Getting Things Done

Not the book, but in reality.

I’m fortunate to have a friend as an executive coach; he knows me well and kicks my ass when I need it. Today we had a call and it helped just at the point where I need to shift gears.

I find working alone less productive than when I have someone in the room to help hold me accountable. We agree on what we’re working on, and work on our parts together. That really moves things forward faster, and provides a sounding board–useful if you don’t abuse it (and I have in the past). At the moment my team and I generally work alone, but soon that will change a bit.

Here’s what I (pot) advise startups (kettle) to do:

  • Make a list of things you need to get done, categorize and prioritize (1,2,3 is enough, and if it’s a 3 don’t work on it).
  • Set realistic dates for each item in the list.
  • If you change a date, write down the reason for the change.
  • If you see you’re changing things repeatedly for the same reason, ask yourself why and make adjustments.
  • Keep it simple–it’s just a list.
  • Agree to your minimum set of features and deliver it. That’s a tough one.

If you don’t set dates, you can’t look back very easily and understand your intentions at the time, and can’t measure your progress specifically. It feels great to cross things off the list.

Recently I haven’t been doing that as much, and am about to start again, because, well, Jerry held me to account.

What’s the plan? What are the dates? What’s the budget for that plan? How are you building the business? Charlie, you’re talking about the product all the time. How are you building the business? What are you doing next week? Write it down and send it to me.

I’m deep into the vision at the moment. There’s so much potential, but that potential will still be there after launching the minimum product and serving people. And those people? They’ll like it. Sort of. And ask for changes, and add to the vision, and push us for faster better sleeker. The potential will change, the vision will morph.

But as long as we’re serving people, cutting down their daily digital noise, and freeing them to do other things than wade through the haystack to find the needles, that will be more satisfying than seeing the exact product vision out in the wild.

Note to self: finding the needle is a lot easier without the haystack. (Tip of the hat to Blekko).


  1. Anonymous says:

    thanks–time to wrap up. I can feel the walls closing in…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like your recommendation to write down WHY the date was changed. Keep pushing!!

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