Week 107: The 4-Day Workweek and Read-Later Services

Igor continues the documentation of our 4-day workweek experiment and combines it with opening thinking about how much time we spend on creating breadcrumbs.

Week 3 of our little experiment.

Feeling more guilty now then ever when I read anything on one of the four not-for-input days.

Still, feeling a lot more synchronicity between my being increasingly interested in everything and running a small company.

There is still one main question that remains unanswered: will we manage to stick to the rigidity of four output days and one input day? Especially when the work load rises. The questions that I ask myself are: Will I really be able to explain to my clients that this is how we work and that they need to wait? Is it actually fair to expect that from clients? What if I actually would prefer working on a project instead going into an input day? Even with a testing phase, it will be hard to find a definitive answer to that. All of this is part of the experiment.

That brings me to my current iteration of how I save, consume and process my information.

There are an incredible number of read-later services out there. I’ve been testing many. My latest favourite is Pocket. Not because of its design – I prefer Quote.fm and Readability in that regard – but because it also can save videos and provides the best multi-platform solution right now.

On my output days, I try to send as much of the stuff that sounds interesting directly into Pocket without even opening it up in the browser. That minimises distraction. On my input day, I start with the few newsletters that I actually read. These days, it’s mostly the one from Quartz and the New York Times. After that, I switch to Pocket and the saved items. Being interested in many things is in itself a good personal trait, but not necessarily one that always helps the business goals. That’s why we attempt to make the most out of the things that we read and not only on a cognitive level for us personally. Let me show you how the process looks right now.

  1. Saving article into Pocket
  2. Opening it up in a browser
  3. Enabling Evernote’s Clearly to mark important passages and automatically sync them into my Evernote account
  4. If the article is in some way relevant to what we do, save it – with an appropriate description and tagging mechanism – into Pinboard so that it can be easily integrated into our “What we read this week” blog post and newsletter
  5. In most cases, when I do that, I’m also inclined to post it to Twitter and Facebook. For that, I use Buffer to get the most out of my posts
  6. Post an interesting passage to Quote.fm

That’s a lot of breadcrumbing right there. Recently, and looking mainly from a business perspective, I found myself asking whether I’m investing my time sensibly. It is incredibly hard to measure a direct business impact for all of that. It’s actually impossible. My experience and instincts tell me that I should continue and try to automate wherever possible.

I’d love to hear thoughts from other people on this topic.

Week 68

A reflection on our business, plus a digital and a non-digital tip in this week’s notes.

After having Igor and Peter cover for me in the last weeks, I’m finally back at writing a week note. The first weeks of the new year have been super busy. We’ve finished a big social media strategy handbook (180 pages) for a client and I helped out an agency with a strategy workshop. Good feedback all around keeps the motivation and the energy level high.

Reflections on our business

Nevertheless, I now have the time to take a moment and reflect a little on recent developments. As Peter and Igor described already, we’ve been upping our public content output throughout the last weeks and will continue to do so in the next weeks and months. Talking about the topics on our minds is proving to be the best source of new business development for us.
At the heart of our business, we’re a topic-driven consultancy – focussing on topics like networked cities, quantified self, social media business and strategy etc. – instead of method-based (as in workshop-formats, brainstorming-technics etc.). We’re producing our best work when we can immerse ourselves deeply into a topic that emerges at the fringes of our radars and help our clients grasp the meaning of it for their customers and consequently for their business.
If you’d ask me right now what Third Wave is, I’d answer that we’re a mixture of a think tank and a strategic consultancy. We explore topics and trends, publish content around that and then advise our clients on how to apply these insights to reach their companies’ goals.

Group-reading with Instapaper and Ifttt

Let’s get a bit more practical. A lot of you seem to enjoy Igor’s description of how we use Pinboard and special tags to collect content for our weekly reads etc.
Another thing I’ve really enjoyed is our setup to share interesting articles with each other automatically. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Instapaper is at the core of our reading system (with the Kindle as our favorite reading device for Instapaper). As Igor described, we save interesting articles in Pinboard with a special tag. We then use Ifttt to send all the interesting articles to our Instapaper accounts. Ifttt is an amazing service that lets you connect one service with another. You can create tasks that work with the format of ‘If this happens in this service then do that in that service’. In this case, we let Ifttt check the RSS feed for our special tag on Pinboard. Whenever there is a new item because on of us has saved an article, Ifttt sends the item to our Instapaper accounts. So, whenever I open Instapaper, I not only have the articles I’ve saved in my browser, I also have all the articles that Igor and Peter deemed interesting. So on the Kindle I basically get a new selection of all the articles Third Wave thinks are interesting every morning. Another manifestation of the personalized newspaper. So much for the digital hackery this time.

Shower notes

Here’s another non-digital tip as some of you like the magic paper we mentioned in another week note. You know how you always seem to come up with the best ideas in the shower? That’s not really surprising as the shower is one of the last really undisturbed places that is mostly distraction free. Our minds can run crazy for a little while. The only problem: it’s kinda difficult to capture ideas in the shower. Enter Aquanotes. A simple notepad that works while wet and even under water. And now they’re finally available in Germany. Yeah, yeah, make all the jokes you want. But being able to capture ideas wherever, whenever is a key advantage. Order them now and thank us later in your Cannes Lions acceptance speech.

Quantified Self update

Peter continued our work around Quantified Self last week with two German articles on Golem and a little scenario planning on how Quantified Self might look and feel like in a couple of years.

Next up

We’re looking forward to the transmediale festival here in Berlin next week. If you’re in town and like to have chat, please contact us. And as always, if you want to talk about anything I’ve mentioned here or if you think we can help you with something, let’s connect.