Working days in Silicon Valley can be pretty tough. Notably, running a couple of projects with plenty of responsibility. Things are rushing, people are pushing things forward, and organisation slightly slips out of your hand.

Since I started working, I failed numerous times, keeping the overview and on the other hand focusing on one specific topic. Easy tiger. Just think inside boxes! Yes, that sounds quite weird, but it works. Less stress and an efficient agenda? Follow three steps. Box 1, Box 2, Box 3.

Box 1 the past

That’s right. People always tell you to look into the future. I say you are nothing without the past. If you don’t understand where you are coming from, there’s no chance you can kick ass in the next couple of years. That also appeals to your work especially your projects.

Write everything down; you have collected in the past. Be super precise.

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Protocols, presentations old papers – everything!  You will never have the problem to riffle every folder for the PowerPoint your boss is asking for. As long as you stick to this behaviour, the next file is only one click away.

To synchronise all notes, I recommend Evernote. It is affordable and works on every common device. Just put it in a box and fill it continuously!

Box 2 present

The “in between” is the most important one. If there is now data given, at least I would have absolutely no idea how to create the future or even write stuff down for Box 1?

Listen and ask questions! Sometimes it’s less important to say “something” in meetings. There are plenty of ways, expressing involvement.

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The most successful people are claiming never to talk much, but instead asking deep questions and listening to the person answers. Believe it or not, you get much more useful information than considered. The better you follow, the more you can save time, looking for files, thinking about what the other person meant or requestioning the purpose of a meeting.

Box 3 future

The future needs both. The past and the present to exist. Easy math. It makes, even more, sense, putting it in a career related context. A very competent and eminent colleague of mine told me once only short-sighted people, have nothing to do after a big deal was sealed. Strategic people already researched for the next business and are currently working on their first conceptions.

Standing out of the crowd is easy – just think ahead.

When you are listening and asking questions, think about the impact some ideas have about other projects. Abstract the basic concept and applying it to other complex issues gives a substantial advantage. Thinking in boxes doesn’t mean to limit yourself, it’s about tieing up your packages.

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