2021: Flexibility for more balance and more Saent







May 7, 2022

It wasn't until the pandemic that topics like focus, balance, and everything else Saent had always been about hit the mainstream, and so I wanted to spend more time on Saent again.

This is the eighth article in a series about Saent cofounder Tim's personal productivity journey and the history of Saent. The previous article was 2017 - 2020: Being productive back in the real world.

My time at KaiOS was unforgettable. But the pandemic made me realize I missed working flexibly, both in terms of time and location. I also doubted whether I wanted to stay in managerial roles. And, of course, I wanted to spend more time on Saent, as our mission only seemed more relevant with every passing year.

From the moment of having those first ideas about SANTT in 2014, I always felt we were late. "Someone else must be working on the same idea. The problem is so obvious." But it wasn't until the pandemic that topics like focus, balance, and everything else Saent had always been about hit the mainstream. Some similar ideas and products finally started appearing.

I made a big switch—from Marketing Director to writer at a fully remote agency specializing in high-quality content for tech companies, Animalz. My weeks wouldn't be dictated by the clock or an office anymore, only by whether I delivered two 1,500-word articles every week.

This change would give me lots of time for Saent. As my friend and former Saent coworker Josh Catone summed it up: "You can write 1,500 words in your sleep!"

The reality was different in the new job. I might have been the best writer at KaiOS, a company of mostly non-native English speakers. At Animalz, I was suddenly working alongside people who had honed their writing and content marketing skills for years.

Not much writing happened in my sleep, it turned out, and I needed 40+ waking hours weekly to keep up.

It was so bad, in fact, that I was ready to resign, and I had already admitted my foolish career choice to my wife. But then things started turning around, thanks to the trust, compassion, and encouragement from Animalz coworkers Cassie, Mark, and Nathan.

I still can't write 1,500 words in my sleep. But since mid-2021, I've gotten closer and closer to doing my Animalz work in under 30 hours per week, which finally left me with more time for Saent.

Two other benefits emerged from working at Animalz.

I got to work for Parabol, an online meeting tool for agile teams. This assignment allowed me to spend time digging into topics related to agile, a team, project, and organizational management philosophy I was only vaguely familiar with.

Agile offers many ideas and practices that have further shaped my thinking about productivity. Concepts like flow in work processes, limiting Work In Progress, and story points to replace time as a unit of measurement for knowledge work.

The other surprise benefit was that the former COO of Animalz, Haley Bryant, encouraged me to develop an internal productivity program for my coworkers.

And so I ended 2021 still at Animalz, with 50% of my work time there studying Agile and another 25% of it evolving my thoughts about productivity by coaching others.

Read next 👉️ 2022: Tame the ravenous work beast

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