“Days are long but the years are short” — Gretchen Rubin

Time flies. It has been two years since I wrote anything on Medium. I’ve started this post with a quote which pretty much sums it up. When your are in the middle of what ever it is that you do, it is easy to lose time. It is only at moments of reflection when you spot how much time has passed and how far you have travelled.

The last two years were hard. On the last day of 2016 we had the first close of our second fund (F2). It was the beginning of a fundamental change. F1 was an ~€8M vehicle with a mandate to only invest in entities based in Poland. F2 is currently at ~€24M and gives us a mandate to invest in B2B Software companies based in the European Union. Our potential dealflow grew by an order of magnitude. This meant more work and less time.

Fast forward to now. We are managing a portfolio of 35 companies across two funds. Our portfolio companies are based in different countries across Europe. The weight has shifted from sourcing companies to managing a portfolio of companies. Time management has become a challenge. How do you juggle between:

  • Email
  • Dealflow meetings
  • Portfolio updates
  • Events
  • Travel
  • Partner meetings
  • Research
  • and many other distractors

and stay efficient. I started asking my self which tasks are important and how to set the right priorities.

Talking to portfolio founders and other VCs who also struggle with time management inspired me to try something new. I’ve listed all the things I do every day:

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and I tried to organise them into blocks. For now I came up with the following “time allocations”:

  • Email — clearing my inbox
  • Portfolio — helping founders in our portfolio
  • Dealflow — evaluating opportunities in our pipeline
  • Research — trying to stay on top of things

In the next step, I tried to place these slots onto my calendar. What I ended up with is the following:

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My “working hours” or the time I spend in the office are between 10:00 and 16:00. The time outside of these hours is reserved for my family and personal development.

Currently I’m in a transition period. Some meetings are overlaping. This will fade in the coming weeks. The “routine” is as follows:

  • Monday is reserved for internal meetings around dealflow, portfolio.
  • Tuesday — Thursday follows a standard schedule of Email, Portfolio, Dealflow, Research.
  • Friday is left blocked for ad hoc meetings and tasks.

Based on this schedule each week I’m spending:

  • 5h clearing my inbox
  • 6h working with the portfolio
  • 3h evaluating investment opportunities
  • 3h researching trends and learning new things

I want to use this strict schedule as a framework for prioritising work. It will probably require me to say NO to many things and focus.

The plan is not ideal. It doesn’t include travel, events and other necessities of the VC business. Maybe it is the right time to review their importance and impact on the value of the portfolio. Only time will tell.

If you care to share your tips and tricks on time management, I’m happy to read your comments.

Written by

I’m a Partner at Innovation Nest, a seed VC fund focused on B2B Software. Helping SaaS founders with growth strategies and tactics.

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