Focus Days

The greatest decision we ever made at beehiiv.

I fucking hate meetings.

At beehiiv we have two focus days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) where you aren’t supposed to have any internal or external meetings whatsoever. Deep work only.

It’s truly the best decision I’ve ever made at the company.

  • On a personal level — waking up and planning my day without feeling rushed to work around my calendar is so incredibly freeing.

  • On a company level — they are above and beyond the most productive days of the week. Considerably more gets done in those 2 days than the other 3 days combined.

But how did we get here?

Back when we were building beehiiv as a side project on nights and weekends, the team was just Ben, Jake, and I.

There was no GTM strategy, no one building financial projections, no office searching… nada. We were just 3 engineers with a seemingly endless roadmap of things to build before we could ever even launch this thing.

We would have a single weekly meeting on Wednesday nights to chat about our progress, re-prioritize things, and divvy up what was to be done next. Can think of it as a weekly engineering standup of sorts.

We used this janky Notion table to create our pre-launch roadmap.

Looks like we gave up on updating statuses

And after meeting on Wednesdays… we’d go heads down balancing both our real jobs and this on the side. Finding whatever time we could to build out the foundation of the app.

Andrew Platkin joined us part-time in the summer of 2021 and worked for free to prove his worth. His worth was proven 100x over and he ended up joining us as CTO as soon as we secured seed funding and could pay his salary.

So now we were 4 engineers building as quickly as possible to try and catch the dozens of well established (and well-funded) incumbents in the email space. There was no time for meetings, there was simply too much to build.

Given the context, our next two hires made perfect sense…

Community & Support Manager

Hey, we're super busy building new features. Can you just try and build relationships with new users, answer their questions, and let us know if anything is broken?

Growth Manager

Hey, this thing is kinda working and people are using it… can you go find more people to use it?

As we scaled the engineering team beyond the 4 of us, we implemented a quick 30 minute daily standup to check in on progress, unblock each other, and prioritize for the next 24 hours.

And then we began to scale the growth team, support, partnerships, sales, etc. Each team required a few weekly meetings to brainstorm, discuss priorities, and continue to block and tackle.

My days began to look like this…

  • Wake up with 8 things on my to-do list

  • Have 6 meetings

  • Finish meetings with now 14 things on my to-do list

  • Start working on to-do list at 4pm

Something every founder can relate to.

The result: late nights and long weekends to float above the endless sea of to-do’s.

But eventually I said fuck that, I need a day where I can just chug through everything in peace so I’m not constantly drowning.

Me at some company all hands cerca 2022

Focus Day Wednesdays were born and they were magnificent. Placed right in the middle of the week so everyone had a day to take action on things discussed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but required deep work.

We rolled it out to the entire company with a “do whatever you possibly can to protect your calendar and not schedule anything on Wednesdays.”

And unanimously everyone loved them.

But what they don’t tell you is that Focus Days are a Schedule 1 drug. Once you get a taste you can’t help but want more.

I can’t remember what I was doing this week, but I was probably overwhelmingly stressed when Daniel hit me with this.

That “kinda” didn’t last long. I suggested it to the broader team in our main Slack channel a full 6 minutes after that DM with Daniel.

And the crowd goes wild…

Did we have over 40 employees at the time? Yes.

Did I hit 'em with a casual “yo just completely change everything about your calendar” on a Wednesday night at 6:30p? Yes.

But let me tell you… we are so dialed in as a company right now 🧘🏽.

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Credit: @archdose

Beautiful but decently odd seating arrangement… what are you supposed to sit on the table? AI is never going to take my job.

Reply with your own AI generated office and I’ll feature it in an upcoming issue.

Turn on, tune in, drop out. Click on any of the tracks below to get in a groove — each selected from the full Big Desk Energy playlist.

Some of my favorite content I found on the internet this week…

  • Mo Golshan aggregated and organized startup lessons from Keith Rabois and they’re pretty fantastic (Notion)

  • Product Marketing Manager from Spain got laid off and made a video that went super viral (Twitter)

  • Humanoid robot startup Figure is getting a ton of hype lately. Here’s their robot filling a cup of coffee (YouTube)

  • Just a quality tweet tbh 👇️ 

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