Jake Mendelson is Director of Sales at Brightflag, an AI legaltech company based in Dublin. He also surfs and plays on his local soccer team, Ear Inn.
On quiz results
My quiz result was Precrastinator, which seems fairly accurate. I manage a large team across multiple time-zones, so it’s imperative for me to prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. I’ve also learned the hard lessons of burn-out. This has forced me to schedule breaks throughout a workday (made much easier by working at home).
Bigger projects with lengthier due dates allow me to think critically about them (when I make the time for them). However, there are many areas of my job where I have to accomplish tasks immediately, prioritized by importance.
On serious matters, I would say my work mindset of precrastination takes hold. I make pros and cons lists, think critically and speak with trusted friends/mentors/advisors before making an important life or financial decision.
On deliberately making time for deep work
I’d argue that taking the time to get good outcomes is a problem for everyone at a startup. One way that my company has alleviated this problem is by making every Wednesday a no-meeting day so employees can accomplish deep work. This has made a difference in getting the necessary time to think critically and creatively on big projects.
When it comes to relationships, I’m more of a procrastinator. I tend to live more in-the-moment, especially when it comes to planning vacations or trips. It’s something I’ve been working on.
I’m also more of a procrastinator when it comes to health. I’m forgetful about doctor and dentist visits as I feel healthy from my active lifestyle. Even in that lifestyle, it is not one of immense planning.
On less serious matters, I’d say I’m more of a procrastinator than a precrastinator. I tend to wait until the weekend until I’ve planned what to do (unless I plan to surf). I’ll spend 30-45 minutes thinking about what to do with a Saturday after waking up on one. I don’t plan what books I want to read, but simply choose a new one when it’s time to pick.
On avoiding haste, to a point
I’m circumspect about my life decisions – nothing is done hastily. In terms of work, it allows me to be pragmatic and move quickly, but not hastily. In the frenetic environment of start-ups, this has served me well.
On the flip side, at times I take too long to make a decision (weighing pros and cons) instead of just acting when I have 70% of the needed information.
When doing too much has gotten in the way
I’ve experienced burnout with work in the past, and at times, I’ve prioritized “doing” over “thinking.” It’s something I’ve been keen to course-correct.
Knowing how to prioritize, and working hard for achievements
I tended to procrastinate in school, but when pushed I had an ability to intensely focus on a task and produce. I think this has transferred to my ability to be comfortable in intense startup environments. I’ve always enjoyed pressure-cooker situations in life, work, and school. This makes sense with the quiz results pointing out the ability to prioritize quickly according to urgency and importance.
I stayed up for 48 hours straight in the library finishing my History Thesis at Lewis and Clark. I smelled pretty terrible when I handed it in and was told by Professor Beckham to “go rest and take a shower.” However, it was one of my proudest achievements, a historical materials study into the Nurenmberg trial of Hermann Goring.
Deep breaths, long walks, and other tips for preinclination
At work, I take time for deep breaths and breaks throughout the day, like reading for five to ten minutes or doing a quick workout. When I have more time, I like to take long walks or bike rides without my phone. I also find that reading complex fiction (Helen Dewitt, Don Delillo, Denis Johnson, etc.) forces me out of my comfort zone and assists with creativity.
I couldn’t live without my weekly calendar notebook. I’m able to plan every day’s tasks in writing. Once completed, I cross out the task.
For me, being preinclined means living in the moment (life’s short!), but having foresight into what is and will be important in my life and work.