As Metal Toad grows, I've found that I have less time to be involved in the day-to-day delivery of code and customer interactions.
Five Tips to Start Thinking Bigger
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day at work.
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day at work. In any modern workplace, the pace of life is fast and getting swept up in things that need to happen now is the rule rather than the exception.
So how do we avoid moving from one fire to the next? How can we level-up to think of things that are farther reaching than our day-to-day? Here are some hard-learned lessons I've drawn from my life and time in business.
1. Make Time
Create a spot in your calendar labeled DNS. This is Do Not Disturb time, which you use to reflect and figure out if you are actually working on the thing that is most important to you, your company. This is a great time to manage your to-do list (you have one of those, right?) If you find you can't get this kind of work done in the office, find a place that works for you
2. Connect with Others
I believe strongly that all of us are smarter than any of us individually, so I make it a policy to meet with people everyday. I rarely eat lunch alone, which means I get at least 5 different opinions/inputs from people a week - and it's often much more than that. Not every meeting is amazing, or even useful, but the best ideas I ever have grow out of simulating conversation with people, and not always people in my industry or peer group.
3. Take Notes
Except in the most informal setting, I am rarely more than a foot away from a notepad. I find I listen better when I take notes, and when inspiration strikes or an important to-do appears, I draw a little checkbox next to it so that I can find it later when I'm scanning my notes. This is important because moments of clarity can - and do - strike at anytime.
4. Stay Focused
The counterpoint to staying open, if you are like me, you raise your hand too often and volunteer for too much. New ideas are great, but follow through and avoiding becoming overwhelmed are critical too. Remember not only to make space, but also give yourself permission to politely decline, once you've reached capacity.
No one I have ever met likes to blog. But think of blogging like going to the gym - except instead of improving your health, you are improving and clarifying your thoughts. It can be scary to put yourself out there, but unless you write something great or extremely controversial, most blogs go by almost completely unnoticed.
Thinking bigger is important, not just for our sanity and long term sense of accomplishment, but it allows us to act more thoughtfully in our lives and can have a positive impact on our communities and loved ones.