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Mostly technical things

T-Shaped Time: Little and Often Plus Dedicated Bursts

There’s a common concept of having “T-shaped skills” – combining both expertise in a specific area (the vertical bar of the T) plus breadth of knowledge and exposure to a variety of other things (the horizontal bar).

I’m a believer in spending what I call T-shaped time on things you care about: combining both “little and often” with periodic dedicated bursts.

For example, spring cleaning is awesome – it’s great to occasionally take the time dig around in the backs of cupboards to throw out old stuff, or go through that pile of papers gathering dust, or finally sort through that drawer that’s just become a dumping ground – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t occasionally run a vacuum cleaner around too.

If you manage people, then 1:1s are great for making sure the two of you have quality time to talk, but that shouldn’t mean you feel you need to “save up” conversations for then – especially with feedback which is best delivered as soon as possible.

We’ve all got friends who we only see every few years at some event – and it’s great when we do – as well as friends who we chat with regularly but never actually much more beyond that. Chances are that your closest friends are the ones you do both with.

Carving out some time to focus on a particular task is important. But if that’s the only time you spend on it, then progress can stall, things can atrophy, the kitchen can get dirtier and dirtier. At the same time, it’s easy to to end up doing minimum viable maintenance; just enough to keep something going without ever taking the time to push it beyond that and tackling the big tasks.

You need a balance – a T-shaped approach to how you spend your time and energy.

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