Productivity Masterminds episode #11 – Manuel Bruschi
Our latest episode features a special interview with Timeular’s CEO, Manuel Bruschi.
Manuel founded Timeular in 2015 and led it to where it is today. He has been recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 and is also a former Austrian National Champion in Rugby 7’s!
Let’s hear more from him in this episode of Productivity Masterminds.
- Not sky’s the limit – time is the limit. Time is the most important thing we have in life. Everyone has it but nobody really knows it – we just spend it without really caring about it, but we should, as it is very limited.
- Tracker is like a physical handshake with your time. The main advantages of Tracker are that:
- it’s physical – you can touch it
- you have something that reminds you to take care of your time, to decide what you’re going to spend your time next on
- as soon as you flip it, you are committed to that task/project/action
- Tracker is like a physical agreement with your time
- you see exactly how much time you spend on each task/project/action
- Subjective impression ≠ objective impression of time. For example, if you are at university and there is a boring talk, it feels like an eternity, but then as soon as something is really exciting, one hour might feel like one minute. Our perception of time really gets distorted based on our emotions. That’s something we have to be aware of and that we can fix if we track the time.
- Find your biggest goal every day. Think about maybe two or three things that you actually want to tackle and then focus on that. Put off anything else that doesn’t align with that until later.
- Do the little things on Little-things-Monday. Batch those little things into a particular time block so they don’t interrupt your workflow. Manuel has the important things done in the morning and the little things in the evening and afternoon.
- In the end, it’s not time that counts. It’s energy. Block your time – do things that are important, like creative work, in the hours where your energy is on its highest level and make sure you don’t get distracted. After those hours you can do all the other things like meetings, calls, …
Juan: [00:52] Today we have a very special episode. We are talking to the CEO of Timeular, which is the startup behind the productivity masterminds podcast. Manuel thank you so much for coming on the show.
Manuel Bruschi: [01:32] I am very happy to do this.
Juan: [01:34] Manuel so you know something about time management that most of us don’t. Can you walk us a little bit through how you think about time?
Manuel Bruschi: [01:41] Well, I think the time is the most important thing in life because it’s something that everyone of us has, but we don’t really know it. So, um, we, we just spend it without really caring about it. Um, we, we think it’s unlimited, but it’s not in fact for many people obviously sky is the limit, but I say time is the limit.
Juan: [02:02] Wow. So what brought you to create Timeular in the first place? Obviously, you really care about the space.
Manuel Bruschi: [02:12] Yeah, I totally do because, uh, I worked as a freelancer. I was um, web developing and so I had multiple clients at the same time and I had to record the time just to bill them. And yeah, it was always a hustle and at the end of the week, I was like, hm, how many hours did I work for whom? And obviously I couldn’t recall all the hours and so I lost money because I couldn’t bill all of them and I tried like I think every solution out there and I really loved many of them because they had a pretty UI, are pretty simple to use – it’s just unlocking the phone and hitting one button but still I wasn’t doing it so I thought: hm why not? And then I thought yeah, because it’s not even instant and immediate enough. So I thought how, how can I make that happen? And the initial idea was some kind of buttons and then I came up with the idea of a cube and then I turned it in.
Juan: [03:09] That’s amazing. So you started with the idea of creating a physical product or did you want to create a digital product first and then move into the physical space?
Manuel Bruschi: [03:18] No, no. The idea was really to create something physical because I think that all the UIs solutions or software-based solution out there already got to the best point you can get. They made it already as effortless as possible, but still most people don’t use it and so I thought why not?
So I think you have to make it physical and tangible.
Juan: [03:48] And so you’re finding that by creating a physical product, people are being more aware of their time and they’re actually using the product and actually keeping themselves accountable to their time management as opposed to just forgetting about it or putting it off until later.
Manuel Bruschi: [04:01] Yeah, yeah, totally. It has basically the following advantages: So first of all, you have something there which reminds you to take care of your time, to decide what you’re going to spend your time next on and then as soon as you flip it, you’re, you’re really committed to that task, to that project, to that action, and it’s like a physical agreement or a handshake with your time.
Juan: [04:28] Right. That’s amazing. So Manuel, how do you think about prioritizing time, it’s not just about tracking your time, but then finding things that you think are actually worthwhile for you to do in that moment.
Manuel Bruschi: [04:40] Yeah, tracking without any action is not healthy. It’s just useless data that’s flying around so you always have to look at the data and try to find ways how to improve and that’s actually sometimes not simple, but I think most people already just by recording the time and seeing where it goes already realize that are, how do I say, or how we feel about time and how it really is.
So our subjective impression of time is different than the objective one.
So for example, if you are at university and there is a boring talk, it feels like an eternity, but then as soon as something is really exciting, one hour might feel like one minute and our perception of time really gets, gets, gets distorted based on our emotions and that’s something that we have to be aware of and that we can fix if we track the time.
Juan: [05:45] Do you have a framework, Manuel, for how you actually think about what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re working?
Manuel Bruschi: [05:52] Yeah, well I have, so obviously being CEO of a startup you have like a ton of things you can do and I have somehow to prioritize because the resources are very limited.
What I do is I always try to focus what’s currently the biggest goal and the biggest issue that we have and what are the three things I can do next to improve.
So I think focusing on one thing and improving step by step and saying no to many other things can really help to move forward.
Juan: [06:34] Okay. So you start by thinking what is the biggest goal that I’m going to do? You think about maybe two or three things that you actually want to tackle and then your full focus on that and then anything else that doesn’t align with that you, you just put off until later and maybe actually declined.
Manuel Bruschi: [06:49] Yeah. So, so the day for me looks like this. I wake up and I look at my huge to-do list and I think, okay, what are the next top three I have to do? Or maybe sometimes they are just two, sometimes they are four, but what are really the main things that I need to achieve today before everything else somehow matters. So, um, I, I write down those things and then I really block my time till 10:00, 11:00 AM. So because yeah, people have to know –
I get up at 6:00 sometimes at 5:00 AM and then I really block my time, my phone is switched off so I can’t really get interrupted by anything else.
And I really tried to tackle all those things, um, till that time and afterwards it’s just Syracuse. So people from everywhere asking things and whatever he needs something, she needs something, I need to do this, I need to make that call, that meeting and so on. But before it’s really calm, focused work.
Juan: [07:53] So it sounds like a big habit of batching your time is actually getting up early and then doing all of your creative work at the beginning of the day. And then you become available for all of the day to day messaging, right?
Manuel Bruschi: [08:08] Yeah. Yeah. More or less. Yeah, you’re right. I, I only try to do one more creative thing, um, after lunch because that helps me again to be, to get energized, so, like to have a break, a creative break.
Juan: [08:22] Sure. Okay. Do you find that you’ve done that on purpose? Have you always done that? Doing the creative work at the beginning and then batching it or is that kind of a new habit that you would recommend um, new people that, that have similar opportunities juggle to do?
Manuel Bruschi: [08:40] I’m doing this for a long time already. Um, but it started I think five years ago. So back then I was really struggling with getting university work and everything done at the same time. And then there were so many little things, so I was living in a flat with five people and I was taking care of all the bills and administrative things there. And so I had many things to take care of. So many little things and sooner or later I thought, how can I get, get, get some order in this chaos. So what I came up was the little-things-Monday. I called it like that so the little-things-Monday is like I, I tried to put all the little things that I have to do in that week, like going to that office to send over this form to request this and so on. So all those little annoying things. I batch them into Monday morning if possible. And I do them all and then I really have a great start into the week because I have the feeling I got already a ton of things done and out of my head. And so I really free up my mind. And so the rest of the week is like more focused work. Obviously, I can’t do this anymore now with the startup because you have so many little things that would be the little-things-week.
I tried to do it now the other way round to have the important things always done in the morning and all the little things always in the evening and afternoon.
Juan: [10:21] That’s amazing. So one thing that’s really interesting to me is you’re actually being intentional about batching your work at the beginning of the day. It used to be that you were able to do it at the beginning of the week and now you’re actually batching that sounds like a very important habit of yours is actually batching the word between creative and management, creative and management as opposed to just being available at all times, which is what a lot of us do and then you’re always reactive and you can never actually get into flow with work. Was that intentional? Did you – is that through a resource that maybe a book you read or a podcast you listened to that brought you to that realization? How did you learn how to do that?
Manuel Bruschi: [11:04] Obviously there are articles and books that talk about this stuff, but the idea really came from analyzing how I feel and how, how I can get productive. So yeah, it was all about that.
Juan: [11:19] So a big element for you has been self-awareness. Yeah. Actually auditing, so what you’re doing the, correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’re doing is actually energy management more than time management. You’re actually auditing how you feel about the things you’re doing.
Manuel Bruschi: [11:36] Yeah, totally. So that might be a bit ironic. So but what I think is that in the end, it’s not time that counts. It’s energy. So because you can spend five hours on one thing or you can spend one hour on one thing and I’m very likely the energy you’re going to put in it’s more or less the same. The amount of energy, the total one. Right? So, so for me is I, I know my highest level of energy is in the morning and most people at that time are still sleeping so I can use this advantage for me to like spend the most energy that I have so the most valuable energy that I have in the morning on the most important things and later on when I am not that energized anymore, I can spend it on managing things. Then I have lunch or a break and afterwards I am again more energized and recharged a bit and then I can do creative stuff again.
Juan: [12:45] That’s amazing. So there you have it. Manuel’s habits for success and time management are really around batching and prioritizing what is helpful and what is not. He starts by prioritizing what is the biggest goal that we’re currently working on and either he does it or he doesn’t. There is no mediocrity. Either we realized that this is an important thing that we’re going to do or we don’t, and he gets up early and starts doing creative work first before becoming available for messaging throughout the day. He started by doing this by doing what he calls little-things-Monday, which is batching all of the errands that he was going to do throughout the week, into Monday morning, but is now actually doing this early in the day every day of all of the errands that need to get done into his creative time, which is in the morning. He’s more about energy management than time management, and so what this allows him to do is be very intentional about how he spends his time on activities that are very creative and time consuming in the morning and energy consuming in the morning as opposed to doing them later on in the day where he is available for bigger opportunities and other things where the day may take them. Manuel, as you continue to grow and move your career forward, where’s the best place for people to stay in touch with you?
Manuel Bruschi: [14:02] I think the best thing is on my email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juan: [14:09] Okay, perfect. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Manuel Bruschi: [14:12] Yeah. Thank you for having me and I hope to talk to you again.