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Calm is key: A guide to a happier, more productive workplace

1b4a6c2e7bafdb5c945865dac35a9eb3?s=47 Dan Kim
August 26, 2019

Calm is key: A guide to a happier, more productive workplace


Many of today's work environments are crazy — they run at a frenetic pace, full of interruptions and distractions. They leave us drained, overworked, and frustrated. And yet we do our best work in the opposite environment — when we're focused, clear headed, and have time to think. So let's try to shift the balance by talking about a better, calmer way.

We'll talk about a variety of ways we can all encourage greater calm at work. How do we maintain focus and prevent interruptions? What are some strategies to manage our time and responsibilities? What can we do both at work and home to keep me sharp mentally? And how do maintain real balance and boundaries between work and home?

By the end of the talk, I hope you'll have some new ideas and inspiration to work toward a calmer, more productive work environment for you and your team.


Dan Kim

August 26, 2019


  1. Calm is key A guide to a happier, more productive

    workplace @dankim
  2. Working in a calm environment

  3. A little background

  4. ⏰ We have no time to do our actual work

    at work
  5. Constant, unrelenting interruptions and distractions

  6. No such thing as a work DAY

  7. We're working too much

  8. Overwork is glamorized

  9. “Could you work 130 hours in a week?” The answer

    is yes, if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom. The nap rooms at Google were there because it was safer to stay in the office than walk to your car at 3 a.m. For my first five years, I did at least one all-nighter a week, except when I was on vacation—and the vacations were few and far between. — Marissa Mayer
  10. My husband runs a co-working office in San Francisco. He

    runs his company out of there and other startups cycle through. And if you go in on a Saturday afternoon, I can tell you which startups will succeed, without even knowing what they do. Being there on the weekend is a huge indicator of success, mostly because these companies just don’t happen. They happen because of really hard work. — Marissa Mayer
  11. The results are pretty clear

  12. It's a vicious cycle

  13. Change is possible!

  14. Why is it so important?

  15. Work is a big part of our lives

  16. - Work is NOT our lives

  17. . How do we fix this?

  18. / Be able to actually do work at work

  19. - Prevent overworking

  20. 1 Practical tactics and strategies

  21. Who am I talking to?

  22. Let's do this!

  23. / Be able to actually do work at work

  24. Avoid small interruptions!

  25. Most interruptions are because of synchronous communication

  26. 6 I need something right now

  27. Their flow (and work) is a goner

  28. ⏳ The reality: It can wait

  29. // FIXME

  30. 6 There should be no such thing as ASAP

  31. Work like you're all remote

  32. Committing to asynchronous communications

  33. No more shoulder tapping

  34. ✍ Write everything down

  35. ✍ It's self-documenting

  36. It enables the more thoughtful, quiet voices

  37. ❤ Write heartbeats and kickoffs

  38. > Avoid major interruptions!

  39. > Avoid meetings!

  40. Guaranteed to have too many people involved


  42. ☝ There's no such thing as a one hour meeting

  43. A 10 person meeting is a 10 hour meeting

  44. Information imbalance

  45. They spawn more of themselves

  46. They're scheduled interruptions

  47. // FIXME

  48. Crazy idea: try not having one

  49. Do we really NEED this meeting?

  50. J Apply the three* person rule * The number that

    works best for your company
  51. K Plan your escape


  53. L Try a new way


  55. Avoid chat!

  56. ‼ Chat is treated like required reading

  57. Let's all stand around the water cooler all day for

    eight hours
  58. // FIXME

  59. Remove any expectation that chat is required reading

  60. ⚙ Use a slower gear

  61. - Preventing overwork

  62. None
  63. None

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  67. upbraiding.html


  69. None
  70. It's critically important to take time away from work

  71. Your brain needs it


  73. W Balance makes you better at your job


  75. ❤ Empathy is built away from work

  76. // FIXME

  77. XY ✊ Recognize that 40 hours a week is PLENTY

  78. Half your waking hours are at work

  79. Hours != productivity


  81. You're actually worse after 40

  82. Confine work to work hours

  83. ⚾ Establish ground rules

  84. Establish a channel for true emergencies

  85. Coach the rule breakers

  86. Take actual vacations

  87. Forget the bullshit myth that you must always be learning

  88. Shape up your projects


  90. ➕☝ Work in six* week cycles * The number that

    works best for your company
  91. Learn to manage the tension between time, quality, and scope

  92. Good is relative

  93. Trust and autonomy

  94. No backlogs

  95. Some things to keep in mind

  96. Is any of this even possible?

  97. Also, shit happens

  98. None
  99. We're glad you love this job because we all do

    too, but at the end of the day it's a job. Do your best work, collaborate with your team, write, read, learn, and then turn off your computer and play with your dog. We'll all be better for it. — The Basecamp Handbook
  100. Thank you! @dankim