One of the most effective productivity hacks I’ve learned recently is what I call “manager-cron” or “1-1 cron”. It’s very simple: at the top of my weekly 1-1 Google doc is a section that looks like this:

A Google Doc that has the following text: bullet 1: [recurring, every two weeks, next is 9/15] Feedback for each other (one positive, one constructive) bullet 2: [recurring, weekly] blog update?

Listed are a few ongoing conversations we want to have or projects I’m working on, and every week in our 1-1 it’s a short topic by default. And just the fact that I know I’ll have to justify something every week makes me a lot more likely to actually do it - topics can’t quietly slide off into the abyss like so many personal projects do.

And notice that one of the topics is regular, explicit, bidirectional feedback – this has worked well as a way to force both parties to think of good feedback on an ongoing basis, instead of just at performance review time.

Now, this works best when:

  • it’s something you actively want to do, not something you’re being asked or told to do (think “accountability” not “nagging”)
  • you have a decent amount of trust with your manager
  • you’re a higher-conscientiousness type who responds well to deadlines even when you know they’re a little artificial

Give it a shot!