Know anyone who’s both a certified Metaverse Expert and a HR Hot Lister? Melissa Crawford’s recent accolades shout her unique expertise: ushering leaders round the next corner, to reveal their teams of the future. So how does she see time?
From her early career in tech, Melissa’s grown her passions and skills through program management, talent development and organisational psychology, completing a Masters of Technological Futures along the way. Melissa blends her love of technology and people as the Director of Tech With Heart, a consultancy helping executives and teams to embrace the future of work with kindness and empathy.
Across her weeks, you’ll find her coaching, facilitating workshops, or delivering keynote speeches on topics ranging from phycological safety in the workplace, building a future-fit team, and what the metaverse can teach us about human interaction.
The future of work is, of course, about more than work. Increasingly, leaders are recognising the businesses benefits of empowering their employees to negotiate their work/life boundary according to their needs.
And as deeply as Melissa cares about her work mission, she values all her roles in life.
“I am very good at making time for life.”
She’s daughter to an “incredible, vivacious 80 year-old”, number five of six siblings, and mum to two rescue cats (“furkids”). Melissa’s grateful for her “wonderful, supportive husband”, and carries the responsibility of financial breadwinner for their household.
Valuing learning and kindness, she’s also driven to give back. Melissa is a volunteer mentor, and advisory board member for two universities, a tech unicorn in the US and the World Metaverse Council.
Getting it done, being human
Describing herself as “a bit of a planning nerd”, Melissa draws her daily and weekly tasks from her annual, monthly and weekly goal lists. She’s committed to moving her business forward in some way each day, and loves the satisfaction of ticking off her to-do list. Well-aware of human needs, she puts aside time for thinking and learning, as well as days focussed on personal connection.
Since launching Tech With Heart in 2022, she’s had to be more conscious of the amount of time she spends working.
“I have always found it hard to stop when I’m in flow, as that’s when I’m loving what I’m doing and it doesn’t feel like work. Now that I’m running my own company I’m more in flow than ever, so I have to be extra careful not to burn myself out.“
Still, her schedule helps to ensure those non-life priorities don’t slip too far. Melissa books re-occurring phone and in-person catch-ups with local and distant friends, and plans comedy shows and outings with her husband in the evenings and on weekends; “we always have something to look forward to and connect with.” She keeps her weekends strictly work-free.
Owning her time
Another time choice that pays dividends is limiting her time to social media, and avoiding it all together in the mornings. This has helped mitigate getting “sucked up into the social media vortex… I can lose a ridiculous amount of time and not feel very good at the end of it.” She’s found social media can impact her mood and productivity long into the day. Now, she’s swapped her newsfeed for the pile of books she’s been “desperate to read”.
What piece of generic time management advice has never worked for her?
“Blocking out time in your calendar at work for key tasks. I definitely get the idea of this, and a lot of practitioners teach this, but when I was managing large teams it was a barrier. People would look at my calendar and see that I was unavailable for weeks.
It was my job to be there for them.“
Instead, Melissa opts to keep her calendar transparent, only adding true meetings to her calendar. She’s found team policies like meeting-free Friday have helped everyone enjoy longer stretches of time for deep work and meaningful connection.
This is a great demonstration that effective time management can never be a one-size-fits-all system; our time choices are individual and dynamic.
Impactful workplace time norms
Melissa’s experienced workplaces where time norms get in the way of team performance, “where it wasn’t cool to start after the boss or leave before the boss, and lunch breaks were frowned upon”.
“It’s amazing how an unspoken culture and years of indoctrination can impact you. For example, where you feel guilty if you leave early, even though you worked all weekend… They are indications you don’t feel psychologically safe.“
We know psychological safety is the top indicator of team effectiveness (at Google and likely elsewhere). Time autonomy comes down to trust, and Melissa’s thrived in outcome-focussed organisations, “where time is a non-factor”.
Learn and keep learning
And if you’re curious to learn more about future technology today, check out Melissa’s introduction course, de-mystifying tech from AI to drones.