I predict "Vertical working" will become a massive thing in the future
Imagine spending your day working the way you scroll through your Linkedin Newsfeed. You get updates, comment on them, create new tasks, etc.
So one way I’ve come to like describing the way I work is “Vertical working” and I think it has been absolutely transformative for my efficiency.
But I think as tools evolve…. it will be possible in the coming future to take this to a whole different level.
First, what is “Vertical Working”
Vertical working to me means using a project management system that has ‘notifications’ and the guiding principle of your day is to keep your notifications clean.
My favorite system is of course Clickup. But you could probably do the same with Monday.com, Asana and other task management systems.
Perhaps even Notion… though I think their project mgmt features are crap.
It’s ‘vertical’ because these notifications stack vertically (newest on top) and I just work my way through them from top to bottom clearing them as I go. Till they are empty.
By ‘clearing’ them i generally either:
respond to a comment
click ‘like’ if i’m just acknowledging i saw it
change status, eg. “to approved” to reflect we can now move on
“Vertical working” just massively expands how much you can do in a day
To give you an idea…. I work across about six different Clickup workspaces in a given day and i’d estimate that on average per day:
I clear between 100 - 200 notifications from 20-30 different team members on various projects, and it takes me less than an hour to do.
I create 20-30 tasks for team members to do (a task usually takes me approx. 2 minutes to write up)
Note that a lot of tasks require you to do stuff outside of Clickup, eg. make a presentation, make a model in Google Sheets, etc. And so more of my time is spent actually executing on the tasks.
But the operating system driving what I do next is always Clickup.
Why is it better than the old way of working (in my view)?
I’ve refined the way I work over the last few years since first adopting Clickup, but generally I would say:
It’s not a problem for me to manage 30-40 people directly (which is like 4x more than the previous way i worked)
I am now fearless about doing numerous big projects at the same time because the way i structure tasks pretty much removes any friction in switching contexts
I’ve realized that even if you do a lot of stuff…. as long as you stick to the system and have a team that helps you execute… you are rarely the ‘bottleneck’.
Meaning despite doing so many things… the bottleneck is pretty much always a team member.
For example at this very moment i’m trying to think of whether I have a single task in my six different Clickup workspaces that are actually pending me to do something.. and I do not think there is a single one.
What does good look like?
So imagine working numerous large projects, managing a team of 5-10 in each, and:
because you structured all of the projects into clear tasks with assignees, statuses, and comment updates… it is always very clear who is doing what and where they’re at
because you have due dates on all tasks that are started you have a relatively accurate view on when things will finish, which you update during your standups.
And note that it’s not just about using Clickup or Asana… as is often misunderstood.
It is all the other elements of the system that bring discipline, transparency and responsiveness.
How do I think it’s going to evolve?
I think more and more people are going to convert to this way of working over time. And the tools are going to get better and better at streamlining everything to make it easier and faster.
For example…. I would be surprised if in a decade 90%+ of folks are using some type of system like this. Why?
Because you just get a lot more shit done. And if i’m paying someone a salary… I want them getting as much shit done as possible.
So I don’t allow them to choose “how’ they get it done as many managers do….
…rather I tell them exactly how they will get it done, and I will continuously nudge them till they do.
As a result they get it done faster, better and with more support from me.
I think more and more managers will ‘get this’ over time. Thereby moving from this popular philosophy that its more important to bring ‘results’ than focusing on process.
Because reality is… if the process is good… the results tend to be better and faster.
And I find this the single, most powerful thing you can do to improve a person or a team… because let’s face it.. you won’t change most of the rest.