Interview with Marin Gerov from DULO
Published 21. jun 2018 05:16
Who are you and what do you do for a living?
My name is Marin and I am a marketer, turned coder, turned entrepreneur. That's a very brief overview of my professional career of the past 8 or so years.
Originally from Bulgaria, today I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I work as a full-time developer at a tech startup and since September 2016, I have been building DULO - a company I co-founded with my long-time friend Julian, with the intention to create products, tools, and resources to fellow makers who value time and convenience.
Our first flagship product is a non-iron dress shirt from performance fabrics, made in Europe from high-quality, premium materials. As part of the brand and community building process around DULO, we have also started our own podcast, blog, and vlog series where we try to provide value to entrepreneurs and to encourage others to start their own businesses - and slay the 9-5 mindset!
What's your morning routine like?
I am a sucker for routines and my own goes like this. On weekdays I wake up before 5AM, these days naturally, without an alarm. I take the first 15 minutes of the day to prepare a cup of filter coffee. This is my most important morning ritual I believe. I take my time to boil water, hand-grind my beans, and brew the cup with an Aeropress. The whole process takes me about 10-15 minutes and by the time my cup of Joe is ready, I am already awake and ready to take on the day. Drinking the coffee is just the icing on the cake :)
After my coffee ritual, I do one of two things, depending on the day - I will either start working on DULO, taking care of important tasks like fulfilling orders and or correspondence. Or, if I feel that I need more time to get into the day, I read, mostly books (preferably on paper).
An hour or hour and a half after I wake up I start my training. Since the beginning of this year, I do a set of warm-up exercises, followed by 50 pushups and 50 squats. Four days of the week, I follow that with a proper training session that varies from calisthenics exercises, running, and weight training.
By 7 - 7:30 AM I am done with my sports and take a shower and get ready to go to work (my day job). I am fortunate to live in a bike-friendly city and I cycle to work for about 30 minutes every day.
That's a quick overview of my routine.
Side note: I plan my days in advance, the night before. I use a bullet journal system that helps me organize my work and keeps me accountable.
What's a typical day at work like for you?
Working on DULO for me includes funny hours - early mornings, late nights, the weekends. Using my Bullet Journal, I outline my most important tasks for the day and make sure I finish those in the time I have. It is a fine balance between a full-time job and your passion project, but I go all in when working on DULO.
Every day, my priority is to start with the most important tasks first. Those are the tasks that will move the needle forward the most. I try to avoid and bunch up correspondence into short windows, where I can sit for 10-15 minutes and write out my responses to incoming requests. If something is really urgent, such as a customer inquiry, I would attend to that immediately - customer service is the most important thing and it trumps all other tasks in terms of importance.
At DULO, my co-founder and I have a weekly schedule where we've outlined the different activities we need to do regularly, most of the time related to content production (shooting a vlog, writing, recording a podcast). Quite often, we have scheduled conference calls and recording sessions in the evenings, usually with fellow entrepreneurs or service providers.
Through all of this, Julian and I are constantly in contact. We are roommates, sharing the same house that serves as our fulfillment center and warehouse. Because of that, we always have discussions about the business and the things we are working on.
What do you do when you're not working?
I am quite curious and that is always driving me to learn new things. Now that I have DULO to build and grow, I like to dedicate most of time to it. It just happens naturally.
But when I have down time, and I try to actively schedule that, I like to meet friends and talk about topics around the business, or branding, or philosophy. I also like to read and watch the occasional TV show. I usually watch older stuff, because I don't feel I have the mental charge to get familiar with a new set of characters and circumstances.
I also like to nap a lot on off days :)
What do your office and desk look like?
I tend to work from different places - I need just my laptop. But recently, I made a dedicated work corner for myself in my room. Using an old small school desk and chair I have setup myself a tiny productivity corner where I have a recently upgraded Mac mini which I use for heavy duty production work.
What challenges do you often run into when you're working?
I feel that the biggest danger when running your own business is letting it take full control and space of your time. You can always do more. There is always something you can attend to, that will be asking for your attention.
I have found myself getting into this trap of getting too absorbed in the process. While it is great while you are in flow, I have setup a routine now where I like to end work on a high and go rest. On Saturdays, for example, I put an item in my agenda to just rest and do whatever I want.
Do you have any good productivity tips?
1) Sleep. Rest well. If you can, try to follow your natural rhythm. Go to bed earlier, wake up earlier.
2) Wake up early. Those quiet early hours of focussed work are a blessing that will put you ahead of the next guy or girl.
3) Plan ahead - planning my day in advance helps me to get going immediately the next day, without pondering on what to work on.
4) Have a checklist system of some sort - for me it works to have a traditional pen and paper checklist of todos that I go through.
5) Bullet Journal - this has been a game changer for me over the past two years and has helped me move forward better than any other productivity tool.
6) Physical training - work those muscles. Any type of physical activity puts me in a state of relaxation and recharging.
7) Walk - by far the most underestimated form of sports. I like to take walks to unwind at the end of a busy day, and usually those are times of reflection but also idea inspiration. I like to listen to a podcast or book while doing this.
8) Skip a meal / Fast - I have found that I get very sleepy after eating, so for me, it works to skip a meal if I am in flow and very productive. Don't take this as a medical or nutrition advice though, listen to your body first!
9) Bunch up smaller, less creative tasks together - e.g. phone calls, emails, etc.
10) Schedule your recurring tasks and write them down, so you don't skip them. Use a whiteboard. Works wonders.
What tools do you use at work to be productive?
My Bullet Journal is the most important productivity tool. In addition, I use Google Keep to write down thoughts and ideas when I am on the go and don't have my notebook at hand. Recently, I have been using on some occasions the new Google Tasks app, but it really is just a backup when I don't have my bullet journal. Google Calendar has been very useful when I plan podcast recordings and other events I plan to attend. There is a hidden setting there to enable a daily morning email that will send you an overview of your schedule for the day. It is a great way to quickly get informed.
On the email front, I use a service called Unroll.me which helps me filter out newsletters from my regular stream of email and bunches all of them in a digest that I receive once per day. It is quite the time saver because you can see all your promotional emails, visually, at a glance.
How do you get inspiration to get up in the morning and kick ass?
I don't need any inspiration to get up. This realization is all it takes to get me out of bed: I just know that time is a limited resource and every day is a blessing. I am extremely grateful that I have the life I have and work the work I have and it would be a shame to just lie down and let a moment go to waste.