The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Related to my focus last week, Shawn Blanc and his team are experimenting with how they structure their work time in 2017. Taking cues from the Basecamp team, they’re trying an 8 week cycle, where focused work happens in weeks 1–6, followed by a buffer week, then finishes up with a week off.

It’s an interesting concept with a couple of benefits. One, the team members will take time off. That sounds a bit pedantic, but in environments like Shawn’s, with basically an open vacation policy, people end up taking far less time off than they should. As Shawn alludes to:

During those 20 months, I took roughly 3 weeks of vacation time, and that includes holidays. I was so locked in on a few huge projects I was working on that I kept pushing forward and took very little time off.

Second, the 6 week period of work should be very focused and productive. Since they know they have a buffer week to take care of all the little details, plus a week of rest, those first 6 weeks should be free from some of the regular concerns that take up a lot of our time.

Is this something everyone should do? I would not go so far as to say that. There are a couple of aspects of this schedule that would not sit well with me. First, the extreme focus of the 6 weeks of focus work may get boring. I like some variety, so I want to work on a couple of major initiatives at the same time. Second, I’d be curious to see if that one week of buffer is enough.

If you focus so hard for 6 weeks that some of the administrative responsibilities of your job are put aside that entire time, I’m not sure 1 week would be enough. On top of that, Shawn mentioned that buffer week is also intended as a time of review of the past 6 weeks, plus planning for the next 6 week cycle. That all sounds like a bit more than can be handled within 5 business days.

Concerns aside, it’s a curious approach. I’ll be interested to hear their results.