Overhead

Yesterday, I didn’t leave my house.

I was supposed to be in San Francisco for a board meeting but I was forced to cancel the trip suddenly. It left me with a rare day with only that one meeting (which I had to attend remotely) on my calendar. Otherwise, my calendar was wide open. I can’t remember that last time my calendar looked that way. I ended up doing that meeting online, and putting it on my big screen TV in my basement. It was really as good as being there. I caught every nuance because of the big display. It felt great. Obviously I missed the personal interaction with the management team, but that was really the only drawback.

I then realized that the entire rest of the day would have been spent traveling.  I would have missed bedtime stories with my son, but because I didn’t have the overhead I got to do that too. Sure, I probably would have gotten a ton of email done on the plane. Maybe a call on the way to the airport. But really, the travel was pure overhead. Leaving my house would have been overhead too. I didn’t go out to lunch either, I just ate a quick sandwich at home.

Because of the lack of overhead, it was easily the most productive day I can remember. It was pure maker time, except for that one meeting. I crushed my task lists and caught up on several very important projects. I did a couple of urgent calls (this happens daily – something is always urgent when you have a large portfolio of companies). I went to bed feeling energized and great about what I had accomplished.

My only regret was that I bothered to shower or put regular clothes on. That cost me a couple of minutes. But my wife was OK it, especially the shower. And I’m pretty sure the other board members appreciated not having to witness my pajamas.

I highly recommend you have one day in your life with zero overhead. Doing this will help you think about which of the overhead items you want to add back in and which you want to try to reduce or eliminate. You may be amazed by what you find. I sure was, and it’s leading to a few changes.

 

file under: Blog, Personal, Startups
  • Eugene Wan

    A change in workflow and pace always gives good perspective. Solid post, David. I’m not inundated with meetings and responsibilities as you are but I try to do one day a week void of calls or emails.

    • David Cohen

      wish you wouldda told me 3 years ago. 🙂

  • Alex Iskold

    I hate communing and LOVE working from home. Commute drains me (1h each way) in NYC, strips off time to exercise, and somehow feels like a lot more than just 2h of the day are gone. More like 4.

    Doing f2f, old school time with people is super important of course, particularly if you don’t know someone at all, meeting in person is important.

    Beyond that I think working from home is just so much better for all the reasons you described – you actually get things done. This is a much bigger point — office environments are highly conducive to interrupts. Random people pop in, you meet someone by the coffee machine, etc.

    Time evaporates like on Dali’s paintings. Before you know it the day is gone. Unless you are super super disciplined its harder to get things done in the office. At GetGlue we had 2 days work from home policy, and it was actually pretty good balance 3-2.

    In general, I am a HUGE fan of wfh because it affords flexibility to modern worker and also affords family and personal time. I think people actually get a lot more done when they wfh.

    • David Cohen

      i think both are important for most of us “information workers”. some time in total peace with no schedule to GSD and sometimes in the office to deal with the issues of the day and get face time. seems optimal. i’m changing my calendar to include one day a week of full maker time at home.

  • haha…we must have telepathy.
    today, i had 4 meetings downtown this afternoon, but coming down with a cold, I decided to stay home instead.
    I ended-up doing them over phone/skype from home and it was a productive day indeed.

    • David Cohen

      yep, now try a day with no email, only your task list. even more awesome.

  • I’ve discovered the same thing. Now that I’m “homeless” as we build the Detroit Techstars office, I’ve reduced my overhead significantly. Commuting, tons of f2f meetings. I’ve switched to 15-min virtual meetings for a majority of folks that want to chat and devote real f2f to relationships that are cornerstones in my work and life. This has given me a ton more time with the family and I’m equally, if not more, productive now too.

    Glad you got to experience this today and had more time with the family!

    • David Cohen

      love it. wise beyond your years!

  • scott

    less is more open the windows and let the fresh air in

  • This inspired me to take a zero overhead day and it was magical. Will be having at least one per week now. Thanks!

    • David Cohen

      magical is a good word.