The beginning of the entrepreneur series. Time diets and train riding


October 13th, 2022, posted in for_founders
by Andrei

I’m feeling heavy. It’s because I consume 60 hours of work each week. 


As a tech entrepreneur, I've been carrying this weight for a long time. I founded UPDIVISION in 2010 and went at it with the hunger of a penniless young student devouring a meal at the college canteen. 


And that enthusiasm paid off. The business grew, slowly nonetheless, but it grew! I never sat down to reflect deeply on how I was spending my time in the business. I tried all kinds of productivity hacks though. Packing my days with more and more tasks. In retrospect that might have been foolish. And I always had a nagging feeling that this is not how you go about scaling a business. But I didn’t know how to do it differently. So I persevered.


However, staying hungry and foolish never agreed with me. 


So for some time now, I’m trying to make sense of what I do. I think I’m feeling heavy not because I consume 60 hours of work each week. It’s because too many of those hours are empty hours. 


Hours spent on solving a myriad of operational problems. Being more reactive than proactive. And being reactive is a really draining and, frankly, a really boring thing. And I just don’t want to do it anymore.


But I quite don’t know how to do it differently either.


I have a plan though. 


It’s all based on a little theory I call train riding. We all ride different life trains whether we are aware of it or not. That mortgage you took is a train. It takes you in a certain direction and forces on you certain behaviours. There are high speed trains with fewer stops where you can get off. Like marriage, having children or choosing a career. And there are other, more relaxed, rides where you can easily jump off and board another train. For example, hiring a fitness coach, canceling your Netflix subscription or blocking out two hours of uninterrupted work in your calendar each day. These are all life trains that will take you somewhere - whether you like it or not. Once you’re boarding a train, you’re going.     


What I’m trying to say is that we don’t have unlimited flexibility to choose what to do and when to do it. Our previous decisions shape our current behaviour and what is available to us. For better or for worse, there’s a certain inertia in everyone's life. To make a lasting change you have to figure out first what train you are on and whether to get off of it. Then find another train to board, hopefully one that goes in the general direction of your goals.


So in order to solve my time dieting conundrum, I’m boarding a new train. I meet with a fellow entrepreneur friend each Thursday and write for three hours. I use these meetings to think and write about how I can make better use of my time (as an entrepreneur and as a human being). 


This accomplishes several things: (1) it gives me three hours of uninterrupted time to think about big picture, important problems that I always postpone; (2) it holds me accountable to this schedule, because I have to meet with a friend; (3) because I’m writing and discussing with a friend it makes the whole experience more enjoyable; (4) I’m putting everything into writing, so I end up having a clear plan of action; (5) I hope that publishing my ideas will help a few people along the way and in return I will get valuable new ideas from my readers.


As I think and write about these things, I will occasionally publish what I discover here. Hope you’ll come along for the ride.

About the author


It’s complicated. I started as an awarded copywriter and today I am the CEO of a software outsourcing company. I’ve built UPDIVISION to what it is today from scratch. Learning in the process how to hire, manage and promote the best people. How to develop excellent mobile and web software with distributed teams. And how to do business development and strategy. I hope to share some useful growth stories with you.

See more articles by Andrei