This Easy however Sensible Calendar Hack From Shopify’s CEO Will Make Your 2021 A lot Extra Productive

There are a million and one clever calendar hacks that can help you get more productivity out of every hour of your day. But here’s the thing about those systems and rules: they’ll only make you more successful if you plan the right things.

As with any productivity consultancy, if you’re going in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter if you’re running super fast. Getting things done is only important if you are actually getting to your goals.

So how do you make sure that you are not only putting the maximum amount of work on your calendar, but also doing the right work? Tobias Lütke, CEO of Shopify, just shared a smart but simple suggestion in the Observer Effect newsletter.

Your priorities are (literally) to stare you in the face.

The newsletter takes the form of a super long interview with startup veteran Sriram Krishnan and is well worth reading in full. It’s hard to get just one glimpse to make him stand out, but when it comes to instantly actionable but impactful ideas, it’s hard to surpass Lütke’s approach to his calendar.

Like many CEOs, he stacks his days and takes certain blocks of time to focus on certain priorities. “In the end, I try to fit topics into my days. Like today, for example, I have a meeting with my small team to start the week. I have reserved my afternoon for product reviews – what we call” greenpathing exercises “- which, oddly enough, is I try to see how everyone thinks about the most important things we are working on, “he tells Krishnan.

Lütke doesn’t have any meetings on Wednesdays either. But he uses a different strategy than these more general tricks. In essence, it’s a color coding system for his calendar.

He explained the origins of the idea to Krishnan: “At some point I started complaining about blue weeks when every single time slot was occupied. And someone said, ‘Well, if you don’t like blue, I can do any color.’ And I replied : “Well, how about we dye based on leverage?” And that’s exactly what we did. “

Now Lütke and his team are marking their product-related obligations as red, investor and board activities as blue-green, and so on. This not only results in an aesthetically pleasing calendar. He can also check at a glance how his time is distributed.

“What I’m looking for is a balanced week. A week in which, ideally, I manage to devote at least 30 percent of the time – at least – to the product and then as much as possible to things like recruiting, which are bigger picture projects and one-on-one interviews, “he explains. “And if my calendar gets too external or too much of anything, it’s the first thing we see when we sit down for our priority meeting.”

The beauty of this approach isn’t hard to see (bad pun intended). Literally every time you open your calendar, whatever you’ve chosen to use your precious time is staring you in the face. That makes it a lot harder to ignore when your stated priorities don’t match your actual schedule.

So if you not only want to get something done next year, but also want to do the right thing, try Lütke’s colorful calendar trick. It’s very easy to implement and may show what is important to you and how you spend your time, not as precisely as you think.

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