I spent much of 2014 doing. Doing meetings, doing deals, selling entrepreneurs, negotiating terms. As a former business development guy who thrives on “the deal”, I get a lot of satisfaction from the chase and naturally gravitate in that direction. That type of work, though, is mostly outbound and I’ve discovered that too much of it leads to me feeling out of balance. I also helped design products in my former life as an entrepreneur and product design requires inward-facing creativity and strategic planning, a very different type of workflow. So, as I begin 2015, I’ve set a few goals towards recalibrating how I spend my time.
More reading: Towards the end of 2014, I revamped my news ingestion system. I’ve been managing rss feeds via FeedBin for the past few years and now use Reeder (iOS) and Press (Android) for reading. The number of feeds I try to read continues to feel overwhelming so I plan to increase the amount of time devoted each week to reading. In addition to reading for business, I plan to increase reading for pleasure as well. I’ve historically been a vacation reader, often devouring 2-3 books during a weeklong trip, but struggled to finish books during other times of the year. I got halfway through The Emperor of All Maladies on our most recent holiday - a book I highly recommend - and am going to try to finish a book every 6-8 weeks outside of vacation reading.
More writing: In the fall, I relaunched this blog in an effort to recommit myself to writing. I’m published several pieces since then, but I plan to increase the volume this year. I find that the process of thinking through concepts by putting pen to paper is extraordinarily helpful towards crystallizing my thoughts. It’s also a creative outlet that feels good so I plan to do more of it. My high level goal is 6-8 short pieces per month and 1-2 long form pieces.
Personal doodling / Better utilization of data: Some of the most interesting companies we are involved with today - and many more that I’ve met - happened as a result of a weekly exercise I call “the personal doodle”. This is scheduled unstructured time each week to surf the internet and see what I find. As my schedule filled up in the second half of the year, I found myself doing less of this and I missed it so I’ve carved out 90 mins each week to make sure this happens. I also plan to use data better to inform my doodling and influence where I spend my time on the web.
More financial analysis: It turns out that the former banker in me still enjoys building models and a bit of financial rigor. I dusted off my excel formulas last year and want to do more financial analysis in 2015. In addition to company-specific analysis, I want to direct more of this work to studying sectors, analyzing business models and assembling comps. I plan to use some of this data in my writing.
Less meetings: This may seem counter-intuitive for a VC, but I plan to take less meetings in 2015, for all the reasons I mentioned above. I took a lot of meetings as favors to friends in 2015. While it’s always fun to meet with an entrepreneur and talk through a business model, too many meetings leads to less time for other stuff. I am going to do my best to apply a more stringent filter on which inbound meetings I take in 2015. If you’re one of the meetings I decide not to take, please don’t take it personally.
Less email: Email is a necessary evil, but also feels amazingly unrewarding. I plan to sequester my emailing as much as possible to twice per day - morning and late afternoon. My friend and former colleague Yaron taught me one of the most valuable lessons about email: keeping inbox zero or feeling pressure to reply to every message is akin to letting other people manage your two-do list. A big no-no.
More music: Those who know me well know that I’m a big fan of music - both live and recorded. In my younger years, I saw 2+ shows each week. In 2014, my rate of attendance at local shows fell to an all-time low and I’m aiming to correct that. I’m not too old yet to continue enjoying music so plan to listen to more during the day and see more shows at night.