Tiago Forte, Founder of Forte Labs, shares his approach to achieving focus in a fast-paced work environment, managing projects with multiple stakeholders, and “building a second brain.”
Product managers have many responsibilities. They work with multiple stakeholders, and often have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. That’s why I was thrilled to interview Tiago. He’s developed the best approach I’ve found for designing workflows, managing projects, and becoming more productive.
You may have heard of David Allen and his book, Getting Things Done. It’s become the go-to source for project management and personal productivity. Tiago’s approach builds on Allen’s system, applying the latest tools, and accounting for the challenges modern knowledge workers face. Tiago’s approach helps busy people use their brain for thinking instead of storage, break projects into actionable next steps, implement the right tools, and build habits to get work done.
Tiago first shares two foundational concepts: meta-skills and macro-laws. “Meta-skills” are constraints on how you work, to better leverage your knowledge, intelligence, time, network, and other resources. “Macro-laws” are constraints on what you work on, limiting your search space to a direction most likely to be fruitful. Macro-laws include seemingly small things, such as “I’m more productive in the morning,” and significant things, such a “I’m more right-brained than left-brained,” which can inform your career path.
I asked Tiago for advice on achieving focus in workplaces that are increasingly full of distractions in the form of open workspaces, meetings, Slack messages, and social media. His response was counterintuitive. Tiago advises listeners to change what you work on in a given environment instead of trying to change the environment. He recommends using software that lives outside your mind to make information easy to capture, organize, and find when you need it.
You’ll learn a lot from this episode about project management and productivity.
Here are the highlights:
The similarities between designing products and designing workflows (5:55)
How product managers can improve their “meta-skill” of working and decide what to work on in the first place (9:40)
How to achieve focus in a fast-paced work environment (14:30)
Tiago’s advice for forming new habits (21:25)
Tiago’s best practices for managing projects with numerous stakeholders (26:30)