Guest blog by Silverfox: It’s been suggested that no one seems to have a normal job in San Francisco. Perhaps what we’re seeing is a fundamental shift in what having a job and building a business means these days. One thing however always remains the same: the need to be mindful of how you spend your time and attention.
I’m Mark and this guest blog post is brought you by Silverfox. We’re a brand engagement agency located in San Francisco’s Mission district. We started using Yast to track our time at the beginning of 2012 and we love it. We even started decorating our office with various Yast inspired posters. We were asked by the Yast team to describe how we use their product and how it’s quickly become a critical part of our work flow. So here goes.
Who is Silverfox?
We’re a fourteen person operation with growing list of remote workers. What do we do? Much of our business is based on this observation: Culture Wins. We help our clients make authentic contributions to the culture of their audience. We help brands take meaningful actions and be part of the conversations that help drive their business. This means we work extensively in everything from social media to brand development. You might see us working with artists, Hackerspaces, or dressing up as our favorite Holiday movie characters. And later this year you can see us at the Olympics.
How do we use Yast?
A lot of us started our careers in the world of traditional global ad agencies. If you know anything of this industry then you, like us, are familiar with some of the most well meaning, but ultimately painful and confusing, time tracker solutions that have ever been created. This is why Yast has been such a breath of fresh air.
We like to think that we are not a conventional organization. For instance several of us are rocking the stand up desk. Many of the team work remotely and we are empowered to own and lead our projects. We have a sign taped above our light switch that we see when we enter and leave the office every day to remind us that You don’t need anyone’s permission to be awesome. However, as Stan Lee reminds us, with great power comes great responsibility. To be accountable to our clients and our own bottom line we need tools to capture and record how we’re spending our time.
Many of us here at Silverfox are devotees of David Allen’s personal productive system called GTD or Getting things done. A great feature of this system is that it takes into account of the fact that we’re not all industrial revolution era machines. We have flaws, blind spots and limits. Many of the GTD techniques are built around the insight that if something isn’t easy and frictionless to do then it won’t get done (or it won’t get done as frequently or as accurately). If you start with the end in mind and arrange your tools around those goals you’ll have a much better chance of meeting them. David Allen even recommends, for instance, investing in a high end filing cabinet if you have paper to store since there will be literally less mechanical friction on the draws as you open and close them and you’ll use it more as a result. Essentially: It’s all in the details.
This is where Yast comes in. We’ve found that it’s the single most frictionless and easy to use tool to help you follow through on consistently tracking your time. Here’s the best part; it shapes itself around how you work. Whether, like me, you’re a “real timer”; someone who inputs the time you work on projects as you’re doing the work, starting and stopping your clocks as you go, or the “after the fact folks”â€”people who spend time at the end of each day or week filling in their time against the work they did. The ability to “paint in” your time, or move blocks around is extremely freeing and it’s a lot closer to how we think about digital content.
I’ve personally noted a neat side effect of seeing how you spend your day with all the colored blocks neatly stacked up on the timeline. It helps you stay focused. You need to take breaks but I want to avoid the dead time between tasks where I might be just procrastinating. I get a kick from keeping up a good rhythm of productivity and I find that the work I do is better as a result. I’m reminded of an interview with Jerry Seinfeld back in 2007 where he talked about his process to stay focused on his writing.
[…] “For each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
In summary we’d like to give a big thanks to James Gunaca who heads up our Analytics and IT operations here at Silverfox for finding and implementing Yast. Also if you happen to see any our feature requests feature requests on the forum please up vote them.
And finally if you’re in the Mission on April 12th please buy a ticket and come by our first VulpesVulpes charity event benefiting the SF Food Bank. $30 gets you three awesome bands and an open bar