Heroes & Housekeeping: How Teams Can Balance Deep and Shallow Work - Deepstash

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Heroes & Housekeeping: How Teams Can Balance Deep and Shallow Work

https://doist.com/blog/heroes-housekeeping-days/

doist.com

Heroes & Housekeeping: How Teams Can Balance Deep and Shallow Work
Doist's developers took task batching and time blocking to a team level, with "hero" and "housekeeping" days, to balance long-term work and short-term demands.

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Balancing shallow and deep work

Balancing shallow and deep work
  • What should be done when your team's "shallow work" is just as important as their "deep work"?
  • How do you empower your team to find a balance between small improvements and general maintenance tasks on the one end, and building new and exciting developments on the other?

On a personal level, the answer is batching your shallow tasks together and blocking a time to do them all at once. On a team level, a balance can be maintained between long-term projects and short-term demands with two new complementary tools.

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The Hero Role

  • Each month one person on each product team becomes the "Hero." Their primary responsibilities are to communicate with their support team and take care of smaller improvements.
  • The Hero should be able to focus entirely on their support duties. They're not assigned to any other product development work during that month.
  • Being attentive to the support team and users means the Hero is unlikely to block off 4 hours or more of deep work, but it will enable everyone else on the team to do so.
  • Being so close to user's requests and feedback gives the Hero a unique perspective into their problems and struggles.

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Housekeeping Days

Each member of the team (except the Hero) spends one day per week on Housekeeping. It gives them time to focus on small but important tasks.

Housekeeping is a personal day. If the Hero hasn't explicitly asked for help on an issue, people can choose which tasks they want to work on. Sometimes this time is used to learn something new related to current or upcoming work.

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Ensuring balance

Although the Hero role and Housekeeping days may seem insignificant, they make teamwork more effective and less stressful.

All team members can start each month, week, and day knowing what work they want to focus on and the freedom to focus on it with minimal interruptions.

By separating short-term reactive work with longer-term work, Heroes and Housekeeping days ensure a balance.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Deep Work

The activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. 

When you’re really locked into doing something hard with your mind… with zero distractions. 

Interruptions

The typical American worker is interrupted every 210 seconds

But half of those interruptions are self-interruptions. We check our phones every 12 minutes or 70 times per day

The urgency bias

The urgency bias

We usually give priority to unimportant tasks when there is a sense of urgency around them.

We’re actually psychologically wired to put aside important tasks in favor of ta...

Why it’s hard to ignore urgent tasks

A few explanations as to why it’s so hard to reject urgent tasks:

  • The completion bias. Our brains crave the reward we get from checking off small to-dos from our list.
  • Tunnel vision: When we get overwhelmed by the things we have to do, we choose to act on those most available to us; these are usually emails, calls, meetings, and other low-friction tasks.

Urgency puts us into reactive mode

The problem is that we’re continually bombarded with urgent work: emails, meetings, calls, and instead of being in control of our time and attention, we respond and act on someone else’s priorities.

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Assembling the Team

... that's capable of executing in a remote setup:

  • Hire doers: they will get stuff done even if they are working from a secluded island.
  • Hire people you can trust....

Software/Tools

In a remote team, you'll need the right tools to make sure everyone stays on the same page and can continue to execute without a physical person standing next to them.

You likely will need a tool in certain categories like group chat and video conferencing to make remote successful.

Processes

Good processes let you get work done in the absence of all else. They provide structure and direction for getting things done.

A few examples from Zapier:

  • Weekly Hangouts;
  • Weekly One-on-Ones;
  • Bring the team together 2 times/year somewhere cool;
  • Automate anything that can be automated.