How async communication enabled a four-day work week for me.

When I founded Bean Ninjas (eCom accounting firm) my goal was to build a 7 figure business and work less than 20 hours a week. Six years on and the business has a team of 25+, but I had made no progress on cutting back my hours.

My days were filled with meetings and it was hard to carve out blocks of time to focus on 'deep work'. Why tackle a difficult task when another zoom call was just around the corner.
By prioritising asynchronous (async) communication instead of meetings, in July this year I was able to cut back to a four-day work week.

The extra day has given me the headspace to focus on fitness, friendships and family, while the business has continued to grow.

Unfortunately, many founders are stuck in a cycle of endless meetings. Here are some ideas to help get started with async.

Async communication examples

Here are three practical async communication examples from my own experience:

  • Example #1 - Status updates
  • Example #2 - Weekly department meetings
  • Example #3 - "Can we jump on a call?" .... "How about async?"

Experimenting with some of these ideas might help to cut down the time you spend in meetings too.

Example 1: Move status updates to async

Why have a 30-minute meeting to get a status update? Instead what about receiving a 3-5 minute loom video which you can watch at your convenience (and a 2x speed).

I don't see any reason why a status update needs to be done live.

Now I work with team members to agree on a schedule for status updates. This gives me the added benefit of batch reviewing the status updates and having more time for deep work.

Example 2: Adapting weekly department meetings

Every week I have a content marketing meeting scheduled (and a number of others)

The agenda is sent out a day prior to the meeting with status updates at the top and items requiring discussion listed at the bottom. Some weeks we can quickly cover off the discussion items via Slack or loom videos and then skip the meeting so we can get back to work.

By sending an agenda in advance and being open to async communication you may find you can skip some meetings too.

Example 3: "Can we jump on a call?"....."how about async?"

I would be asked at least 3 times a week 'can we jump on a call to discuss this?". My default answer used to be "yes", but now my default response is to see whether we can handle it async.

It turns out that many things don't actually need a meeting.

Providing feedback to a team member is often better via a loom video as they can watch replays.

Asking a team member to write out the question they want to discuss or asking them to share a loom video forces conciseness (a 30-minute call is condensed to a 5 minute video)

I don't think meetings will ever be fully replaced, but I think it is time to be more intentional about what meetings we say yes to and what we can do asynchronously.

Content

NameExcerpt
1
2
© 2022 meryl.johnston.com
3
Made with Super & Notion