June 2015 by Florian Motlik

Stay Organized. Stay Productive. Stay on Top.

This is a guest post by Florian Motlik. Florian is the co-founder & CTO of Codeship, a fast and secure hosted Continuous Delivery platform that scales with the user's needs.

When you start a company as a technical co-­founder, your job is typically to code. You're working on the product all day, shipping one feature after the other. You focus on one piece at a time, often for a day or more. You've probably done this for years and have gained experience.

But as your company grows and your role turns into that of a manager, everything changes. You have to learn a new skill set. You need to be able to deal with dozens of tasks at the same time.
Getting organized, staying up-­to-­date on all your tasks, making sure you're not blocking anybody in your team ­­ - this is all paramount to success in your role and for your company. I've certainly struggled, and I've seen many other technical co-­founders struggle with these challenges. In fact, I'm still working on this transition.

Don't underestimate how hard this transition is. Make sure you invest early in making the change. Here are a few areas that commonly need improvement, along with my favorite tools for them:

  • Communication: This is the lifeblood of your work now. You need to stay on top of conversations internally and externally. Handling emails is especially important. Andi Klinger describes a system that has helped me tremendously.
  • Daily and weekly tasks: Sit down in the morning or beginning of the week to plan what you will be doing and accomplishing this day or week. This practice helps you make sure you're getting the most important tasks done. Wunderlist is my tool of choice.
  • What you've accomplished: When you're doing dozens of tasks at the same time, it can be hard to remember what you've accomplished. It's easy to feel unproductive, especially when you're accustomed to shipping code. It doesn't feel the same. iDoneThis is great for keeping track and sharing your results with your team.
  • Finances: Money is typically tight for startups. Stay on top of your finances by keeping detailed records of how much you spend where. This helps reduce the stress of sudden expenses. I've used Gnucash to track all of my finances for a couple of months, and it has made my life a lot easier and less stressful.

Make sure you find the areas in your life and work that need to be managed better. Improve them early, when the pain of the transition is relatively small and easy to handle. It improves your life, your happiness, your success - and ultimately the results of your company.