This interview is an attempt to understand how new-age high-performing individuals employ tricks to manage their time.
Francesco, 21, works with FlashSticks as their Marketing Head and is a community leader at Evernote; Vlogs about the best & worst of Productivity hacks and Tech tools on Youtube (Channel here) and covers them on his blog (Link here). While working as a Freelance writer at Despreneur, he runs a bi-monthly newsletter as well.
The point is, apart from being a passionately curious Brit, Francesco works on at-least 4 different things at once. This is hard thing to do without productive habits and is the core reason why we got in touch with him on Twitter to score an interview and he was kind enough to oblige!
So, here we go, Excerpts:
The first hour!
Yash Shah: What do you do for the first hour as soon as you get to the office?
Francesco D’Alessio: Well, I can’t afford for the day to begin when I reach the office. After coming from my run early in the morning, I read for about 15–20 mins. I then start my fight with e-mails; and goes on for about 30 mins from home itself. This allows me to catch up with all the things that happened on the previous day after I left office and the fact that I have time to know and comprehend before my work starts today, allows me to plan my day fairly effectively.
For the first hour at office, I believe, it’s important that you eat the frog!
I pick up the hardest thing I am supposed to accomplish that day and give it an uninterrupted 30 mins to 1 Hr. No meetings, no co-worker consulting, no chit-chat, no notifications or emails. Just plain getting the hardest thing done for that first hour with all the freshness and energy I’ve gathered. At the end of it, this helps me get in the rhythm for the day and I already know that upcoming tasks are going to be easier than what I just got done.
The work apps..
YS: Alright! That’s a delightfully simple way to put it. Since you are into analysing productivity apps, how many of them have you tried and what are the top 3 tools you can’t live without!
FD: Sticking strictly to productivity apps, over the past 1 year, I’ve looked at about 15 to 75 tools consistently per month. With that many tools, I can say with some confidence that there’s no tool that will completely solve all your problems.
If you are looking for a tool that solves all your work-problems, you may find Santa clause first!
There’s no swiss knife in work-apps!
You have to try and figure out what will work best. For me, I use To-doist & Evernote.
- To-doist for it’s simplicity in terms of organising my tasks and getting them done &
- Evernote for the ridiculous amount of use-cases you can fit it for. There are very few things you can’t do on evernote! Whatever the context, you’ll always find a way to use Evernote that fits with the way you want to use it.
Sum of the parts or parts of the sum?
YS: Makes sense! Taking a step back from individual productivity and talking about team-work, do you believe that there is some merit in the idea of bringing all forms of communication in one place?
FD: I have to agree with Aristotle on this ;) & I know for a fact that your platform, Gridle, is trying to do just that. I think integrating multiple tools within themselves works upto an extent but,
I firmly believe that there’s a huge merit in having just one tool with native capabilities.
At FlashSticks, we use Slack + Email & I personally use To-Doist that integrates with my Slack and Google Drive that integrates with my Evernote. But if I am able to do everything in one place; that helps in two folds:
- I will be able to save time by stopping the juggle between these amazing but multiple tools &
- If this happens for the rest of my team as well, since all the context, data and colleagues will be in one place, I will be able to identify bottlenecks faster and make informed decision quicker.
Future of work!
YS: Cool! So, what does the future of Productivity look like? And could you suggest some productivity hacks? That you employ?
FD: The future of productivity inevitably relies on Artificial Intelligence.
10 years from now, I’d like to believe that my life will be run by a personal assistant and that’s going to be a bot!
You take a look at the kind of things Siri & Cortana can do on your phone. Things that Jarvis can do on Messenger and Lark for personal coaching and you’ll realise that they have a huge role to play in productivity.
Creating tasks & events with minimal web-design are going to be a thing of the past. It will be more about how smart & interactive can your bot be and how quickly can it identify patterns to optimise your work-life. I know you, at Gridle, have Alfred who is kind of trying to be that too. It will be interesting.
Since I am fairly young, I spend a lot of time learning, failing and improving. I’ve put a couple of things to practice; hope they can help.
- Making sure that my sleep cycle is consistent. Not just number of hours but the time for which I sleep too.
- I consciously track the way I spend my time, figure out things that are inefficient and make small improvements through iteration.
- Walking helps me think clearly. For you, it could be something else. Find that and do it at-least twice a day; alone. Clear thought-process behind any action means higher probability of that going through.
(Tagging Francesco D’Alessio in this post so he can engage through replies on this post)
YS: Awesome! Thank you for your time. It was nice getting your insights on how work, works. :)
FD: The pleasure was mine. It was interesting speaking with you as well.
In the end..
To sum it all up,
- Unifying communication tools has strong merit against inefficient patch-work of apps, excel sheets and tools.
- For the first hour, take up the hardest task for the day.
- AI & Bots have a huge role to play in the future of work.
- Improve your sleep cycle, think clearly, track the way you spend your time & iterate to make it more efficient.
So, that’s the end of our second interview. You can also read up on our first interview on “What distracts teams at work and how to get their focus back?” with Mr. Malhar Barai, hosted by Prasanjit Das.
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Until next time.