Productivity Spotlight: Michael Davies, RedHat

Written by
Macgill Davis

In this week's episode of Productivity Spotlight, we'll be speaking with Michael Davies, an account based marketer for RedHat.

Mind providing a short summary of your background, current job, and experience?

I’m an account based marketer for Red Hat. I’ve been with them for about a year now and before that I was a freelance marketing consultant working primarily in fintech.

What’s one unique aspect of your daily routine that keeps you productive?

Scheduling my tasks is probably the one thing that keeps me most productive.

I will schedule tasks to get done each day and add them to my calendar. I’ll schedule tasks at the end of each day for the next day. On Friday’s I’ll schedule out the tasks for Monday and bigger tasks for the upcoming week.

I use a scrum T-shirt sizing methodology for scheduling where small is roughly 15 minutes, medium is 30, large is an hour, and extra large is an hour and a half. I’ve gotten pretty good at these time estimates since picking up this practice.

It saves a bunch of time in the morning since I can dive right into the work without figuring out what has to be done.

Scheduling my tasks is probably the one thing that keeps me most productive.

How has your daily routine changed since working from home this past year?

The biggest change has been no commuting in the mornings. I found my commute to and from work was a great opportunity to wind up or wind down and change mindsets between work and personal life.

I’ve made a few changes to my daily routine to try to recreate that separation.

I start and end each day with a walk. I’ve found that to be effective in creating the separation to wind up and down.

Another change that I’ve been loving has been buying casual clothes that I only wear working. I purchased a few RedHat t-shirts and hoodies and I’ll only wear while I’m working. They’re a lot more comfortable and casual than what I used to wear into work, which was chinos with a shirt and jacket, but they’re different from what I wear outside of work. I call it my work uniform. It’s been a nice and easy way to separate work and personal life.

Another change that I’ve been loving has been buying casual clothes that I only wear working. I purchased a few Red Hat t-shirts and hoodies and I’ll only wear while I’m working.

Do you subscribe to any productivity methodologies? Why or why not?

I’ve been learning and implementing the Getting Things Done methodology over the past few years. One of the major aspects of GTD that I’ve found to be extremely helpful is centralizing your to-do list so you have all your requests in one place rather than scattered in a bunch of different sources.

Who are some less well-known people or resources that you follow for productivity inspiration?

Visualize Value has been a fun and interesting account to follow.

Auto-tagging in Gmail has been huge for my productivity. I auto-tag and color-code everything which helps me review and get through my tasks a lot more quickly.

Visualize Value has been a fun and interesting account to follow.

What is the one productivity tool you wouldn't be able to do without? Why?

It has to be my calendar. I use my Google Calendar for work and day-to-day scheduling. I have a big wall calendar right above my desk which has holidays, birthdays, and bigger milestones. I found this to be really helpful since Google Calendar is great for day-to-day but hard to visualize things on a larger scale. With my wall calendar, I can spot my mum’s birthday coming up rather than on the day.

Michael's big calendar behind his computer.

What’s a small change that’s boosted your productivity over the past year?

I’m actually going to say Rize. I love how it measures my productivity and deep work. It keeps me accountable to stay focused. I also love the break timer which I use for Pomodoro. It’s nice to see that I’ve been focusing for 25 minutes and then reward myself with a 5 minute break. So with measuring focus and implementing Pomodoro, it’s got a nice alchemy of a couple different things that help my productivity.

I’m still waiting for tagging though which will help me measure tasks. But from a retrospective perspective and reviewing my work it’s been a big boost to my productivity.

What are your productivity killers? How do you avoid them?

My puppy. I’ve got a Boston Terrier puppy who loves attention. He’s adorable but definitely a productivity killer.

I send him to doggy day care on Monday’s and that tires him out a bit. I also use these rubberized food containers and feeder toys that keep him occupied for a while. My cat is no trouble at all though.

Harvard, Michael's Boston Terrier puppy.

What’s top of mind for improving your productivity now and moving forward?

Starting with the end in mind is a quite good productivity hack. The journey to success is never a straight line but knowing where you want to end up ensures that you actually get there. It doesn’t matter how many detours or shortcuts you take. I love that this practice scales up and down. I do this on a day-to-day basis with tasks but also on a multi-yearly basis with career goals. I picked that up from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I imagine Joe Biden wrote down that he wanted to be president in his 30s or 40s and it took him a couple goes of it, but he got there.

Starting with the end in mind is a quite good productivity hack. The journey to success is never a straight line but knowing where you want to end up ensures that you actually get there. It doesn’t matter how many detours or shortcuts you take. I love that this practice scales up and down. I do this on a day-to-day basis with tasks but also on a multi-yearly basis with career goals.

What do you do if you miss your end goal?

Well if you miss a goal you have to evaluate why you missed and focus on not making the same mistake twice. I also think about leveraging my weaknesses if they’re the cause of missing a goal and turning them into a strength.

This might only apply at a more macro level, but how often do you recalibrate?

Well I’m constantly recalibrating. This is probably a bit of a contradiction but I’ll always overestimate how much I can get done in a day. If I miss all my goals I don’t take it too personally.Luckily, there’s no such thing as a marketing emergency so I can always pick it up the next day.

Macgill Davis is cofounder of Rize, a time tracker that improves focus and builds better work habits.

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