My best (and worst) strategies for dealing with high-demand work

Michael Schmid - @Schnitzel -

About Me


About me

  1. Apprenticeship in IT in Switzerland
    Learned what "work" really means
  2. First Lieutenant Swiss Air Force
    Learned what it means to lead people
  3. CTO Amazee Group
    Still learning :)

CTO Amazee Group

  1. Board Member Amazee + Amazee subsidaries
    Steering, big questions
  2. CTO Group
    Security, IT, Strategy, etc.
  3. CTO & + Mgmt
    System Engineering, Architect, Leadership


  1. Things that work for me might not work for you
  2. Things that might work now won't work in 1 year
  3. I really love my job and I'm aware that this is a huge privilege

“The only constant in life is change”


"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."

- Henry Ford

A "normal" day

The day starts with the evening before

  • Check calendar before going to bed
    Understand what tomorrow will bring
  • Alarm: 1h before first meeting (30mins in extreme cases)
    Give me some time to get ready
  • Prepare clothes


Falling asleep

  • Relax with controlled breathing
    • Feel your pulse
    • 4 pulses breath in through nose
    • 7 pulses hold your breath
    • 8 pulses breath out through mouth
  • Fall asleep
    • Count from 100 down


  • Phone on silent:
    • Notifications turned off in Phone & Slack
    • Phone calls only (Pagerduty and Family)
  • 6 hour minimum (less doesn't work)
    • Usually 7h
    • Weekends 8-9h

A "normal" day II

Wake Up Routine

  • Every day the same:
    • Snooze alarm
    • Read some light twitter
    • NO Slack, NO E-Mails
    • Get Up, Shower
    • Feed Dog
    • Make Coffee
    • Open Notebook: Welcome Work
  • Breakfast
    • Can't go without, but no real time
    • Alternative: Soylent


Let your calendar rule your life

  • Use it like your assistant, want something from me? Ask the calendar
  • (or similar) for external requests
  • Block off time if you need focus time

Add little breaks

  • 5min breaks in between meetings
    Short rewards:
    • Watch a YouTube Video
    • Make a coffee
    • Play with the dog
  • Forced getting up:
    • Drink a lot of water, will happen by itself :)
  • 30min-45min breaks for Lunch
    Bigger reward:
    • 30min YouTube Video, TV Series, etc.
    • Eat lunch with Family, Go out with Dog, etc.


  • Music
    • Pretty much all day long
    • Comfy Headphones with Noise Cancelling
    • Different music playlists
      • Liked Songs - regular work
      • Motivational music - if you feel down
      • Spotify suggestions - new music
      • Instrumental only - writing



  • Luxafor
    • small color indicator
    • RED: Talk to me via chat
    • YELLOW: busy
    • GREEN/Off: not busy



  • No notifications for e-mails
    • Nothing has been that important that it couldn't wait an hour
    • Urgent stuff happens via Slack & Pagerduty
  • Check emails in between meetings
    • Mark each one as read that you read
    • Follow up right away if you have time
    • Snooze if no time
  • Separate Private from Company E-Mail
  • Trying Inbox Zero every couple of months and failing 🤪


  • Be strict with notifications in Slack
  • Most channels mention only
  • A few important ones notifications for everything
  • Disable Thread Notifications if not needed anymore
  • Group channels by importance
    • Read all the time (customer and internal)
    • Important Internal (Read if you have time)
    • Important Customer (Read if you have time)
    • Others (read if you are bored)
  • Use Slackbot remind like with emails

iMessages, Whatsapp, etc.

  • Mute during the day as much as possible

100% Focus

  • turn off everything
  • only reachable via PagerDuty



  • Choose a specific time you will remember:
    • Shower on Saturday
    • Lunch on Friday
    • Workout on Sunday
  • Ask yourself:
    1. Did the positive things out-way the negative things?
      No week will ever be perfect
    2. Did I succeed in changing the last weeks goal?
      Decide if you want a new goal or the same one
    3. What will I change for next week
      Choose something tiny & small!

Thank you!

My best (and worst) strategies for dealing with high-demand work

By Michael Schmid

My best (and worst) strategies for dealing with high-demand work

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