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

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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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TEAM = (T)ogether (E)veryone (A)chieves (M)ore

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