Maximizing Productivity: Learnings from Bullet Chess

Over the past 3 months, I’ve been playing Bullet Chess to relieve stress. I’ve found that Bullet Chess offers a handful of effective tools/philosophies for maximizing productivity.

Background

Bullet Chess is an iteration of Chess where each player gets 1 minute of playing time. When it’s a player’s turn, the clock starts counting down. As soon as the player makes a move, the clock is stopped. The count-down is resumed when it’s the player’s turn again. Players win when they checkmate their opponent or their opponent runs out of time.

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Dreaming Large Thought Exercises

Background

In Junior High, I dreamed of being in the NBA. I was probably the shortest kid in the entire school but that didn’t stop me from dreaming large.

I carried my basketball with me everywhere I went. I even practiced dribbling while in the bathroom. I showed up on the court every day and improved very quickly. I remember going from last picked always to first picked 80% of the time within 3 months.

This dream faded early on in my teenage years. The societal pressure of “choosing something practical” drowned my vision.

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Rapid Growth

For every single observation there are an infinite number of explanations.

Through rapid testing we can discover the minimum effective dose for continuous growth. We have to:

1. Select the best possible hypothesis. It’s too early to presume failure. Our intuition is driving us towards a single explanation for a reason. Our best bet is to run with it. It’s detrimental to demand 100% certainty now.

2. Test this hypothesis. A lot of the work lies in this stage. It’s a series of experiments tying back to the principle validator, the hypothesis. If we discover the hypothesis to be falsey, we have not lost. We’ve eliminated a bad apple.

3. Rinse and repeat. The chunk of the work is here. Through every previous experiment, we’ve opened new doors of perception that empower us to make even better hypotheses. How can we grow?

Stress Management on Freelance Projects

For the past 4 years, I have freelanced as a Product Manager/UX Designer. More specifically, I’ve partnered with designers and developers to ship software for Clients. I’ve also defined the experiences and interfaces for the software we’ve shipped.

Over these years, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve screamed, slammed tables and sulked in a corner of my dark room.

Now, my freelance career is far less stressful. I look back and laugh at those moments in embarrassment. I’ve acquired a core set of beliefs that have helped me significantly reduce stress and focus more on the eustress that comes with my work.
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Starting a Start-up: The Right Attitude

Today was my start-up’s official moving day. I’ve moved cubes and desks in my corporate career before – In retrospect that was a cake walk.

The last two days consisted of a lot of packing, pulling, water breaks, pushing, lifting, water breaks. Thankfully, the heavy lifting was taken care of by movers. However, all the fragile items (and there were a lot) came with Mark, co-founder, and I.

By mid-afternoon our cars were loaded and we were on the road to the new facility. We pulled in by 4:30pm and quickly unloaded everything.

I knew another late night ensued but I wasn’t bothered by it. I was physically tired but I still had a ton of mental muscle left. In my previous corporate gigs, late nights were plenty and always defeating. Yes, I got free dinners and cab rides home but those were meaningless. I wasn’t empowered enough to tolerate the late nights. Continue reading “Starting a Start-up: The Right Attitude”

Timeboxing Will Increase Your Productivity

Timeboxing is when you allocate a fixed time period to a planned activity. In my experience, this is the most cost-effective way to increase productivity. After all, it’s FREE.

I discovered timeboxing years back as a Digital Strategist putting together pitch presentations on very tight timelines. I needed time management solutions to make the most use of my time. Continue reading “Timeboxing Will Increase Your Productivity”

You can NEVER plan enough; Become adaptable

Planning is important. You need to determine the tools and resources you’ll need. You need to identify all of the project’s dependancies. You need to recognize the roadblocks that lay ahead. You need to create a schedule with executable tasks. You need to do all of this.. roughly.

A perfect plan does not exist. Dare I iterate over the famous adage by Voltaire and say, a perfect plan is the enemy of the good plan. In other words, you need to move and take your first step forward. Better now when you’re healthy and able. The fact is, once you embark on the execution part of your journey, you WILL be faced with unexpected events. This is part of the process. On this shaky terrain of unforeseen circumstances you will strengthen two critical skills: Patience and perseverance. Continue reading “You can NEVER plan enough; Become adaptable”

Ship with Data Discovery as the Goal

It’s easy to get caught up in the margins. The burger icon vs the ‘MENU’ icon. The “Buy now” vs “Go ahead and try us out!” CTA copy.

Though, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s fear that we’re caught up in. Fear that all the hard work we input will amount to nothing. No one will listen, care, talk, purchase.

How do people do it? How do they put out their products? Continue reading “Ship with Data Discovery as the Goal”