Sparse thoughts on work

A random issue on self organization and working with people

Hey everyone,

I hope you don’t mind sporadic issues. Sometimes things come to mind and I want to share. If you’re new here, would love if you stuck around awhile and subscribed.


In school they don’t spend much time preparing you for the critical components of career or creative pursuit. Like how to self-organize, how to talk to people, or how to run an effective meeting. And for that reason, most people — and organizations — will spin their wheels endlessly and churn out problematic deliverables.

I wanted to share a few spare thoughts on the fundamentals of getting things done:

  1. You can try all sorts of hack and read all sorts of productivity books but it’s often all to avoid an uncomfortable truth. There is no magic secret to productivity. Have some sort of area to consistently brain-dump tasks, set up a basic system to manage your information/knowledge, and maintain some sort of to-do list.

    I just saved you $20 on an airport business book. You’re welcome.

  2. You can’t — and absolutely should not — do it all. I work as a product manager, freelance, write, and now I’m building a company. Unfortunately, I had to make the difficult choice to let go of my writing community, Writer’s Bloc. We weren’t able to devote enough time in order for it to live up to our standards. And I’m doing no one any favors by forgoing my happiness and health.

  3. One of the most common faults you can make in your work is tolerating a lack of clarity. When someone says something you don’t understand: ask why. When something isn’t running efficiently: ask why. From employee to founder: If your project, target market, or responsibilities aren’t clear…you’re screwing yourself.

    It’s also worth mentioning: In your career, you get bonus points if you can just fix the problem yourself and report on the solution. Be solution oriented.

  4. LinkedIn influencers love to talk about how bad meetings suck. That’s only because people run meetings that suck. If you ever find yourself running a meeting, improve your quality of life with a few easy actions:

    a) Prepare an agenda in advance
    b) Ensure everyone in the meeting serves a purpose
    c) Introduce the meeting with the target objective
    d) Reign people in when they invariably go off the rails
    e) End the meeting by clarifying the outcome
    f) Make assigned action items abundantly clear

  5. On a similar note as the above, spend an abundant amount of free time thinking about how you can communicate more effectively. Ask your boss or friends what your deficiencies are. A few quick thoughts on communicating effectively:

    a) The burden of responsibility falls on the communicator to make sure everyone understands. If others aren’t understanding or things aren’t going how you want, it’s likely because you weren’t clear or set unclear expectations. And if you don’t understand something, you should not be communicating about it.
    b) Show decency to people for the love of god. I’m appalled by how much conflict could be avoided if more people were more courteous, forthright, and thoughtful.
    c) Default to over communication. When things go awry, it’s generally because communication crumbled. People avoid meeting because it wastes precious time. You know what else wastes precious time? Fixing broken shit.

I hope you found this useful.

Wishing you and yours the best,

Cullin