It’s common knowledge that multitasking isn’t effective. The brain takes extra time shifting between tasks, which can take longer than it would have if you did each task by itself. What if you looked at your workweek in the same light? Rahul Vohra, founder and CEO of the email platform Superhuman, found that mixing tasks in a day can lead to an ineffective way to run your week.
“Anyone who has been in a managerial role will run into this problem,” he says. “Their one-on-one [meetings] will be randomly dispersed throughout the week, team meetings happen whenever everybody happens to be free, and there is little time to focus and do deep work. This is the complete opposite of running a company with intentionality.”
Instead, Vohra suggests implementing a staggered calendar, a method that everyone at Superhuman follows:
How it works
Mondays are reserved for one-on-one meetings, and team meets are held on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays. Simple, but effective.
“If you run a team, do your team meeting on Wednesdays and stack all your one-on-ones on Tuesday,” says Vohra. “If your reports run teams, ask them to do their team meetings on Tuesdays and stack all their one-on-ones on Mondays. And if their reports run teams, then stagger this whole thing by another day.”
Taking a staggered approach to calendars has a number of benefits. First, information and knowledge can move through the company quickly and efficiently.
“A small company can react and fix things, but as companies scale, information moves slowly,” says Vohra. “If there is a problem on the front line, it can get discussed in a one-on-one on Monday. If necessary, it can be resolved by leadership on Wednesday. It takes at most two days for information to travel like this.”
Another benefit is that problems are often solved along the way, saving a leader’s time. “For example, in your Wednesday team meeting you might hear, ‘This problem came up on Monday, we discussed it as a team on Tuesday, and here’s the solution we’d like to go with,'” says Vohra. “By the time things reach me, they usually arrive with a solution.”
When you stagger meetings, you leave days open for deep work. Leaders will have Monday, much of Wednesday, and all of Thursday and Friday free to do the tasks that only they can do and which requires their full concentration. While the calendar is designed for C-level leaders, Vohra says the entire company will benefit with days freed up to do deep work.
If a fire comes up on an off-day, determine if it truly is a fire or if it can be delegated. “I estimate that [a staggered calendar] adds 10 hours of productive time back to my week,” says Vohra. “It gives me days back, but it also takes care of those five to 10 minutes of downtime that are between meetings when they’re spread throughout the week. Those minutes eat into the day. You don’t have any of that downtime when you keep to this schedule.”