My Personal User Manual
My professional path so far
At school, I particularly enjoyed maths and sciences. I decided to study medicine because it seemed like a way to do something good for society.
I studied in Cambridge for 6 years. While there, I dabbled in research and in programming. After qualifying, I worked part-time at a healthtech start-up alongside working as a doctor.
After my first few years as a doctor, I took time out to do a master’s degree in machine learning and work as a data scientist. I wanted to expand my skillset because (1) I really enjoyed maths and programming and (2) I wanted to scale my impact.
I’m now trying to use what I’ve learnt to build a company at the intersection of health and data.
How I like to work
I have a strong preference for long periods of undisrupted work (‘deep work’). Ideas stack on top of each other during these long periods in a way they don’t when I’m interrupted. These are the times when I most feel I’m learning and moving forward.
I try to group related tasks where possible to maximise the amount of deep work time I can carve out. I might batch two week’s worth of admin in one day. I check emails (and take action on them) once in the morning and once in the evening.
I like deep work time most in the mornings. I find this helps me build up my momentum for the day. If my days are looking full, I’ll sometimes wake up at 5.30am and use the early morning.
I love to work iteratively. Where possible, I do most work as slow burns, rather than heavy lifts. Then, I use my deep work time to finish things up. My mind works on ideas in the background - so I’ll alternate the next phase of a piece of work with ‘back of mind’ processing time.
How I approach meetings
I like meetings to have an agenda, so we can stay focussed and know whether we’ve met the goal.
I like to spend time thinking before the meeting - often more so than the meeting itself. I don’t want a meeting to have a sub-optimal outcome because somebody isn’t up-to-speed or hasn’t thought something through in advance.
I like ‘busy’ meetings and enjoy doing them back-to-back. But after many meetings, I like to switch it up and take a break. My comfortable limit is somewhere around two days of full back-to-back meetings.
My preferred meeting blocks are Tuesdays and Fridays 2.30pm-5.30pm (as of Feb 2022).
How to contact me
I’m contactable on several channels. In rough order of decreasing frequency, I check (as of Feb 2022):
- Signal / Telegram
(I want to use Signal more but don’t have that many friends there yet - if you’re a whatsapp user, consider the switch!)
In general, I’m fairly connected. But when things get busy, I may put messages to the side and batch-reply a few days later. Sometimes, I won’t reply to non-urgent messages for over a week - but I almost always go through and reply eventually.
I have occasional periods (a few hours to a day or two) where I can’t be contacted easily. My phone goes into airplane mode and email inbox goes unchecked. The trigger for this will vary; it may be that an idea has entered my head and I have a strong urge to explore it or that I’m feeling in need of some time away from tech and connectivity. I’ll try to schedule this time, but sometimes I’ll decide it in the moment - and will try to communicate this to team members as best as possible.
I’m a fan of voicenotes. If you have my number, feel free to message me that way.
Some insights from personality tests
I am an ENTP (although very nearly an ENTJ). I’ve seen this described as “the debater”, “the visionary”, “the innovator” and “the explorer”.
These descriptions are always written in a flattering way, but apparently:
No one loves the process of mental sparring more than the ENTP personality type, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points. ENTPs are the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see.
“They tend to reserve judgment. Instead of making a decision or committing to a course of action, they would prefer to wait and see what happens.”
“ENTPs are immensely curious and focused on understanding the world around them. They are constantly absorbing new information and ideas and quickly arriving at conclusions. They are able to understand new things quite quickly.”
“Routines and boredom are not good for the ENTP personality. They are non-conformists and do best in jobs when they can find excitement and express their creative freedom. ENTPs can be successful in a wide range of careers, as long as they do not feel hemmed in or bored.”
For what it’s worth, these points do seem to conform with my personal experiences.
In other words; I like to argue, sometimes I ask endless questions and I deliberately avoid conforming.
Principles I try to live by
How you do one thing is how you do everything.
A man grows tired by standing still.
Never assume that someone else’s motives are less honorable than your own.
A fun fact about me
I got married on Valentine’s Day (although we didn’t plan it that way - a story for another time…)
Sections I’m planning to write in future:
- What the current phase of my life is about
- My availability and working hours
- I’m most energised when…
- My energy goes down when…
- My feedback preferences
- My blindspots
- My preferences around socialising at work
- My hobbies outside work
- My roles and values
When writing this, I stole subheadings from the personal user manuals of: