Amazing how old productivity strategies–ones that were perfectly good–suddenly become a burden

I was amazed recently to learn that in a lot of small startups, people don’t have formal job titles. They have individual skills, of course, but since the company is so small and so much needs to be done, you end up doing so many different things that it would be foolish to divide up everything and say you’re a product manager and you’re the HR guy and you’re the sales and marketing person.

But in a large company, that same flexibility would be madness. Once you’ve got fifty or a hundred people, you can’t just shout across a room anymore, and any efficiency gains from the flexibility would be lost in all the running around and trying to figure out who you need to talk to about what.

Similarly, in life there are strategies one adopts at certain stages that then become handicaps. It’s not that the old strategies were bad. It’s that they were optimized for solving a different problem.

Right now I’m finding that my old strategy for dealing with my email (read everything, pin anything that needs addressing, and then get to it once a week whenever I have time) has proven woefully inadequate: I get so many emails now that when I actually get around to replying to them, there’s just too much for me to do in a single sitting.

It is a problem. Guess I’ll just do the mature thing and start replying to them the moment I read them. I once read that David Allen book Getting Things Done, and the only piece of advice I retained was that if something would take less than two minutes to do, then you should do it now.

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