I’m Not Working this Week

Our work strategy for 2017

We’re doing something new at Blanc Media this year. What started as a hybrid of Sean McCabe’s small scale sabbaticals and our own work cycle system, has evolved a bit after attending the Basecamp Way to Work seminar earlier this year.

The initial thought was, if you give something seven weeks to complete, it will take seven weeks. Instead, take that same project and give it six weeks, you will likely finish it in six weeks. Simple because you changed your deadline.

Things take as long as you give them.

Come to find out, Basecamp also works in seven week cycles. Six weeks for project work spread across the entire team, then a one week buffer to wrap up loose ends and plan for the next cycle.

One thing that Basecamp does that really struck a chord with us, they don’t carry projects over to the next work cycle. Everything has to be done in its given time frame. If something didn’t get done, it doesn’t automatically migrate over creating extra work for the next cycle. It’s simply cut off.

They don’t carry work debt.

Taking what we learned from Basecamp and our original plan, our 2017 work experiment has shaped up thusly.

  • Six weeks of project work
  • Use the seventh week to tie up loose ends, reflect, and prepare for the next cycle
  • Shut down the office on the eighth week and rest

We’re currently on our first week shut down. I’m at home drinking coffee on the couch writing. It’s a Tuesday and I get to be home with my family, all day.

I kind of feel like it’s cheating. It feels extravagant. No national holiday, no major life event, I’m not sick. And here I find myself at home this week. Getting to rest my mind, my body, and be with the people I love most.

But honestly it also feels really good. After wrapping up our first work cycle, we got a lot done. And as we look toward this next cycle, we have a fair amount planned.

It’s gratifying to know that when we’re working, we have a focused target we want to accomplish. Our work is intentional, well thought through, and important. Our work is not endless, frivelous, or urgent.

If we can accomplish eight weeks of work in seven, why wouldn’t we?

We work forty hours a week (sometimes less) and we are in complete control of how we spend our time.

I have felt a little bashful about telling people our new eight week cycle, with a built in week off. It feels indulgent.

“What?! You get a week off every eight weeks?”

Yep, and it’s paid. You should see the looks I get. 😳

But here’s the thing. We’re a small company. And I can tell you right now, when Shawn and I are working, we are locked in with our heads down.

Our aim is to work smarter not harder.

Merely throwing hours at a project doesn’t inherintly mean more will get done. The quality of those hours make a drastic difference.

If we maintain a culture of high quality focus, then our efficiency goes through the roof. The five week project turns out to actually only be two. Distractions get curbed before pulling us away from the important stuff.

The seemingly-important random project that comes out of nowhere in the middle of a work cycle get shut down, because if it’s really important, we’ll work on it next cycle. Otherwise we’ll forget about it.

So yes, I’m on a week vacation. In the middle of February. At home. And I can feel the mental, emotional, and physical margin being restored.

And come Monday, I’ll be ready to take the work cycle by storm.

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