Next up in our series is Brad Feld, an entrepreneur and investor for over 20 years. Currently, Brad is a partner at Foundry Group, a Boulder-based VC firm that invests in early stage tech companies across the US. He’s also a co-founder of Techstars, has written several books, and blogs almost daily at Feld Thoughts. Impressed yet? In his free time, Brad runs marathons and spends time with his wife Amy. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Based off of Brad’s storied career and busy schedule, we thought he would know a thing or two about productivity. We sat down with Brad to find out about his email habits, how he stays focused, and the book that changed his life.
What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?
I wake up, brush my teeth, have a cup of coffee, and sit down with my computer wherever in the house Amy is. I do a pass through my email, read my “daily folder” (websites that I have in a folder in Chrome), and write a blog post. I usually go for a run most days. I try to protect my first three hours of the day so I have time for myself and Amy, rather than immediately diving into meetings and calls.
What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip?
Say no a lot. I say no 100+ times a day. I try to say yes too, but only to things I really want to do.
Any favorite tools?
Do you have a nightly routine?
Nothing special. I’m an early to bed person, typically winding down by 9pm with an occasional stretch to 10:30 or so. I’m quick to fall asleep and I try to go to bed at the same time as Amy.
“The biggest thing is resilience, and an understanding that a lifetime of success consists of overcoming many failures along the way.”
How often do you check your inbox?
Regularly throughout the day. I run on inbox “almost zero”, which means that I deal with everything as it comes in unless it requires more than 15 seconds – at which point I try to reply within 24 hours. Sometimes I get a few days behind and usually have a backlog of 50 to 100 emails at any given time, but I process these from the bottom up (FIFO – first in, first out), so that rarely happens.
What’s your #1 email tip?
Try to respond to email immediately.
Favorite SaneBox feature?
What’s the biggest hindrance to your productivity and how do you combat it?
Too many scheduled things. I used to schedule all phone calls, but I stopped a year ago and now have a phone list that I keep in Todoist and get to when I can. I also block multiple four-hour chunks per week on my calendar so I have time to work on things that require continuous focus. Also, I no longer take meetings or calls on weekends unless they are critical.
When you lose focus, what do you do to regain it?
Cancel a bunch of stuff in the future. My assistant and I have a weekly 30-minute meeting where we go through the next four weeks of my schedule and regularly decide what things NOT to do.
What have you learned from your failures?
Way more than I’ve learned from my successes. The biggest thing is resilience, and an understanding that a lifetime of success consists of overcoming many failures along the way.
“I love SaneBlackHole. Goodbye to everything I never want to see again!”
What bad advice do you hear often?
I hate the phrase “pattern matching.” And I think founders should look for “culture add”, not culture fit.
What book has changed your life and why?
“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Every founder, manager, and product person should read it slowly and savor it.
What’s the most worthwhile investment that you’ve made?
My relationship with my wife Amy, followed closely by my relationship with my partners at Foundry Group.
Want to become even more productive? Check out this Bonus Material: Productivity Tool Kit!