Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Story 3: Time Management Going Out The Window

If you’ve read my Story 1, you know that I’ve been out and about on my own.

In this post, I want to confess and discuss time management when we are embarking on a solo career.

I must admit that I am not the most focused person in the world. In fact, I am probably one of more defocused people you’ll ever meet. It has been a struggle for me for my entire life. You would not believe how many teachers pointed this out to me from the first grade, but somehow I’ve managed to focus in a “regular job” capacity as a productive member of society.

After I left my job to start up this new company, though, I did not realize how easy it would be for all of my hard-earned time management skills to get completely thrown out the window.

These days a lot of people are working from home, but that really doesn't count if you’re still part of a company's “working machinery.” When I had a “regular job” my calendars were usually filled from 6 AM Pacific to close to noon at least 3 days a week for various customer meetings, which I sometimes attended from home.

So my day started off by dashing out to the beach at 6, catching waves at 7, changing in the parking lot and then driving to work for the first telecom of the day, or more often than not, I'd make the first call while driving, and often would still be on the same call after arriving at the office. The calendaring function on my mobile was constantly busy as I'd fill up my slots, while others would be “penciling in” on my shared calendar at the same time. I functioned like this for years.

Now I’m on my own. There are few external events driving my calendar, and that’s the most significant change. I must be proactive and it’s a challenge.

For the next year to 18 months or so, I will be in the center of my own world, where I'll need to be focused on developing our new product and actively seeking potential deals that will “buy” our vision.

Now I must drive my own calendar.

I still wake up at around 5:30 AM or 6:00 AM. I do not have to set an alarm since I naturally wake up when the outside is light enough. Surfing will do that to you.

But do I go surfing right away? No, because I think, “If I go out now, I'll run into the pre-commute crowd. I’ll go at 9:00.” So then I check email and Facebook to see if there is something that might be worthwhile. One topic and link leads to another and I’m reading everything from ViralNova to MSDN to WSJ.

So far, I’ve wasted about 3 hours on that and it's already 8:30.

One thing leading to another, it is already 4:30 PM, and I have not even edited a line of code, and let alone caught any wave. Another day evaporated into the infinite universe...

So what’s wrong with this picture?

If this is someone else's post, I would be the first one to accuse that person (yes, I will blog about this later) of poor time management techniques, and that’s exactly what this is. The problem is that it is very easy and even comfortable to lose that control.

So now it’s time to make some changes and stick to a concrete, focused schedule.

I am not going to check email or Facebook when I get up and I'll go straight to surfing regardless if there are any waves or not. If there are no good waves, I will do some yoga on the beach.

When I get home, I’ll allocate each hour for a specific task and won’t do anything else.
In fact, I did buy a 1-hour sand-clock for this purpose. Now I will put it to use with this kind of schedule: 9-10 coding, 10-11 networking calls, 11-11:30 online networking or blogging.

Lessons Learned

  • It is very important to have some discipline to be a startup person! That includes time management, diet management and regular exercise.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Once you start something, stay focused on that activity. That means do not open email. Turn off email alerts, etc., and put your distracting devices away.