Accelerator Diaries: EduGrowth Week 15 – Working Smart

Launching a business is hard work. The old saying that ‘if it was easy, everyone would be doing it’ certainly rings true. Sitting down at my desk most days I’m usually greeted by a never-ending list of action items that I could devote my time to. Learning how to prioritise the most important tasks and remove everything that isn’t critical is a crucial skill for any entrepreneur looking to build a successful business without sacrificing their life.

Returning from America, Leo and I sat down to plan the next three months of the program. The key focus was to take care of business, whilst making sure we take care of ourselves. We didn’t want to lower our goals because we felt hitting them was essential to taking Upstart to where it needs to go.

Hitting those goals, whilst reducing the amount of time we spent at work comes down to being more efficient with how we use our time at work. The theme for this week was to cull all unnecessary tasks and focus hard on hitting our weekly goals.

What we learned

Since moving to Sydney Leo and I have been spending a lot of time at our offices in WeWork. (So much so that we’re on a first-name basis with most of the security staff and could probably audition for the national ping-pong team after spending countless hours on the table downstairs).

However, the downside of spending this much time at work is that the lines between our work and personal lives have become blurred. The lack of separation has impacted on our productivity through an interrupted workflow and divided attention. There is also a negative impact on our mood as at times it feels like we spend our whole lives at work, regularly putting in 7-day shifts over the last 6-months.

What’s changed for us

With the aim bringing a refreshed and positive mindset to our work in the future we decided to examine how we manage our time to achieve maximum efficiency. Here were some of our key changes:

Set simple weekly metrics

Having one or two measurable numbers to focus on each week will help us in prioritising our action items. By asking if the task is going to help contribute to achieving these goals we will know if it’s important or not.

Schedule meetings in blocks

A common disruption for Leo and I has come from allowing meetings to break our days apart. With time spent to travel and prepare for meetings eating into the rest of our calendar, we decided to try and schedule meetings in large blocks to leave plenty of time for uninterrupted work.

Take a day off

We knew that signing up for an accelerator was going to be hard work and we don’t want to shy away from that. However, we feel that at the very least one day off a week is required to avoid burning out.

Measure, review and refine.

Finally, we’ve decided we need a system for tracking what we’re doing and improving how we allocate our time. I’ve been using the Time Doctor app for a while now to track every second that I spend at my computer. The plan is to catch up every Friday to review what we’ve been doing and improve for the next week.


(My Time Doctor Dashboard for the week)

The plan for next week

One major positive benefit that comes from the realisation that you can’t everything yourself is the wonder of task delegation. Leo and I have been considering the idea of hiring some brand ambassadors to help market our service to students at Universities campuses around the country.
We’ve had hundreds of quality applicants come through and we’ve narrowed down to a few of the best. Next week we’re hoping to bring some of these students onboard to assist us in getting the word out.