a more of a helicopter view of the issues that you see around productivity in general, any, anything that that’s kind of screaming out to you at the moment that needs to be addressed in organisations, whether you know, whether it’s with the client organisations that you work with, or, more more broadly, that you that you’re seeing out there?
Jennifer Smith 23:58
You know, I’ll say something that will probably quite surprise you, given that I am the CEO of a productivity technology company where I make productivity software. I think we have too many opportunities to collaborate together in some way. Okay. Yeah. I think we are suffering from collaboration overload. Yeah. Where, and what I mean by that is, you could spend most of your day if you look at your calendar, and how you spend your time, probably got big chunks of time that are spent on Zoom. I mean, if you’re, if you’re like most people, right, you’re in like a lot of meetings down. And then you’ve got email that’s coming at you. And then you’ve got pings on Slack, or teams, or whatever it is that you’re using and people asking things. And so you could go full eight hour workday, and at the end of the day, go, Oh, I did so much work today. I’m so exhausted, right? It’s because you were busy all day long. But all you did was communicate with your co workers. Right, and like and maybe that’s the entirity of your job but but for most people, there’s like another output component to it, right. And so you could go the entire day, having helped a whole bunch of people and done a bunch of work or felt like you helped a bunch of people, and certainly like, you know, put a lot of hours into it, but not actually have moved the ball forward on whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve and what you’re trying to do. And so if you go back to kind of like my, my sort of esoteric chart that I was talking about it, like the fact that we’ve reduced friction on miscommunication, so much is, is great in so many ways. We’ve bridged gaps, we made it so much easier for companies to hire people anywhere in the world and access great talent, all these wonderful things, people have more flexibility. But it also means it’s just so much easier for someone to demand some of your time. Right, where it’s like, Oh, hey, let’s let’s just hop on a zoom together, alright, and go through it. And then you spend, we’re here, there’s for my customers all the time, they’re like, oh, yeah, when I have questions on how to do something, whatever, like, I’ll just hop on a zoom with my co-worker. And like, we spend the first 5-10 minutes chatting, it’s great to see them. And then they’ll share their screen. And we like we go through what they’re supposed to be doing. And it’s great, and I feel good, I hang up. And then I get distracted. And then I go to do that thing. They showed me how to do and I forgot. And then I gotta like either I tell them I forgot or like I sit there and I try to figure. And now you’ve taken two people’s time for, you know, like a pretty chunk, you know, a pretty real portion of their day, in something that’s really not scalable. So I always love to think I’m obsessed with efficiency and productivity. And I love to think about how can you take things and make them scalable? Like media like software? These are things that are infinitely scalable? How can you take some of the best parts of people and what they know how to do and make that scalable?
Aoife O’Brien 26:56
Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely love that. I’m a huge, huge believer in in all sorts of efficiency and productivity. And all of those, like, even when I worked in corporate, I was so interested in, like, is there a day of the week? Is there a time of the day that we do our best work? And like, you know, how do we be more efficient with our time, and you’re so right, I think in we’re living in such a connected world now. And having so many meetings, and so many touch points throughout the day makes us feel like we’re really busy, when, in fact, it hasn’t done anything to move the dial on what it is that we’re supposed to be doing towards, you know, towards our objectives towards the company’s objectives. So I think it’s really, really important. And what I see like one of the big trends that I see out there with the shift, you know, the future of work, which is happening right before our eyes, there’s this shift in mentality away from input in in terms of time and energy that we expend at work and a shift more towards focusing on the outcomes that we achieve, which should have been the case all along. But if you think of people’s mentality, it’s often that, you know, I worked X number of hours, it’s not I delivered X or I produced y, it was more, I worked this number of hours. And, you know, is it the Parkinson law, where if you have two weeks to complete something, you’re going to fill that entire two weeks, whereas if, if someone says, I want that in two days, then you probably produce the same result in within a couple of days, within reason, you know, you’re not being a perfectionist, I’m trying to make everything all bells and whistles. So I definitely see that that trend happening out there. When it comes to these things like getting, getting sort of distracted and feeling like we’re busy, but not actually kind of being productive. What what do you see as the solution to those kinds of things?
Jennifer Smith 28:53
Yeah, I first of all, I think recognising it, like you said is so important, like even that mindset shift. And you know, we’re a Silicon Valley technology company, and I had to fight it every day with my team. We’re oftentimes people will say, like, Oh, I feel like we need to collaborate on this more. Let’s bring in you know, Meg and Tony and Charles. And I had to like timeout. Are there more than three people in a meeting? What are we doing? Do we have? are we deciding something here? Like what is the output that we’re not bringing more people together and just for the sake of, you know, collaboration, which frankly, is motherhood and apple pie, like you only collaborate for means to an end so what is that end we’re trying to achieve? So you know, every time you you do have a meeting meetings are important, you know, I believe like, you need to do them, but you need to be more judicious about when you have them. So when you have a meeting, be clear about like, who are the must have people only? Yes, so so you can just get like a short FYI afterwards. What’s the agenda and in particular, less, what are we going to discuss and more what is the outcome that we’re going to drive towards and if you don’t have a desired outcome at the end And we’re going to make a decision, then you probably shouldn’t be having a meeting, you probably have some more pre work that everyone needs to be doing before, you know, before you bring everyone together. And then thinking about how you know, you run your time and your, your calendar as well. So trying to like create, what are some of those blocks of time when you can be more in flow state and focus on what your priorities are. So I try to tell my team like at the beginning of every week, in the beginning of every day, before you open any of your email, or, or slack or anywhere where people can reach you, which by the way, your inbox is someone else’s to do item that they have for you. So before you get to other people’s to do items, stuff in the mail, like you do only three things today, like what are the three most important things that you get done, and then think about how you’re going to put that within your time and start with that first, You’re damn right. And that those are the big rocks. And then you can figure out how you feel the little rocks in between. I worked with a Time Management Coach 20 years ago now, but I imagine her advice is probably still relevant now. Where she was like, think about the big rocks in your day. And then when you’ve got all the small things, like responding to emails and notifications, and whatnot, you know, chunk it, so only do you know I’ve got a 20 minute session here. And like, that’s what I’m gonna deal with all of these things. And otherwise, I’m turning notifications off. And people know, they need to reach me really urgently. I’ve got my phone on, and they can give me a phone call. Yeah, because we treat a lot of this asynchronous communication is synchronous. Yes, yeah. 100% bonding right now. Yeah. And the context switching cost of that the cognitive load is really high. I think this is another one of those problems that you don’t really realise until you stop and think about it, like, yeah, you’re working on something, maybe you’re starting to get in the flow, you’re you’re chewing on some really meaty problem, and then ping, Hey, can you
Aoife O’Brien 31:53
and it’s so tempting, you got the dopamine!
Jennifer Smith 31:56
You want the dopamine hit, because as soon as you see the notification, you start thinking about the response you’ve already lost. Because you either you’ve answered right in that moment, because you’ve already changed the gear and you’re starting to go. And that’s what I tried to do. Like, if I’ve seen it, I already will ask, I might as well just like bat it away and be done with it. Yeah. And if the worst is if you don’t, because then you’ve seen it. You’ve thought about the answer. You lost the distraction, and then you still have to come back to it later.
Aoife O’Brien 32:21
Yeah it’s weighing on your mind twice? One of the challenges I see out there all the time is this idea. So it’s kind of building on the point that you have. And I love all of these points about, you know, who are the must have people at a meeting? Because I think the temptation often is just to invite everyone or CC people and the way we invite people might feel excluded, but deciding who needs to be there? And what type of meeting it is, is it is it a decision and I love this, you know, what is the outcome. And if you haven’t decided what the outcome is, you need to do some more work around that. And then there’s time blocking. But I think one of the things I see is that the it’s easy, and it’s comfortable. And it’s reactive, to open up your emails and respond to something else that’s on someone else’s to do list because it’s it’s easy, and it’s familiar, rather than sitting and thinking. And I think maybe this is something that people are a little bit afraid of that if they spend a bit of time actually using their brain and thinking for a while it takes it takes up so much energy it takes up. Like, like you said, if you have a big meaty problem that you’re getting your teeth into, and then you get distracted by it. It’s kind of an easy out to get away from that difficult problem that you’re you’re trying to solve, you know, and it’s so comfortable. Like, do you see that the people are falling into these habits of Oh, yes, I’m just going to blindly attend this meeting that I probably don’t need to be in because that’s comfortable. And I’ve been invited to it. And I don’t really want to say no. Or it’s easy for me to keep my emails open or to check my emails throughout the day. Because, you know, then I’m I feel like I’m being productive. I feel like I’m doing a lot of work, even if I’m not necessarily reaching my objectives for the day.
Jennifer Smith 34:12
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I find myself doing this a lot too, which is, okay, I’ve got got 20 minutes right now. And I could, you know, work on something really hard. Or I could just go bat away some emails. Yes. It’s so much easier to be like, isn’t it? No, yeah. And I think it’s because we, for some reason, want to feel really busy. I think we’re feeling busy. And when
Aoife O’Brien 34:39
When we’re busy, we’re important Jennifer. Didn’t you know?
Jennifer Smith 34:42
I guess I had to join this meeting. You know, they really care about my opinion. And like, and you know, I’m sure they do, but But oftentimes people are pulling people into meetings too, because they don’t know who’s accountable and like you want to spread it around. Yeah. Yeah. That’s sort of the natural feeling when you’re starting Like, Oh, I’m not quite sure we should bring this person in for their opinion, this person in for that opinion. And I try very hard at my company to say one person is accountable for one specific thing, this is your metric, you’re the one who owns it. If you want to bring in other people in you can, that’s great. But like it’s you at the end.
Aoife O’Brien 35:15
It rests on you. It’s your decision. I think that like a lot of leaders need to be empowered to make those decisions. And they need not only to be empowered, but but reiterated that look like you can get people, you can get information from other people, but they’re not going to make the decision for you. That’s why we pay you good money, because you are here to make those decisions to make those calls. And if it was the wrong decision, you need to accept responsibility for that as well. You know, like celebrate wins, but also take responsibility for the losses.
Jennifer Smith 35:48
And I don’t even worry that much about wrong decisions. I worry about no decisions. So yes, yeah, fine. You made the wrong decision. No big deal. You know, there, you’re going to make some wrong decisions. Welcome to being human. At least we made a decision and we tried something we learned from it, and we can move on versus, you know, death by committee.
Aoife O’Brien 36:05
Yeah, this is a question I think a lot of companies suffer with that is the committee decision making where, you know, it’s by who’s gonna say, by public vote, but you’re kind of almost doing a show of hands around the room. And it’s a democracy. But that’s not what businesses are all about. It’s, it’s about giving people responsibility for his very specific areas, very specific functions and responsibility for making decisions in those areas.
Jennifer Smith 36:29
Right, right. I want to come back quickly to like the you’ve got the 20 minutes, and it’s easier to go and, you know, like, just send an email or something. Yeah, what what I tried to do to counter that is, on the days that I’m being good, and I wish I could say this every day. I don’t do this every day, but on I tried to do it most days. You know, when I wake up, I will think about what is it that I want to achieve today? What are my big rock priorities? And I like to post it note on my computer.
Aoife O’Brien 36:52
So it’s Yeah, I love a good post it note, Jennifer.
Jennifer Smith 36:52
They are great right. Technology at its finest. And so when you’ve got that 20 minutes now, your brain almost panics because it’s like, Oh, my God, I’m not going to be busy for 20 minutes. What am I supposed to be doing? Am I even important in all these things? But then if you can just quickly look at your post it and be like, Okay, wait, I know what I’m supposed to be doing. Okay, all right, I’m gonna focus on this for 20 minutes, you now have like, given yourself something to anchor on, which is, again, more of your agenda than the communications. And you know, hopefully, over time, you get yourself more comfortable with more and more kind of free time, I just saw a really great quote from a founder. I read a lot of, you know, from from folks who have founded and scaled companies, just because I think it’s really fascinating and obviously relevant to what I’m doing here. And he said, like, look, when I first started my company, I’d stare at my calendar, and it was completely blank, because we had no product and no customers. And that terrified me. And I was like, gosh, I can’t wait until this is full of all really important things, you know, and then he’s like, and then my company scaled, and my calendar got really, really busy. And I realised I needed to go back to that state before because the reason I was able to build a great product that attracted great customers was because I had all of this uninterrupted time to really think about what was important and think from first principles. And so I think we talked about it a lot. I you know, I hear like a lot of podcasts and things where people like, create chunks of time on your calendar, free space. But you know, I don’t have any calendars you look at from like, all the calendars I’ve ever seen of people, it’s like double booked blocks everywhere, you know, Tetris, there’s any like beautiful, wide open chunks of time.
Aoife O’Brien 38:38
I, I to be honest, I try to do that. I try to have meetings only on a Tuesday and a Thursday and leave Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for stuff. It doesn’t always happen. But typically a Monday is fairly free for me for planning the week for, for doing that kind of the deep work, the planning, the strategising, and then Friday, sometimes I have meetings Thursdays, like my podcasting day. So we’re recording this on a Thursday, and then Wednesday, again, the deep work. And then you know, I try not to have calls. But it’s also thinking about like, even if you’re having one on one calls, what is going back to what we were saying kind of at the start, what is the reason behind having this, this one to one call, like is this? Am I answering someone’s question that they have about how to do something? Or is it relationship building? You know, going back to the purpose of this, and I suppose I would really encourage people to look how you’re spending your time and I do talk, or I have spoken on another podcast episode about this idea of, you know, measuring how you’re spending your time and that’s not to share with your organisation to say, you know, this is you know, from a because oftentimes I think from an organisational perspective, and I’ve seen this like when they look to measure how people’s time has been spent. It’s kind of like to, to admonish them in some way to kind of punish them maybe. But this is really for your own understanding to see like, Okay, how many? How much time am I spending on emails? How much time am I spending working on this deck? How much time am I spending in meetings? How much time was spending? Chatting? Am I getting distracted? I was gonna say, How much am I spending on social media? But like, are you getting distracted by social media and be honest about it as well, because it happens, happens to everyone I think you got, you know, you might get a notification or something like that. I’ve actually, I don’t have my work emails on my phone. So that’s one thing, and I’ve turned off the notifications on my laptop, so I won’t get a notification. I won’t say that. You know, that doesn’t stop me going in and refreshing and checking. Have I gotten any new emails? You know, the dopamine hit, I’m not immune. I’m human too. And, but like, certainly social media notifications and things like that, when they pop up, you know, they they are quite, quite, quite distracting.
Jennifer Smith 41:09
They’re designed to be that way. There’s some really smart product managers on the other side, who are like, Ah, how do I get people to come back more often?
Aoife O’Brien 41:15
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, when you have to go into a website, and we’re talking back and back in the olden days, like 15 years ago, when Facebook first came of age, you have to go to a website, and you have to log in with your details, you know, you’re probably checking it once a day. But now Oh, God, I dread to think how often I will check on the various different social media channels, but I have gone through spells where I’ve taken them off my phone, I’ve gone through spells where I’ve turned off notifications, actually, I don’t have any Facebook notifications on my phone at the moment. So I don’t see if I have a new notification, I have to physically go into the app to see if there is a new notification. And my phone is quite often on Do Not Disturb as well. So I don’t. But having said all of these and having put all of this into place, it doesn’t stop the temptation to want to check your phone to see if you’ve had any notifications, even if I’m not getting that kind of audio and visual cue that there is something new coming through.
Jennifer Smith 42:13
Yeah, it’s I try to your body will always default to like the lowest friction way. And social media has tried to design itself. So it’s very low friction, you literally click the button, you know, and on your phone, and boom, it comes up with all these shiny images and things that are designed to you know, attract your attention. And so I talked about like, what are what are ways you can add friction, you’re trying to make the things you want yourself to do as easy as possible. And the things you don’t want yourself to do as hard as possible. So you know, even like simple things like you’re hiding the app. If even if you have it on your phone, it’s like all the way on your last page. You got to scroll and it’s like nested under another. Yeah, yeah, I’ve got like a screen time limit, right. So I get 15 minutes a day. Usually I spend it on LinkedIn and and then that’s it. And after that, I’ve got to like do some complicated stuff to make it come back, you know, for longer periods of time. So even just finding like ways to slightly nudge yourself where you say like, what it’s like the same concept is healthy eating right? Yeah, like the bag of potato chips is super easy. It’s easier than like cooking a meal. I’m tasty. Three, shot four and all these things. But like, what if you what if it was flipped? What if you had to make your own potato chips? Or you had like a premade? healthy salad to go? Which do you think you need more often? Yeah, yeah, humans default to like to low friction stuff, because we’ve got so much we’re trying to balance in our days, our brains are so overloaded by everything
Aoife O’Brien 43:36
Decision fatigue. So if you don’t have to make a decision, yeah, then it becomes a lot easier. Jennifer, coming back to this idea of the the collaboration overload any additional thoughts on on what we can do? Like? Is it a case of saying no to meetings? Is it a case of blocking out time in your diary to get that deep work done? And you know, what, any other thoughts around that that whole concept of the of too much collaboration, essentially?
Jennifer Smith 44:04
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s both what you can do as an individual. And then if you’re a manager, or you’re thinking about this for a team, or Yeah, like, what are the norms and things that you want to role models, we talked about some of the things you can do as an individual, like, pushing back on what are the meetings I actually have to be part of, and if you feel like you don’t have enough air cover for that, having a conversation with your manager where you you pull up your calendar, and you say, let’s look at my calendar. Look how many meetings I’m in 15 meetings?
Aoife O’Brien 44:30
Yeah. Yeah. Which sounds that sounds pretty normal.
Jennifer Smith 44:33
And like they’re in there an hour each. Yeah. And that means I’ve got X number of hours left to actually do all these things that you and I have agreed. Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 44:42
And presumably there’s actions from the meetings and there’s pre work for the meetings as well. Let’s not forget that so you know, add on a few extra hours for all of that stuff.
Jennifer Smith 44:52
Yeah, can you please help me go through and prioritise do I actually need to be at all of these? Yeah, right or cover for me, you know, if we decide But I don’t need to be in any. And like as a manager, again, I said I tried to run around literally, if I see a roomful of more than three people in my body, I will walk in. And I’ll be like, Hey, guys, what’s this meeting? What are we talking about? Yeah. What are we trying to decide here? I
Aoife O’Brien 45:16
love that as a rule, because three, it’s, it seems like why would you need more than three people in a meeting? Just wanna, you know, and I, again, I’d love from listeners to be challenged on that, like, are you having these massive big, big, big meetings? Aside from you know, the kind of the obvious thing that springs to my mind is a town hall, which is, you know, that’s kind of a not really a meeting. It’s more of an announcement.
Jennifer Smith 45:35
Right? Yeah. I mean, I can think of some exception we do our town halls are, like, made a big kind of brainstorm session on something. Yeah. And he said, Well, hey, that’d be really fun to have, like a few different people from different perspectives around a whiteboard, you know, in the output of this is like, clear, it’s a brainstorming on the sets of topics. But yeah, the ones that I think are the are the worst, are the standing weekly meetings, so yeah, bi weekly, or whatever.
Aoife O’Brien 46:01
Why are we having this weekly team meeting, what is the what is the purpose of this?
Jennifer Smith 46:06
Like, oh, I’m, I’m collaborative, you know, oh, we
Aoife O’Brien 46:09
I’m so busy and important. Right, right.
Jennifer Smith 46:13
And like it feels good and it’s what we think is work. But, you know, reach retraining yourself to question if you’re the attendee, and then again, if you’re a manager, or the person kind of setting the culture for your team, yeah, like, what, what actually needs to be happening here, and you can role model the same thing on email and slack and others where, you know, you can say like, Okay, guys, I’m checking it five times a day. Right? And and if you need to reach me outside of those times, like call my cell phone, or whatever it is, like, yeah, urgent things. And that is what it is. And you now set like a new tone where people don’t feel like they have to be constantly responding, because that’s how they look like they’re on top of their jobs. Right is because you’ve changed the cultural norm now.
Aoife O’Brien 46:58
I read something earlier today, actually, about that. I think it was, you know, one of these clickbait type of headlines where they talked about Elon Musk, saying that he he believes that no work gets done remotely. And he’s probably right, I think was the headline. So you’re like, oh, that’s, that’s quite an interesting thing. I’m going to click into that. But what they talked about was there’s pressure on people to always be on and appear online. Whereas when you’re in the office, you might do you might innovate for a cup of coffee, you might stop by someone’s desk for a chat, or you might just be away from your desk for a few minutes. And that’s okay. Whereas the pressure at home, kind of going back to the point about like being always on and responding on Slack immediately responding to emails immediately to show. It’s like a new form of it’s like digital presenteeism, rather than regular office presenteeism, where you’re just being seen in the office, and therefore you’re busy because you’re there until 6pm, or 7pm, or 9pm. Whereas this is, it’s it’s always being on because you’re at home, and you’re at home anyway, especially during the pandemic, I think, was a huge issue.
Jennifer Smith 48:08
Right? Yeah. I mean, you’ve got people to like, you know, go for a walk with their dog in the middle of the day, and they bring their phone and they’re like, responding to slack just so like no one thinks that they’re shirking. Right. Yeah. That becomes particularly nefarious. If you say, I want to take like you said, you know, I take my blocks of time when I’m doing work, right. And so what our team will do, you can put like little emojis next to your Slack status symbol thing, right? But like people will do like headphones when they’re working to try brilliant Yeah, the first hour working when we when we worked in person together, we had developed like, post it note colors, which basically like if you put like, read up, it meant like, I’m heads down working right now. Please don’t come by my desk. Yeah, right. Right. And green meant like, Oh, I’m doing some lighter tasks, like you’re welcome to come by. And yeah, me. Yeah. And engineers are like particularly notorious for doing this. Because they really you have to be quite in flow when you’re creating.
Aoife O’Brien 49:00
Yeah, absolutely. I have seen now speaking of technology, I have seen that that technology exists where you can put it at your desk, and you can kind of have a have a traffic light system to indicate to other people whether or not you’re open to being disturbed.
Jennifer Smith 49:12
Right. But we don’t we don’t usually do that in the digital world. You just assume everyone’s open to being disturbed.
Aoife O’Brien 49:18
Yeah, absolutely. And so coming, I suppose coming back to productivity in general. Is there anything else that you wanted to share before we wrap things up on the podcast today?
Jennifer Smith 49:27
I think, you know, people, there’s like, we talk a lot about productivity. I think we care a lot about it. It scratches the sort of like, again, human itch of like, how do I feel really busy, but like I’m doing really important stuff. And that’s good and great. But I would start with like the first question of why are you trying to be more productive? What are you trying to be loved? For? Yeah, what is it that you’re trying to achieve? And then measure your productivity based on whether you’re able to achieve those things that like, I’m so productive, I collaborated with 15 people today. Right, I’m so productive, because, you know, I put together like this great presentation that my client loved.
Aoife O’Brien 50:05
No, I love that I think that’s a really great approach. Because I think what I’m seeing is a lot of people struggle, how to define productivity actually means in their organisation. And for me, it comes back to as an organisation, why do you exist? What do you here to do, and then, as a manager, understanding the contribution that your team makes, and being able to translate for each individual within the team, what their contribution means in the context of the organisation and the impact that they can have on the organisation and, and why their role is important. And I think a lot of companies really struggle to do that. And so you don’t really understand what being productive means that you’d be you’re being productive, because you’re busy, you’re being productive, because you’re doing what you’re being told, rather than thinking and questioning what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how it’s going to move to dial on the objectives on what the business is trying to achieve.
Jennifer Smith 51:00
Yeah, that’s exactly right. And you know, I’m a technologist. So I get obsessed in thinking about scale, right? So I was trying to be about like, what are the scale points on your time to like, where are the places where you can get the most leverage? And think about like, what are the things that uniquely require you at any given moment? And what are the things where you can either replace yourself or scale yourself, right? And think about that a lot with scribe, like, how do you scale what you know how to do? So you’re not spending time explaining it to everyone? One on one, right? But now it’s a one to many. And by the way, it’s just automatically happening as you’re working? But like, where are those opportunities to make things almost automatic or scalable and not a one to one? So if you’re if you’re putting something that’s like really thoughtful and detailed, and like a Slack message that’s going to one person or like a one to one meeting, but you think it’d be helpful to other people? If you probably pick me picking a different medium?
Aoife O’Brien 51:54
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 100%? Jennifer, the question I asked everyone who comes on the podcast, what is being happier at work mean to you?
Jennifer Smith 52:05
You know, I had a professor in business school who said, find the thing that you are constantly apologising for about yourself and find a way to get paid for it. Oh, I love that. So, for me, that’s, I’m obsessed with efficiency. I mean, if you were to if you were to…
Aoife O’Brien 52:21
I’m sorry for being so efficient, everyone.
Jennifer Smith 52:25
I mean, it can be annoying to people. So my husband would say, like, we go to run errands. And I’m like, plotting out our route to make sure we’re not double backing. And you know, I’m like trying to do 10 things at once.
Aoife O’Brien 52:35
Sounds like you’re exactly like me, and you’re thinking, Oh, what’s the best? And where should I go first? Because that makes more sense. And then I’m not gonna hit traffic there. And you know, you’re trying to work out all of these things in advance so that you can be more efficient, and you don’t waste time and yeah,
Jennifer Smith 52:49
Right. And, you know, with what I’m doing now, I feel like I have found a way to take that like neuroses and make it, you know, make it my job and make it about like, how do I help other people solve the problems that care a lot about. And so to me happier at work I’ve had many times in my life, when I was not happy at work, I don’t even knew it at the time. It wasn’t until I truly was happy at work that I was able to look back and say, Oh, that’s okay, I was not happiness at work. And to me, it’s working on something that I think is really important. And where I feel like it is a like a good kind of fit for what I can uniquely do. But where it’s always pushing me to do more, so I’m uncomfortable every day. And that’s the best place to be. But I’m very fortunate to work with a group of humans who I feel like that my back and really support me. So if that’s maybe a very long way of saying like, to me happy at work means finding your craft, the thing you really care about doing and maybe are already good at and want to get excellent at. And being able to do that with a group of humans who you just kind of like working with and who wants you to be better.
Aoife O’Brien 54:03
Yeah, love that. Love that approach. If people want to find out more about you, if they want to connect, if they want to know more about Scribe, what’s the best way that they can do that?
Jennifer Smith 54:11
Folks can find me personally on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active there, Jennifer Smith, folks are welcome to try out Scribe, our website is scribehow.com. We have a free product you can create and share and invite teammates, unlimited, all for free. We test this scribes used in over 100 countries, we’ve got users who don’t speak English, they’re able to create a scribe and share it with others in less than four minutes. So it’s just really gosh, darn easy. So if you are curious and have four minutes, you can check it out on our website scribehow.com.
Aoife O’Brien 54:41
Brilliant. Thank you so much for your time today, Jennifer. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with you. And really, really appreciate all the insights that you’ve shared with listeners today. Thank you.
Jennifer Smith 54:51
Yeah, this was a ton of fun. Thanks for having me.
Aoife O’Brien 54:57
I really hope you enjoyed that episode as much as Jennifer and I have enjoyed having that conversation. It was so interesting. I always love talking about things like busyness and productivity. And what it really means. Do get involved in the conversation on social media, you’ll find all of my social channels through the website happieratwork.ie. I’m mostly active on Instagram happieratwork.ie, which is kind of a behind the scenes, and also on LinkedIn, where I am probably most active and you can connect with me there through Aoife O’Brien, that’s and I would love to connect with you there. Now, some of the key points I just want to cover and I want to also challenge one of the exercises we talked at the very start of the podcast episode was thinking or, or actually measuring how many times you get interrupted in a day about trying to get help or explain how to do something. And that’s an exercise that some homework for you to do. If you want to measure how many times you actually get an interrupted when someone needs to get clarification on exactly what it is that they need to do. And that it requires you to explain to them what they need to do in a in a process sort of way. I’m conscious that we spent a lot of time at the start talking about the Scribe software, but I was just so interested in its capabilities. And what it’s able to do, which I think is brilliant, you know, it’s kind of a game changer, I think for organisations, again, not sponsored by Scribe. But I love this idea of you know, well one of the questions, I suppose, I suppose was how do you know who is the best? And so who becomes one of the most important questions, and usually that is crowd sourced. So it’s, it goes back to who would you ask this question to in an organisation. So sometimes people are self elected, if you like, and some people it’s great, or it’s rare that you kind of go to the person that you would ask, it becomes a really great opportunity when it comes to onboarding them, especially in this remote and hybrid type of working environment. Now, one of the challenges Jennifer sees as that there’s too many opportunities to collaborate, and there’s some sort of a collaboration overload for people at work, because, you know, it’s through email through zoom to Slack, and people are so so busy, and they’re so exhausted from doing all of this all the time. And it’s become a lot more easy for people to, to to manage your time. And I’ve seen a few posts recently on LinkedIn, where it’s about like, can people just book a meeting in your calendar? And sometimes that is the case. So if they see that you have some time available, if you haven’t blocked out your time to do specific type of work, for example, that they can just block in time. And it’s not even a question that they will ask your permission to be able to book in time, but they actually just do it. So it’s quite interesting. So one of the things that Jennifer said was that there needs to be a mindset shift around that. So rather than we need to collaborate more, it’s actually thinking about how do we get more focused work done? And the challenge and around having more, more than three people in the meeting? Like what is the purpose of having more than three people in a meeting or something? I suppose I personally have never really thought about it. You know, there are some exceptions, obviously. But these regular team meetings that are in the diary, just for the sake of being in the diary, just for the sake, what are you actually achieving in those? Are they taking up too much of your time that you can’t get your day to day work done, and really thinking about those kinds of things, who are the most half people that need to be in the room? What is the desired outcome of that meeting. And if it’s not clear what the desired outcome, then the person who’s organising the meeting needs to do some additional pre work before booking that meeting in. And she also spoke about how to run your calendar. So blocking time for flow, essentially. So we talked about this idea of the big rocks. So that goes back to this idea of the rocks, the pebbles and the sand. So if you put sand in the jar first, then you put in some pebbles, and there’s no room anymore in the jar for the large rocks. But if you put in the large rocks first, then you can put in some pebbles, which are a little bit smaller, and then you can fill the rest of the space with the sand. And then I’ve also seen it done with water, can we fit anything else in the jar? No. And then you add some water into the jar, and you can fit some water in. So just to kind of bring it back. So identify what those big rocks are. So what are the big important tasks and and they’re not necessarily the urgent tasks? What are the important tasks that needs to be done in that week? And how do you allocate time to get those done to make sure that you get those done and that your time is not manipulated by someone else? We talked about this idea of being busy, and I did watch a recent TEDx talk which I will share the link to in the show notes, which is really interesting. This concept of Yeah, being addicted to being busy. So it could be that we don’t know who’s accountable. So we give people what we do. What we need to do is actually give people responsibility to make decisions. And you know what, what, Jennifer said, was that she worries more about having no decision rather than bad decisions. So when people don’t know that they are responsible, they are unwilling to accept that responsibility or that accountability to make that decision, that puts pressure on other people then as well, we talked about this idea that our brain panics when we are not busy. And we kind of go into, we go into a mode where we get very reactive, and it becomes easy down to do the menial tasks that don’t necessarily need to be done. And to combat this, then Jennifer talked about using a post it note, and if your post it note has, say three items on it. And this is a technique that I have used in the past as well to really great success, actually. So you put three things on that you want to achieve in a given day. And then if those three things are achieved in the day, you can add three more tasks to a separate post it note, then, you know, you kind of add to it that way. But it helps your brain to focus on these are the three tasks that I really need to achieve today. And three doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you get those, if they’re big, chunky tasks and you get them done, it gives you a great sense of satisfaction that you’ve achieved them. It keeps your brain focused in that that kind of downtime that you have, between meetings, that the I would need to make sure that I need to get this done today. We also talked about this idea of adding friction to the things that you don’t want to do, so make it harder to do those things that you actually don’t want to do or that you don’t need to do and that managers need to role model the norms that they expect in an organisation. I love this question then as well posed by Jennifer, the first question to ask if you’re looking to drive productivity, if you’re looking to be more productive in your organisation, why are you trying to be more productive? And measure your productivity on those reasons? So what are the reasons that you’re trying to be more productive? And how therefore are you going to measure whether or not you are successfully being more productive in your organisation? That wraps up today’s episode, I would love for you to get involved in the conversation, you will find everything over on the happier at work website happieratwork.ie. All of the social channels are linked there as well. And I would love for you to share your thoughts, or is there anything that you’ve done differently as a result of listening to today’s episode? Is there any tips that you would add as well so I would absolutely love to hear from you. That was another episode of the Happier at Work podcast. I am so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts – head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoy the podcast, I would love if you could rate review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could help your business head on over to happieratwork.ie