"At that stage it was really just about staying on top of things and trying to keep up," the 33-year-old recalled. "But as my thinking evolved and my work evolved, I realized there was an opportunity to not just keep up but to actually be one step ahead."
The young consultant learned to love to-do lists, but after several years, realized they were mostly good for conquering trivial tasks. Now a design partner at GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet — formerly known as Google Ventures — Zeratsky focuses on the bigger picture.
"I'm not sitting there thinking…, 'Oh, I got an hour fee, what can I cram in here?' That's the type of situation I think that leads to the path of least resistance — going after the quick win, getting the dopamine hit of finishing that thing," he explained.
It's all about the one big thing
When Zeratsky plans his morning, he narrows down his might-do's to what he calls his "one big thing" and organizes his calendar around it. He said it gives him "a really close finish line" for completing the projects that bring personal value and satisfaction.
"One of the reasons I think this is such a powerful way to work is that it's much more obvious when you're done," he said. "I took a step toward something bigger that I was working on rather than just kind of scratching around the edges on whatever little tasks I could fit in."
At work, Zeratsky is busy helping startups improve their products, services and customer experiences. Between projects and meetings, he churns out articles for his newsletter "Time Dorks." He even co-authored a book. And while he gets a lot done, he insists he's not a multitasker.