<aside> 💡 This document describes our best practices for handing off work to yourself or others.


Handoff (video from Virtual Retreat)

Handoff (video from Virtual Retreat)

Handoff is a process of putting down work in order to be picked up by someone else you are working with or your future-self. The process provides the means to capture "open loops" that are burdening our mind, making us more focused, rested and productive. It's a powerful tool for fighting burnout and giving us a better work-life balance, while making sure the work will continue progressing.

🤔 What is a handoff and why does it matter?

In simplest terms, a handoff is the process of putting work down where it can be picked up by someone else (or your future self).

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We all have a lot on our minds on a daily basis, both work-related and personal. Our brains can only focus on a limited number of things at once. Trying to remember where we're at with too many tasks and conversations at once creates a build up of “open loops”—which makes it hard to focus properly on what's in front of us. It also makes it difficult to switch off at the end of the day.

For us to feel comfortable putting down our work at the end of a workday or work week, we need to close any "open loops" by putting this work somewhere where we feel comfortable and confident that it will be picked up and worked on at the right time.

<aside> 💡 Brains are for having ideas, not holding them.


Working longer hours to close open loops is not a solution. In a globally distributed company, new things will keep showing up and we'll be caught in a never ending game of whack-a-mole while working longer and longer hours to "finish" our to-do list. Which is extremely unhealthy, and usually makes us less productive.

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Besides actually finishing a task or closing a conversation, we can temporarily close an open loop by handing it off to a trusted system, confident that it will be picked up by the right person at the right time without you needing to worry about it. This might look like

🌐 Handing a customer conversation over to someone in a more westerly timezone as you sign off for the day.

👍 Handing a task to someone else, confident that they'll action it without being chased or coming back to you with questions.

📅 Assigning some work to yourself in a couple of weeks, and feeling confident you've included enough context that you can totally forget about it until you're automatically pinged in two weeks.

🦾 Types of handoff

Here are a few common types of handoff...