Anil Dash is the CEO of Glitch, a coding platform that helps web app developers work more efficiently and effectively. The best technique he’s found for himself to work smarter, though, is fairly low tech.
“One of the biggest productivity boosters I’ve seen is, counterintuitively, one of the most time-consuming tasks I do,” he told Business Insider. “Spending time to regularly write, at length and in detail, about one’s key thoughts is a huge boost to being effective in our work, and in our lives overall.”
And Dash is a prolific writer: His blog had its 20th anniversary this past July.
Dash took over Fog Creek Software three years ago and relaunched it as Glitch, built around a developers’ platform with millions of users working at companies like Google and Microsoft, and enterprise clients like Spotify, Slack, and Trello. A fundamental aspect of its popularity is due to the way Dash and his team have built it around collaboration and community.
Those are two things Dash wants at his own company, and he said his habit of writing has helped make him a better leader in that sense.
“One of the key things that’s happened over the course of writing millions of words over the last two decades is that it has helped me clarify my thoughts, strengthen my arguments, sharpen my opinions, question my assumptions, and share my ideas,” he said. “It’s permanently upgraded my ability to communicate, even through the spoken word or in other contexts.”
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Dash writes about everything. You’ll find blog posts about his company’s latest moves, the state of tech in general, the importance of mental health, climate change, and one of Dash’s favorite topics, the late great artist Prince. When he’s writing about his industry and company, he’s clarifying the reasoning behind the decisions he makes as the CEO of a tech company; when he’s writing about something personal or fun, he’s keeping his communication style sharp, by forcing him to stay on topic and expressing his thoughts clearly.
The management consultant David Allen, best known for his book “Getting Things Done,” has said, “Your mind is made for having ideas, not for holding ideas,” and that general idea is why you’ll find journaling (blogging is essentially a more structured, public version of it) often recommended as a way to gain clarity and increase productivity.
For Dash, putting down ideas that he and his team have, as they did in their public company handbook, for example, is a way to work with such clarity.
As he told us: “The longer-form, more-reasoned writing that I’ve done has been the bedrock in making good decisions, and also has helped people I collaborate with see more of the thinking behind decisions we make, enabling them to be more autonomous and independent in their choices.”