How to visit friends and still do work (or not) (Week 6 as an entrepreneur)

Short blog today as I’m in the UK but that comes with it’s own challenges as an entrepreneur….


  • Meditation: 2/7
  • Exercise: 5/7 (Including 2 runs around Regents Park)
  • Code Written: Reasonable amount
  • Paying Customers: 0/$0
  • Pitches: 1 client, 0 VCs, 1 potential demoday
  • Time spent on YT/Video Games: 5 hours
  • Time spent on side projects: 0
  • Time spent reading: 3 hours

What went well (or badly):

Quick visit to the PM to advise about Brexit

This week I traveled to London to visit friends. It’s always nice to come back here, catch up and walk around the city. I think the city is more beautiful than New York (not to say NYC doesn’t have it’s charm of course) so it’s often lovely just to be around here. The downside of traveling though is the complete loss of routine, as you try to maximize the amount of time with people rather than how many lines of code you can write.

A great friend of mine has been an entrepreneur pretty much since we left University (pictured on the right looking happy with taking a selfie). I was always impressed with how much he was able to get done. He’d often come out for a night out, then proceed to go home, crank out a few hours work, have a small nap and then be up in time for the next day’s meetings. At the time I thought this was pretty impressive, but now, I can’t imagine being able to do that (after the amount we used to/Londoners still drink). This come with the conflict of ‘get as much done’ but also the importance of being able to wind down (especially before bed which I really struggle with).

I do feel that I haven’t been as productive here as I hoped, especially as next week I’ll be at home launching the beta of Merlin and hope to be working pretty hard during the day. However, it’s a new scenario for me, traveling while being an entrepreneur. It comes with its own distractions, tendencies and failures. I’ll need to try to overcome these as I push forward. After reading books like the 4 hour work week, I always imagined one day I might be traveling and working on something but I’d never realized how hard it would be to prioritize the work (hence the importance of automation and only needing to do 4 hours of emails!).

Having said the above, I think it’s important to give myself a bit of a break, and not be too hard on myself. Yes, I want to be productive, but it’s OK to not be churning out code in my little breaks here and there. I’m only in London twice a year, so I should enjoy my time here.

What I’ve learned

  • Have a full list of tasks (with time estimates): It was very easy to say ‘I only have an hour, none of my tasks could be done in that time’. As I’m seeing friends, these one-hour slots at the start or end of a day were all I really had and I didn’t take advantage of them. Having a list of shorter tasks could’ve ensured I was being productive in the occasional hour or two I got through the day.
  • Traveling and working is tougher than expected: Having the weekdays where I could do work helped but after too many drinks the night before and my lack of tolerance (I really did drink a lot more when I lived here). I will plan to achieve less work when traveling in the future and try to work out what small tasks I can do on the road rather than trying to get a new version of Merlin out between the booze.
Not sure why I’m the one on the other side of the table, guess it’s the same as an ocean normally?
  • I’ve missed my London friends: I moved to the US almost 4 years ago now, and with my green-card, I’ll probably be there for the foreseeable future. I often feel I miss London when it comes up in movies (although Hollywood seems to love blowing it up at the moment), but when I touch down I often feel — Yeah, this is London, I remember it, it’s OK. But the real part is hanging out with my friends here. I’ve definitely made some great friends in New York, but after 3 years of Uni and 5 years in London together — these are some of my best friends and can’t imagine a time they won’t be. Although of course being here now I also miss my friends and girlfriend back in New York too! Hoping with the Brexit that they move London to an island off the coast of Long Island to make it so they’re all in one place.

This week’s goals

  • (From last week) Add Unit Tests to my code for core functionality — 0% (Still failed/didn’t want to do this)
  • Add screenshot functionality to Merlin — 80%, took along time to get it to work properly (mainly because of Windows’ zooming issues).
  • Using the screenshots above I’ll be adding in the ‘fallback’ system which is if Merlin breaks, instead of it showing ‘Error’ — 0%, although I plan to spend all of tomorrow night on it.

Next week’s goals

  • Successfully Start the Beta — Deploy Merlin to production servers, setup onboarding flow (always weird to have an onboarding flow for an onboarding product!).
  • Finish adding in the screenshot fallback system (from last week)
  • Fix Beta Bugs — These should come quite a lot in the beta, so I plan to be trying to resolve these as quickly as possible. I feel that if you fix problems quickly, people are happier with the product and also more likely to give you more feedback knowing that it will actually get done.

Have a great week everyone, keep hustling and again any comments/suggestions appreciated!

Charles Douglas-Osborn

Founder of MerlinOnboarding