#139: Slack Overload, Big Rocks, And Making Time For What Matters

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This is a podcast episode titled, #139: Slack Overload, Big Rocks, And Making Time For What Matters. The summary for this episode is: Alright. If you’re into personal productivity (and getting more stuff done at work) then this episode is for you. DC and DG talk about Slack and a recent shift in how we’re communicating internally at Drift, plus lessons from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and a new book “Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.” Before you go leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and share the pod with your friends! Be sure to check out more insights on the Drift blog at drift.com/blog and find us on Twitter @davegerhardt @dcancel and @seekingwisdomio.

Speaker 1: And we're back.

Speaker 2: I'm not touching anything.

Speaker 1: Don't touch anything.

Speaker 2: I'm not touching anything.

Speaker 1: Don't fidget.

Speaker 2: I'm not fidgeting. I got some feedback that I'm a fidgeter-

Speaker 1: That's true.

Speaker 2: Which I said is fine. I replaced that- I don't say the word'umm' anymore.

Speaker 1: You do say'umm'.

Speaker 2: That's not true. All right.

Speaker 1: No, you don't say'umm.'

Speaker 2: Yeah, you're right. Thank you. I don't say'umm.'. Umm... damn it.

Speaker 1: Yeah. You said it.

Speaker 2: See, I love when I just walk into a Seeking Wisdom episode, I don't have to do any of the prep work, because I just have your email.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: So you sent this email.

Speaker 1: Just to be clear, DG does all the work, Seeking Wisdom-

Speaker 2: Yeah, just to be clear.

Speaker 1: Crystal clear. I did no preparation.

Speaker 2: which is great. No, because you send me all the ideas. I just have to wrangle them and then make them happen. All of my ideas come from you.

Speaker 1: And what are these? What's this idea you have here?

Speaker 2: This is pen and paper. So, actually, you sent out this email Sunday night, which I'll ask you about in a second, because you do this weekly Sunday night email now, TSNS. Here's the subject line; Changing the way we communicate. David canceled to team. Being busy, bold letters. Being busy. If you're watching on YouTube-

Speaker 1: Don't share that.

Speaker 2: Sorry. I can't share the whole thing. You're right. You're right.

Speaker 1: Save that for the insiders.

Speaker 2: Oh, you said being busy. Wow. That's a playbook and a half right there. You'll know more about that later. You said being busy, bold letters, being busy should never be confused with being effective. It finally hit me, Slack overload. Amazing.

Speaker 1: I was in the kitchen today.

Speaker 2: And I want to do this because the reason I wanted this episode is because when you said that, collectively people at Drift, people outside of Drift, people in America, people in other countries, people who don't even have access to internet said yes, Somebody finally said what we've all been thinking.

Speaker 1: Yeah, we broke them. I was in the kitchen today and a couple of people talk to me separately. One of them was my boy Ham over there.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: He said-

Speaker 2: People call him Ham?

Speaker 1: I don't know, I call him Ham. Is that not okay?

Speaker 2: Are you talking about Hambisa?

Speaker 1: Yeah, Hambisa.

Speaker 2: I think his nickname is Bisa.

Speaker 1: Is it Bisa?

Speaker 2: You gave him a new nickname.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I never heard Hambisa before.

Speaker 2: Ham, I like Ham. No, I like that.

Speaker 1: He's going ham all the time.

Speaker 2: All right. Okay. So you're talking to Ham.

Speaker 1: I'm talking to Ham.

Speaker 2: Talking to Ham.

Speaker 1: Hambisa to the rest of you. He just looked at me. He's a quiet guy. For a sales guy, he's a quiet, thoughtful guy. No stereotype on salespeople.

Speaker 2: Sure.

Speaker 1: He just turned to me slowly and he said, thank you.

Speaker 2: Wow.

Speaker 1: But I didn't know what he was talking about. He was just like, thanks. And I was like, what? He's like, that email Sunday. Yes.

Speaker 2: It's amazing because I think you gave people permission to get back to what we're all here to do, which is deep work, which is real work.

Speaker 1: The context that people don't have though, is that I'm the known, then I said that in the next paragraph there, infamous for being able to be on a thousand channels at once inside the building, outside the building, all these things. The most popular question I get is like, how do you keep up with all of these different messages?

Speaker 2: That's why I think that's why it was powerful. Because coming from you, you've always been able to keep up. And you said, I'm overloaded with the number of channels we communicate with at work. It might be a shock to some of you because I'm infamous for being able to keep up across a large number of channels and people. We have a certain number of people at Drift now, a certain number of Slack channels, certain number of different teammates. It's finally hit some tipping point, but I'm changing the way I communicate. Love that. crosstalk So tell me, so I think Slack overload, there's just information overload, constant real- time communication. I actually recently read it was called the latest book from your friends at base camp.

Speaker 1: I don't read their books.

Speaker 2: About changing the way you work. I disagreed with about 99. 9% of it. I don't understand how they have a company with those rules, but apparently it works for them.

Speaker 1: Only them.

Speaker 2: But the one piece I did agree with-

Speaker 1: And screw manufacturers and other examples that they use.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it doesn't work, it doesn't make sense, but there's one point I did agree with. And this is what got me thinking about this, which is the real time versus non real time communication and the right and wrong way to use them. And personally, I felt like I haven't been doing a great job with the marketing team as one example, where all I do is just feedback and Slack respond to this. Hey, can you read this? Can you check this out? Can I get feedback on this? And that either has to happen in real time. When, if you really want thoughtful feedback, I want to have time to watch your thing or read your thing and reflect and have time to do it. And I think that's where this started to breakdown.

Speaker 1: Yeah. That was my realization, which is like, and I talk about it there and Ham, my boy Ham again was saying like, I'm going to start using that word. What was that word that you wrote in there? Asynchronous. And I've forgotten not everyone thinks like that.

Speaker 2: No, that's why I use the words real time and non real time because I'm not sure if asynchronous means real time or not real time. Which one is it?

Speaker 1: Yeah, asynchronous is not real time.

Speaker 2: Okay.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Async.

Speaker 2: We need more async communication.

Speaker 1: Yeah. So that's the way I kind of coined it in there, right? DG is the word man so he says it better, but I said Slack is a synchronous channel. Synchronous means real- time, right? It means not only real time, but real time multiple people doing or multiple actors doing something in real time. And there was a point where this team was small enough here at Drift where you could keep up. And this probably goes back to Dunbar's number, right, of the 150 connections that you can have, 150 relationships that you can have because if you multiply that out, it's like 10, 000 relationships. Probably us crossing the Dunbar number at some point, and us using Slack for everything, right? Things that we need real time conversation on, stuff that just an FYI, stuff that we need an opinion on Sunday, maybe later, right? Just using this fire hose as everything. And I think a lot of people where, I had heard from new people starting that it was overwhelming number of channels. And I was like, ah, you'll get used to it.

Speaker 2: You'll figure it out.

Speaker 1: Yeah, you'll figure it out. Until I hit this breaking point last week and said I got to start changing the way that I communicate. I need more asynchronous channels. And I was using some asynchronous channels, mostly with a small set of people on the management team where I was doing asynchronous videos and asynchronous audio. And those were the things that I was sending to reflect on. And I thought, no, we need to use asynchronous more or non real- time channels more to communicate at Drift. And you know, outside of Drift in order to have more time to make and reflect.

Speaker 2: I think the other challenge is it became a lot of what broke with email, right? And calendar, which is your inbox and Slack all of a sudden become everybody else's to do list.

Speaker 1: Totally.

Speaker 2: Hey, can you find this thing? People would ping me, hey, a couple of weeks ago you shared a link to blank in this channel, where is that? And I just said, I don't know, go find it. Because the ask is then me to then go find it. And so it's the same thing. I think it just kind of makes bad behavior. And the other thing about email, there's just a certain thing about if I'm going to write you an email, I'm emailing the CEO right now, I got to actually have some thoughts and clean this up. And a lot of it goes back to some of the stuff that we'd like out of Amazon, which is like, it's not to this level, but you have to write a six page thing if you're going to present something, right? I like the concept of- and I have done this with you for a while, which is I know that you're a thinker and I can't drop some big thing in Slack to you and say, what do you think about this? That is the wrong way. You need time to reflect. So I have always kind of picked and choose what I give you in Slack verse DC, I got some thoughts on the team, I want to change this, I want that. That's going to go to email because I want you to be sitting down reading that and have to reflect on it versus just standing and then waiting for an elevator looking at it in Slack.

Speaker 1: Yeah, one of the things I saw somewhere, I think it was on the Twitter- verse, was that someone said, they were mocking and saying Slack is great and so productive, I've replaced one email inbox with 44 or 45 inboxes because each channel is now an inbox. And it's funny, it's a little mock. But I do love Slack, I do love the real- time nature of conversations. Obviously Drift is in this world of conversations. But what I appreciate that we need to do is we need to have both real time and non real time to use your terms, ways of communicating. And it's important that we build that in the product that we're doing and us find ways to make our internal communication work with Slack and email and other forms.

Speaker 2: It's not about Slack, it's not about the channel, I think it's about understanding the ways you have to communicate as a company have to evolve as the company changes, right? I'm sure there was a time when there was three people at Drift and you probably didn't even need to use Slack. What are you going to Slack ileus for it? You're sitting right next to them. I think it's just the evolution. I don't want this to be a rant about why Slack is better, I think it's more about the evolution of growth as a company. We talk a lot about mindset on this podcast, I think it's changing the mindset to be like, oh well, let's shift and let's make this a better thing. And let's change how we think about it as opposed to nobody's out there looking for a Slack replacement, right? We're just changing how we use it and how we think about it.

Speaker 1: Totally. And you know, for us, we've always said what we're trying to do is basically give everyone the power of now at Drift of our customers. But the power of now is not to be confused as everything needs to be done now. The power of now is giving you the opportunity to be reflective and be able to focus on the thing that you want to focus on now, right? So now it can be misconstrued to make you think that it's about make it happen right now. It's not always about making it happen right now, it's about giving you the choice to decide what you want to do right now. Whether it's this, whether it's something else, whether it's go for a run or go for a walk, that's the power of now.

Speaker 2: Is different also. Slack is an internal communication tool. What we're powering is you to have an amazing customer experience, right? And customers want answers now. It doesn't mean that you need to solve it now, they want something now, that's the difference.

Speaker 1: For me, what I wrote was I'm moving to using three channels more. One of them is email. Can you believe that? I've been email bankrupt for years.

Speaker 2: I've been email bankrupt for years but i finally gotten to inbox zero and have maintained that for about two months now. I use email when communicating important announcements, stuff that requires the recipient to digest and other content that doesn't need a real- time conversation might get lost in the sea of slides.

Speaker 1: Yep. So I'm going back to email on those important things, that need time. And then two, I'm starting to use more of what I was using with a smaller group, asynchronous video and asynchronous audio and the case is those are just faster sometimes to consume and faster to produce. And so I'll create those when writing an email would be too long or too hard to communicate.

Speaker 2: Third, I'm dealing with important issues face to face or over the phone when I can, instead of an endless back and forth, trying to get my point across, I'm going to have a real conversation. Which is actually fundamentally why Drift exists in the first place, because we believe that you can't sell anything unless you have a conversation with somebody, it's the same thing for running a business on the side.

Speaker 1: Exactly. So I'm going more to person to person communication, not to be confused with the meeting. And one of the things I was talking to Carrie about whose on our team. She brought up last week, it was one of the days before Thanksgiving and then there were less people here. And so things that came up that day, they just had a conversation immediately as it came up and they just dealt with it and move forward. And she was like, this is like the old days, right? She didn't say old days, this is like Drift, this is Drift. And she was saying, what we shouldn't do, which is too easy to do is just say like, well, let's schedule a meeting for that, let's meet next Tuesday about that. And it's like, no, let's just have the conversation now, right? The cognitive load of put it on the schedule and meet next Tuesday. What were we talking about right now when it's a five minute decision that we can have right now.

Speaker 2: I think it forces you to make it a five minute decision.

Speaker 1: Yes. I like that.

Speaker 2: Not going to have a meeting about this. Let's talk about the social media calendar now. We don't need to have a 30 minute meeting about it.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Put it on the to-do list and put it on the calendar and then check it off and it's crazy, right? And so one of the things that made me reflect on this as I'm reading a book, free promo for these guys, Make Time, the book because I've been a subscriber to the Time Dork newsletter for a while. And two of those guys worked at Google in the past and wrote a book called Sprint, which is about design sprints. And we had worked with them at our last company, which was a Google ventures backed company. So we had them come in to do the design sprint. So I've been following them ever since, kept up with this Time Dork, they had this Make Time thing. And one of the things that they led me to do was I showed this to DG-

Speaker 2: This is why we're on the video.

Speaker 1: Yeah. If you're not on video, you're missing out on this. This is the home screen, my phone home screen. And so if you were on video, you'd see it's a black screen on my iPhone and it's got two icons.

Speaker 2: And a big picture of DG as a wallpaper.

Speaker 1: No it doesn't. It has messages and phone, nothing else on this screen. And I deleted Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. Didn't have Facebook on here, but I would have deleted that too.

Speaker 2: Wow. DG's like, what? No way.

Speaker 1: Yeah, so no more of what they call infinite pools, infinite time- wasters. And I've noticed a difference since I did that a few days ago where I'm not just picking up my phone just going to check something because there's nothing to check, right? And I have my email buried somewhere in here, but I'm as I said, inbox zero. So not much to check there. So I find myself waking up now and doing nothing but pick up my phone, there's nothing there, look at my calendar, put it down.

Speaker 2: I love this because the reason why I love this topic is because it all comes full circle to something we talked about a lot in the early days of this podcast, which is Stephen Covey and the big rocks, right?

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: That has not changed but I think everything else gets in the way of the big rocks. And if you can block two hours in your day and get the one big thing done, then you can go do all that stuff.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And that's an important concept from that book. And the book that we talk about and we give out here, the one thing is derived from that book. And this book that I just mentioned Make Time is derived from that book as well, right? The big rocks, they call them highlights in the book. They have a system for organizing highlights. And this is not a dig on any of these authors. This is actually what we should be doing all stems back to Stephen Covey's work. And I'm sure Stephen Covey's work stems back to something else, right? It's all derivative. And so these concepts that are in here are important in evergreen and we'd been talking about them since back in the day with Stephen Covey's book.

Speaker 2: Before you sign off, just explain the big rocks thing for a second.

Speaker 1: Okay. So the big rocks is Stephen Covey and the seven habits of highly effective people and effective is an important thing, which they also talk about in this book, right? Another thing for Stephen Covey's book, it's effective. It's about being effective, not about being productive.

Speaker 2: Being busy should never be confused with being effective.

Speaker 1: Exactly. Boom. That's why I said that sentence because you can be productive by just being busy, by just having a long to do list, checking things off that to-do list and saying, boy, am I productive? I did all my to- do list today, right? But in reality, you weren't effected. You didn't get anything done. Effecting this goes back to the concept of big rocks and what Stephen Covey says is that, look, if you look at all the energy, the glycogen, the load, everything, the energy that you have in a given day, mind power energy. If you thought about that as a big jar. And so it's a finite amount of energy in there, you can fill that jar in lots of different ways, right? Meaning you can use up that energy in lots of different ways. You can fill it up with this jar with a bunch of tiny little rocks and then you'll fill it up to the top, right? And so you've used all of the capacity that you have with a bunch of tiny little things that are inconsequential. And then you'll notice once you fill it up, you can't fit any big things in there, right? Because all the rooms taken up. Or you can empty that jar and say, I'm going to fill it with a huge rock. And then I'm going to fill it around with any excess energy that I have load with smaller rocks. And when you have that big rock, you've made progress, you've done what they call a highlight in this book. Other people have called it lots of different things. In the One Thing they call it the one thing to focus on. So all the same thing, it's like you have a fixed amount of energy every day, mental energy. That's why I don't love to do lists too much and things like that because you don't want to use up your energy with that kind of stuff. Pick a big rock, today's big rock I hope for G2 is filming this amazing podcast. crosstalk. This is one of the big rocks, right?

Speaker 2: You're late. We got to go.

Speaker 1: We got to go. He stays on me.

Speaker 2: He keeps us on track. crosstalk

Speaker 1: He means me. Yeah, a pager. And so you want to use that energy wisely.

Speaker 2: Amen.

Speaker 1: All right.

Speaker 2: We some more reviews.

Speaker 1: We got some reviews are starting to trickling in, they're trickling in. But no one in our reviews yet has to loot it, the Venezuelan.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And if you're confused on how to spell it, it's the letter G and the number two. So don't overthink it, just put it in there.

Speaker 1: Yeah. The mustache bandit, the king of Venezuela, the video is the most famous video person from Venezuela I'm pretty sure. G2. Please give him a little shout out. Leave the little six star rating. We have a bunch of interesting stuff that we're working on in the crates. I suggested today an author to our co- host Maggie. And she said, oh, you should get this author, she's really good. She said, I'm interviewing her tonight.

Speaker 2: Wow.

Speaker 1: And I said-

Speaker 2: You had no idea?

Speaker 1: I had no idea.

Speaker 2: Pretty good.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Speaker 2: All right.

Speaker 1: That's what happens when you have them brought here. All right, see you later.

Speaker 2: See ya.


Alright. If you’re into personal productivity (and getting more stuff done at work) then this episode is for you. DC and DG talk about Slack and a recent shift in how we’re communicating internally at Drift, plus lessons from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and a new book “Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.” Before you go leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and share the pod with your friends! Be sure to check out more insights on the Drift blog at drift.com/blog and find us on Twitter @davegerhardt @dcancel and @seekingwisdomio.