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Alexandru Trandafir
Alexandru Trandafir

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What's up with Alex (me) november 2019

Introduction

I am on a 2 year journey to change my environment & habits & follow my intuition and see where it takes me. This is the post #2 after second month.

It is part of a series of posts I'm writing monthly since I moved from Barcelona and contains a mix of professional / tech & personal life stories.

You can read the first one here.

This one is coming late already! And I'm still trying to figure out the best way to write it and hope to improve in time as I get more skilled & also my life story gets more interesting. ;-)

I even got a new domain name & I'm planning to set up the blog there, let's see how that turns out.

Building a Saas product

One of my main long term goals is to build a product & not long ago I've started to work on https://portfolee.app/ and I wish I could talk here about all the amazing progress I have done in the past month but instead I will confess I haven't managed to build a good habit around it yet so I've done little to no progress in the past weeks.

I guess all the daily responsibilities have eaten up all my energy & I had none left for it, or maybe it is just an excuse and I really need to prioritize & focus harder.

Either way I'm still excited & with tons of ideas regarding all the product building process & experience and that's good.

UPDATE: At the time I was writing this post, I just got enrolled into Happy Startup School's 2020 Vision program and I will be participating on it starting at the end of January during 20 weeks and I will work on pushing the product forward & at the same time do it in a way it benefits the service business.

Business status

At our software development agency HeavyDots we've had a pretty good month!

We've got a good lead flow coming in with all sorts of projects and we finally managed to close a couple of great leads we've been after in the past months and that really feels great and that's thanks to the team efforts & to the people who put their trust in us or recommend us.

I've personally been busy with 3 projects.

One is the custom accounting software we're building for a client for a long term now, that is not the sexiest project to work on but brings a lot of interesting challenges.

Second, is a job board in aviation industry that looks like after long time we are finally getting pretty close to a launch date and I can't be more happy about that & guess the client too.

Third was a 40 hour prototype that we've had to build in order to close one of the deals we were negotiating for a Saas in the car buy-sale legal process in Spain. It was a success & really looking forward to develop the full product in the following months.

Last but not least, it is cool to see secondary side-projects where we invested time in the past still bringing few conversions. Two years ago we've written an ebook about integrating the Spanish SII invoice sending web service, and even if it's a nasty subject and the market is very small for it (limited number of developers), even so, we're still getting about 1 purchase per month and it feels good to see that we've been able to identity a pain & bring some value.

Learning to balance work on multiple projects

When I work on a project I normally like to focus only on that for very long hours, as if I were on a hackathon.

Actually I have built many projects like that, for example another of my side projects's MVP has been built in about one weekend. It's a platform for storing & sharing personal pictures.

So I use to work that way because of two reasons very closely related one to another:

  1. You can make HUGE progress on a project if you have a non-interrupted time span of about 8 hours of more, I would say I can deliver one "normal" week's work in a single day
  2. After spending lots of non interrupted hours on the same thing your mind creates a very clear image of how that thing should be and that is somehow a state of mind that is not very easy to reach if you're just dedicating one hour now and another tomorrow

I mean I guess lots of artists & creatives also do it, and I think it is because somehow you reach a deep connection with your creativity and boosts both your understanding & performance.

So what happend lately is that I've also identified some pains regarding that method of work:

  • It can get you disconnected from coworkers & social life if you only work that way
  • If you have not one, but 2-4 projects you need to make progress on, it is very hard to find balance because you end up starting your week focusing on one and by the end of the week you realize you made huge progress on it, but NO progress on the rest of the projects
  • And sometimes even if you made that HUGE progress & that's great, some projects are very big will probably never end too soon in order for you to move to another thing

So I'm trying to find some balance now and the method I'm currently using is to try to split my day on 2-3 projects based on importance and in the past weeks I have managed to make progress on multiple things.

I have also noted that it is way easier to do that if you try to break the project into smaller chunks and focus on the "next task" and also keeping comments at hand about what you did last time creates a pattern on your mind that makes it easier to continue next time.

Sadly I haven't managed to work on the product as I wasn't sure I was being able to take in one more project. Even this blog post was very delayed because of the same reason. But hey the post is here turning out & I hope the product will have the same fate.

Would be great to hear in the comments regarding your experience on finding balance to work constantly on multiple projects.

From afternoon schedule to mornings

I have spent a few weeks working from about 12pm to 2pm then from 4pm to 9pm and then from 10pm to 00, I did that extra hour just to make sure all the projects on my table had the chance to get some progress.

But since I'm quite bad at having a fixed schedule I ended up going to bed very late and it wasn't manageable anymore, so I'm coming back to morning schedule, and it feels a little bit more natural now.

Currently is 7-9am, then 10am-1pm and then 3pm-6pm and looks like it is turning out good. Let's see for how long I can stick with it.

I love to be social & interact with friends & coworkers but I'm also a results oriented person & I really love to spend time in silence & make progress on a project. So either late in the afternoon or early in the morning I really value those "mine" moments.

And for those of you who know me a little bit you know how easy it is for me to get distracted and carried away, haha, so silent non-interrupted moments really keep me on track.

Staying sane & healthy

I really realized I'm the kind of person that finds life "hard".

For me it really doesn't matter if I have to develop a complex piece of software or just do some home-related task as cooking, cleaning, you name it, I somehow feel it is the same challenge, to get yourself together and do it.

And among the things that really affect my mood are food & weather. If it's a shitty day outside & I haven't got any food prepared the previous day, and not even think or plan for it, I can say it can definetly be a doomed day.

But anyway, I think it has to do with better habits. Planning my meal in advance & making sure I also exercise a little bit, can solve both issues. So yeah, food + exercise + weather is a combination that needs constant attention.

Another thing that keeps me sane & I am very grateful for, is having someone around to talk, be it a close friend, family, neighbours.. to chat, do something together, play some videogame.

And let's not forget about nature, as it is amazing how much can a walk outside can help our mind relax and disconnect and get ready for the next challenge.

Planning for the future?

I always struggle with making plans for the future as I've got about 10 Trello boards & 5 Mindmups where I try to organize all my ideas and based on that I try to take some decisions regarding what's important for me to do right now & in the following months.

But I guess there's no easy way to go about it, a long term vision is hard to build if you've got lots of ideas, and even if you do, life can still surprise you with something unexpected.

Link to next post in this series

https://dev.to/atrandafir/what-s-up-with-alex-me-december-2019-2a8n

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