How to Spend Your Time When Working on a Startup

When working on a startup it always feels like there is so much to do and yet so little time to do it.

How is one supposed to decide what to do and determine if they should even be doing that thing in the first place?

I think there is an answer. There are three things you should be doing, and if you’re not doing one of them, you’re doing the wrong thing:

  1. Build product
  2. Talk to users
  3. Exercise

Obviously, these are general categories and there are definitely sub categories that could be defined within each of these. For example, competitive research + prototyping designs could fall in to “build product.” And a sales call could fall in to “talk to users.” And of course one needs to sleep, eat, socialize, spend time with family and loved ones and more. But I like these three things as a way to sanity check focus which is one of the most important things for a Startup. Focus is so important because it’s better to do one thing extremely well for a small group of users vs many things decently for more.

And the only way to do one thing extremely well for a small group of users is build the product then talk to that group of users before and after building the product to see how well (or how poorly) it is solving a problem for them. Then iterate on the product and continue to talk to users. The user owns the problem you own the solution and it’s your job to synthesize the two to make a good product. And lastly, exercise is an amplifier on both of these things. As a founder, you are the captain of the ship and the better shape you are in, the better mental clarity you have, and the more stamina you have, you’ll be able to build product and talk to users more efficiently and effectively. You’ll be able to do everything more effectively.

So ask yourself:

  1. Am I building product?
  2. Am I talking to users?
  3. Am I exercising?

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