E816: Mike Ghaffary of Social Capital shares strategies for getting the edge with “Productivity for Your Startup: An Action Plan” @ LAUNCH Incubator



about this episode

In episode 816 of This Week in Startups, Mike Ghaffary, Partner at Social Capital, stops by LAUNCH Incubator to give a talk on productivity. He details techniques for reducing cognitive load, improving work proficiency, working almost 100 percent mobile, and more.

Join us for a discussion that addresses the unique challenges founders face in getting things done, as well as the importance of personal time and health.


00:48 — Introducing Mike Ghaffary, Partner at Social Capital. Mike lays the groundwork for the day’s talk by detailing the limitations of increasing productivity merely by working more hours.

04:18 — Mike covers his background in education, as a computer scientist, as an entrepreneur, and as an investor.

07:29 — Mike talks about the problem of inbox overload

08:00 — Thanks to our partners at Squarespace Inc., which powers all of LAUNCH’s event sites. Use offer code “twist” for 10 percent off from your first purchase.

10:09 — Mike discusses inbox zero, an email client that motivates the user to get through all messages. Mike says entrepreneurs don’t have to use that system, but they need some sort of system to prevent themselves from getting bogged down with email.

Mike recommends choosing from “The Four Ds” when going through email:

  • Do it (take an action, such as respond)
  • Delegate it
  • Delete it (read and archive)
  • Defer it (if it can’t be done now but requires an action, create a task or event)

14:13 — Mike explains the themes of the talk:

  • Attaining 50/50 proactive/reactive balance
  • Reducing cognitive load
  • There’s no time like the present
  • Be mobile — don’t put off tasks you think of as desktop activities

15:19 — Proactive vs reactive: Mike covers scheduling free time to think, using apps to simplify life.

24:12 — Mike says the most important tool relevant to productivity is a task list. The key feature requirement is syncing between mobile and desktop. He recommends no more than three prioritized tasks per day. Use actionable verbs. Create small tasks with urgency, not broad goals.

33:35 — Mike covers the importance of being able to do everything mobile and provides examples of how to perform tasks on mobile that people generally consider desktop activities.

35:55 — Thanks to sponsor Rxbar, a whole food protein bar company. Get 25 percent off your first order by visiting https://rxbar.com/twist and entering promo code “twist”

38:55 — Mike returns to discuss mobile productivity, starting with calendar use. He also notes that even spreadsheet work can be done while mobile. He says 99 percent of founder tasks can be completed while mobile. When you run into something that can’t be done mobile, create a task to find a new solution or to handle it later on desktop.

44:40 — Mike explains email bankruptcy: select all inbox emails, label them as “(month name) bankruptcy day” and archive them. They are still available when you have free time to go through them.

46:19 — Mike covers the benefits of using shortcut keys.


47:45 — How does budget figure into radical delegation?

51:13 — What do you think about recruiters, cost taken into account?

55:10 — How do you avoid being on your phone non-stop and disconnecting from others?

57:24 — Jason recommends removing unnecessary social and entertainment apps from your mobile device. He also recommends putting the device away after work.

59:10 — Was there an A/B test or success that led you to sending recruiting emails on Friday evenings?

1:01:58 — Can you walk us through your typical Thursday when you were CEO at Eat24?

1:03:13 — Jason and Mike discuss the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and exercise.

01:06:39 — Mike details the best times of day for specific types of activities for maximum productivity.

1:10:08 — Jason concludes the talk by summarizing the goal: making the best use of your time given your company’s stage.

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