Method to the madness
Asides Paystack, I work on three other things.
These are side projects and we don’t have employees yet, but we try to treat and run them as proper companies nonetheless.
The guiding principle of my “productivity practice” is to establish a working rhythm for every project.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that good things take time to make, so the most important thing is intentional planning and consistent progress.
I juggle multiple things by:
- Collaborating with people who can self-direct
- Setting up communication structures to create a working rhythm
I work on Paystack during regular office hours and other projects at night, weekends or during breaks.
Because Paystack can be so mind consuming, I have to be extremely structured: team alignment on Monday, check-ins on Tuesdays, focused work on Wednesdays, company alignment on Thursdays and planning on Fridays.
I’m usually a little out of kilter, but for the most part I keep to this structure.
This way, the unsurprising surprises that come up each week don’t throw me off, I always have time for side projects, I get enough rest and I manage to throw some life into the mix as well.
Work at Paystack is planned quarterly, and I recently started planning my side projects the same way too.
After I figure out how much work I have to do at Paystack, I decide how much I can possibly achieve on my side projects, considering the help I have.
Every Sunday, I plan for the week. I think through what I need to do across all the projects and throw them into my todo app, Things.
During the week, I check the list occasionally to see how well I’m doing.
I try not to work on anything alone. Apart from having someone to actually carry the work, collaborators help me stay accountable.
My rate of work on anything depends on the quality of help I have. The best thing for any project is to have a strong collaborator who feels just as responsible for it. The more experience they have, the better the ideas, process and execution.
But of course this is not always the case.
On some projects, I work with people I have to carry. This takes more time, and the outcome is usually not as great, but I learn a lot designing systems to keep them accountable and articulating my feedback on their work.
The heartbeat of my working rhythm is communication. Every project has some form of asynchronous communication structure.
Simply put, I try to find creative ways to nudge people to share and discuss consistently, and this is maybe the hardest part. For reasons ranging from bad behaviour to shyness, people find it really difficult to share.
I generally prefer written communication because time syncing is just insanely difficult and I can articulate better with text. I use WhatsApp and Notion for NOMAD and Basecamp for Wuruwuru and Helloworld.
I prefer Basecamp because it has in-built communication structures e.g. automated check-ins, messages etc, but Notion works well too.
I avoid calls like the plague, but I find them very useful for alignment, updates and bonding. Most of my calls happen on a weekly/monthly schedule.
I rarely ever meet in-person, but it’s useful for bonding too. Relationship building is important to the success of any team, and calls and IRLs do this more efficiently than text.
Sometimes, I find really special people who prefer to write too (e.g. Bolu for The J Guide). With people like this, I can build a relationship and work quickly without seeing them at all.
Apart from structuring my days and weeks, I also structure my workspace. I use different browsers (Safari for Paystack and Chrome for side projects) so that I don’t stumble on one type of work while doing the other. This is important because I get distracted very easily.
Another semi-crazy thing I do is move around the house or change my working position when I switch between projects. I do this even within projects e.g. I wrote my last essay about Hanky Panky at the table, but moved to the bed to finish this one.
That’s it I think. If I remember anything else, I’ll update this.
(cc Temi Giwa)