Chief of Staff @ Forethought
432 karmaJoined Jan 2018


Chief of staff at the Forethought Foundation (project of EV UK and EV US). Former ED of EA Norway.


So great that you've revamped the site!!

Two heads up:

  • The feedback link in this post doesn't work. 
  • This url that's linked to in the resources also doesn't work.
Answer by eirineSep 26, 20233

Using physical kanban boards.

I learned about kanban boards at EA NTNU during my undergrad, and it greatly improved my productivity in my studies. It's a physical task management system using a board (or just a wall) and post-its. It involves writing down all your tasks for the day on post-its (one task per post-it) and then moving each post-it between three different columns: 

  • To-do – this is a backlog of tasks where you place all your post-its at the start of the day, ideally prioritised by importance. 
  • Doing – this is whatever task you're doing and it should at most have space for two post-its, ideally one.
  • Done – for all the tasks you've completed.

It helps me a lot to have to write down each task on a post-it, and then physically move each post-it between the three categories. I used to use a kanban all the time, but I now only use it when I have generally lower productivity. I highly recommend using it religiously at first, however. As a general rule, I think it's best to become well-versed in a system or productivity tool before straying from it or substantially adapting it.

Answer by eirineSep 26, 20233

Co-working with others.

This works so well that I sometimes don't want to do it because I know it will work.

Doing online pomodors (25 min working, 5 min break) is basically how I got through the pandemic without a huge hit to my productivity. Back then, I benefitted from co-working the whole day. Now, it's only counterfactually beneficial for a few hours each day or week, so I only do it a few times. 

Answer by eirineSep 26, 20233

Peer-mentoring and coaching calls.

I'm not sure if this has made me work harder, but it's definitely helped me work better. There are two types of mentoring calls I've tried and found helpful:

  1. Coaching calls with someone more experienced. These have been really useful for learning about best practices and getting external input from someone who has experience with the types of issues I'm experiencing at work. For example, I first learned about situational leadership in one of these coaching calls, and that greatly changed how I did management and helped me improve at managing up. 
  2. Peer-mentoring calls with someone in a similar position. For the last 4-5 years, I've had biweekly or monthly peer-mentoring calls with the same person. They've been really helpful in discussing object-level issues in my job and sense-checking how I'm approaching different projects at work. A big part of these calls is setting goals for how we want to develop professionally, and holding each other accountable to those. 
Answer by eirineSep 26, 20234

Frequently asking for feedback.

I realised a while back that if I don't know whether I'm doing a good or poor job, it increases the number of tasks I find ughy and how much I procrastinate. 

To help with this, I've included a prompt in our weekly meeting templates at work to give each other feedback or "half-baked thoughts" at every meeting. We have performance reviews every 6 months, and I'll very often feel a boost in motivation and productivity after those. I also have a document bookmarked in my browser called "Feeling down?" with a checklist for what to do when I'm feeling particularly low mood, and asking for positive feedback is on that list.

Answer by eirineSep 26, 20233

Regular productivity check-ins.

The past 1-2 years I've had a 30-minute productivity check-in with the same person every week. These have increased my productivity on average, and because of them I very rarely have more than half an unproductive week.

Sometimes, the thing that helps most is just writing down what I'm thinking about, and figuring out a solution myself by writing. Other times, it's the other person asking questions like "How important is it?” and “What would you tell someone else in your position to do?”.

Answer by eirineSep 26, 20233

Frequently change and adapt the methods I use to be productive. 

How productive I am changes substantially throughout the day, but also throughout the month. I think of myself as three colleagues: "Morning Eirin" who is decisive and internally motivated, "Afternoon Eirin" who needs a lot of productivity tools to stay on task, and "Evening Eirin" who enjoys deep work. They all need different tools, systems, and sources of motivation. 

I'll also reliably have some days each month when I feel negative about everything and will have low motivation, self-discipline, and self-confidence. I've gotten better at realising when I'm in that mood, which makes it easier to work with it rather than against it.  During those days, I need more time to reflect, and will for example do more walking meetings with myself. Change of scenery will have a larger effect on me, and so I'll for example go to a cafe for a couple of hours to do the most important but boring tasks (usually emails). I also need more words of encouragement, and will look at comments in a complement channel we have on Slack or other positive feedback I've received.

I did consider calling it "four coping mechanisms if you're lonely at work" 🙃

I used to work at EA Norway, which is a fee-paying membership society, and thought it might be useful to share more on how our funding worked. This is just meant as an example, and not as an argument for or against membership societies. (Here's a longer comment explaining how we organise things at EA Norway.)

I can't speak to EA Norway's current situation, as I no longer have any position at EA Norway (other than being a paying member). However, I can say what it was like in 2018-2021 when I was Executive Director (ED). The total income from the membership fee roughly covered the cost of the general assembly. Most of our funding came from a community building grant from the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA). However, the board made sure to fundraise enough from private donors for my salary. The two main reasons for this was to I) diversify our funding, and II) enable us to make longer term plans than CEAs grant periods.

When the board gave approval to accept the community building grant from CEA, we discussed that if at any point we did not want to follow CEAs guidelines and success metrics, we would pay back the remainder of the grant. This was definitely easier for us to say and truly mean when we had covered the ED's salary from other sources, as it meant that if we were to return the funding, we would still have at least one employee. We never ended up disagreeing so much with CEA that we wanted to return the funds, though we were definitely very vocal about any disagreements we had with the groups team at CEA and did push for some changes.

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