Alicia Diamond

Chief of Staff Blog

Actionable advice, tips, and musings from a 2x Chief of Staff

How I wring more time out of each day

Thanks to a fast-paced, meeting-heavy role at an extremely fast-paced company, I’ve learned the value of tiny pockets of time. Not 10-15 mins here and there, but truly the 2 mins between meetings, when I find myself staying in the same room. 

Prior to this role, I was a bit of Goldie Locks about work. Whenever possible, I tried to get myself into the mode for Deep Work, a la Cal Newport. I needed giant swaths of time (2 hours, ideally) and I needed to be distraction-free: no Gchat, no music with lyrics, my day already organized so I could focus without the stress of that-which-I hadn’t-yet-acknowledged.

Now? I find those stretches of time to be a pure luxury, often relegated to days worked at home. Instead, I’ve discovered the power of micro pockets of time. I’m a big fan of the GTD system and follow the 2-min rule:

If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.
— David Allen

The problem is that 2-min tasks can add up. To 20 or 40 mins worth of tiny tasks, depending upon your role and responsibilities. As a Chief of Staff, a lot of my time is spending checking/nudging/re-checking/scheduling. So, I have a lot of 2-min tasks almost every day. 
I’ve learned that two-minutes is long enough to:

  • Re-send an email that has Boomeranged back into my inbox without a response

  • Catch up on muted Slack channels

  • Refill my mug of tea (if my meeting is on the same floor as the kitchen)

  • Text my husband a sweet message to let him know I’m thinking of him

  • Process a few paper notes and put them into Todoist

The system isn’t ideal, and I still need swaths of time to do thinking-intensive work, but I’ve learned to appreciate capitalizing on these micro pockets of time so that when a free hour comes along, I can jump right into the task that needs an hour, rather than catching up on tiny tasks. 




Alicia Diamond