Inside TPHQ! How the Think Productive UK team get things done.

7/2/2012 |

At Think Productive UK, we like to walk our talk.
Here are 5 ways the TPHQ team stay productive:

1. Four-day working week trial, by Elena

Some of you may have already heard me raving on about the trial we’re currently undertaking at TPHQ. The idea was to do the same number of hours per year, but to compress it into a Monday-Thursday working week (with slightly longer work-days) and with each of us working one Friday a month to make up the extra hours and cover the phones. The results of our month’s trial were good but we felt we needed to extend the trial to really feel the benefits of those long weekends. So the trial is now continuing through January, February and March. We’re all doing a staff survey at the beginning and end of every day to track how we’re feeling and how productive we felt the day went for us. Personally I like the slightly longer work-days as I like working off the productive momentum built up through the flow of the day for an extra 90 minutes or so. And the 3-day weekends are nice too! Watch this space for the full results in a few months!

2. TPHQ’s Daily huddle, by Lisa

We start the day with the ‘daily huddle’, a concept taken from Verne Harnish’s book ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’. The ‘rules’ of the daily huddle are simple: it’s to last no more than 15 minutes, and can take place by either conference call or face to face. We at TPHQ like to do ours at 9:40am (we have nicknamed it the 9:40), the early huddle gives us a productivity kick start and it helps to focus us on what is important to TP each day and what needs working on.

Here are the questions we use:

What’s your good news?
What are you working on?
Where are we up to with the numbers and targets in the business?
What are we stuck on?
Are we all OK for tomorrow?

3. Corey’s weekly shop
Wherever you work, you need to go shopping once a week to buy milk, tea bags and the like. We’ve turned this into a weekly shop that also stocks up on productive, good-energy foods for the team. We buy lots of fruit, nuts, fresh ginger and lemon for teas and healthy granola bars. It’s not quite as grand as the kitchens at eBay, but it’s a great way of making sure all the team are full of energy and keep the Mars bars to a minimum!

4. PA weekly checklist, by Lisa

Working as Graham’s PA is a busy job (!) and there is a lot of variation to my role. To help me keep on top of things and maintain my productive momentum, Graham and I have devised a “PA Weekly Catch-Up” meeting which happens every Monday. We usually spend between 30mins to an hour going through the next couple of weeks discussing logistics and PA tasks, catching up on our “waiting” lists, delegating tasks and going through our finance procedures. The regularity of the catch up helps to thin out any potential risks and is a really useful tool to minimize disrupting Graham too much! It helps give structure to my week, gives me focus on the “big rocks” and helps ensure it’s a productive week!

5. Elena’s “Do Not Disturb” Cat!

Here at TPHQ, we’re all pretty good at not disturbing each other in the middle of the day. Interruptions can really distract you from the task in hand, and apparently it can take up to 15 minutes to get back the level of focus after an interruption. We all use our “agendas” lists to store up questions for our colleagues, so we can approach them a couple of times a day, rather than whenever the mood hits (if you’ve been on a “How to Get Things Done” workshop, you’ll know what I mean here). However, sometimes we need that extra level of concentration and need to put up some sort of “do not disturb” sign to send out the strong message that you are not to be disrupted from your flow. It’s for these special “focus” times that I get out my Chinese “Cat” ornament and put it on my desk. It’s my way of saying to the rest of the office that I am not available. And it works!


If you’re looking for time management training, our ‘How to Get Things Done’ workshops offer the basics on how to implement these ideas, along with tips and tricks from David Allen, Peter Drucker, Tim Ferriss and many more! It’s available in-house to your company or also through our public workshops across the UK.

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