One of my favorite practices I’ve adopted in my professional career is to write about everything I’m working on or thinking about in a place coworkers could see. I thought I’d share the ways I’ve made this work for me.
Make your own space⌗
The goal of having your own space is so you don’t have to think about or care about making a new page. Without it, you feel like you have to find the official place to write something authoritative about an official topic. I’m always fighting against this feeling of keeping things pristine in the main team or company spaces. You need to make a space of your own where you can play and mess up, one where you can quickly make a new page and jot down ideas to organize later without fear of making things disorganized.
Make it so people can skim⌗
I’ve found it’s best to say a lot and a little in the same space. You want people to be able to get the gist of your idea in a couple of minutes while being able to sit down and dive into your work.
I start each page with a short overview. I make sure the headlines read like a list of talking points. And if I make a bulleted list, I try to write a short summary sentence for each item and make it bold. The bold text and lists give people good places for their eyes to land as they skim.
Make your intentions clear⌗
I like to make clear distinctions between the pages where I’m thinking out loud, the ones where I’m wanting to share an idea and get feedback, and the ones where I’m making specific requirements for work.
If you’re in charge of coming up with the work for others, this will be important as it’s easy to confuse a brainstorming page with a requirements page. I’ve found it helpful to put a message first thing on brainstorming pages saying, “Please do not take any work requirements from this page.”
Make it about everything⌗
Anytime you share an idea in your company’s chat tool, try to move that into your writing space. Writing an idea in a Slack thread might feel like you’re sharing with others, but those messages scroll off the page never to be seen again.
Every Communication Should Have a URL has a good take on this that applies to outside communication.
Over time, you build up this collection of your thoughts, ideas, and opinions, and instead of writing messages in Slack, you’ll be able to paste a link to something you’ve worked on and thought through. It takes about a year to get to this point where you have a library of information I feel.
Make it easier to walk away⌗
You write to think, to share, and in many cases leave your work behind. Sometimes you have to pass a project off to someone else. Sometimes you take a new job internally and someone else takes your places. And sometimes you move to a different company.
If you write about everything, it makes any transition like this go much better. There’s no scramble to share knowledge or for someone else to try to get everything out of your head. They can read through your work on your own time, and you can sit down together and walk through your writings where they need more clarity.
Make it about creating a culture of sharing⌗
Knowledge is capital—you build it up, create expertise around it, and use it to leverage better jobs and more money. It’s hard to move into a mindset where you feel comfortable giving it all away. There are of course cases where you shouldn’t give something away, or you may not be in a place where you can give ideas away. But if you can there’s a different kind of capital you build up when you share everything you know.
People start going to you with questions or to discuss their ideas, not because you have all the answers, but because they see your process and evidence of getting to answers. And that practice is contagious—the more you share, the more others will share.