The age-old question for up-and-coming executives has always been, “how do I find more hours in the day?” The most successful people seem to find more than the 24 hours that the rest of us make do with – but First Light founder Austin Veith of Boulder Colorado has spent years creating time where it previously didn’t exist.
After founding and running multiple startups throughout his career, Austin Veith knows the value of time when it comes to building a company from the ground up. An admitted “productivity nut,” Austin Veith has a passion for “life hacks” around time efficiency and forming healthy habits.
“Building a company from scratch requires stretches of complete dedication and focus. 12-16 hour days (for months on end), 7-day work weeks, etc. This is just how it is, especially early on. It’s not easy,” he says. Austin Veith acknowledges that dedicating these kinds of hours isn’t as easy as it was in his 20’s. As a result, he has placed a higher value on productivity and time management to regain some balance between work and home life without affecting his output.
After living in New York City, Austin Veith was amazed at how much he accomplished while commuting via train; not having to drive himself and being able to work while he rode, added significant time back into his day. Once he returned to Denver, Austin found driving 30 minutes in each direction to his office to be a complete waste of time that could be otherwise spent building his company.
To address this, Austin decided to relocate closer to his office in order to reclaim that commute time. He found a house just a 10-minute walk through the park to his office. Instead of commuting in a car for an hour every day, Austin used the time walking through the park to catch up on calls and for a little extra exercise. He also made sure that his house was close to his other daily living needs, so that he could stop by on his walk home. By living on the same block as his bank, grocery store, and dry cleaner, Austin was able to eliminate useless drive time and restore a work-life balance to his everyday routine.
Getting to Know How Austin Veith Works
On a personal level, Austin Veith observed that indecisiveness about what to wear every morning and what to eat before each meal, consumed more time on a day-to-day basis than he wanted to admit. He found that meal-prepping for the work week and laying out his clothes the night before, eliminated a lot of wasted time on not-so-important decisions. And although many of us struggle to find the time to work out regularly, for Austin Veith working out has increased his productivity tenfold.
“Obviously, exercising has multiple benefits, but it has ALWAYS been a struggle for me. I get SO BORED when I’m working out. When I’m solely focused on exercise, even for just an hour, my brain feels neglected,” he says. “That being said, working out gives me way more energy, more focus, helps me sleep better, and makes me hungry. That last one might sound weird, but when your body is craving calories, the healthy food you prepared three days ago sounds really appetizing. When I don’t work out, my body starts to crave very specific (often unhealthy) foods that would take time out of my day, money out of my wallet, and achieve the opposite results of working out.”
Austin Veith’s obsession with time management extends beyond his personal need to meet all goals and move his startups forward. When hiring new talent, their ability to manage their time is one of the most important factors that Veith considers before bringing someone on to the team.
“Besides the basic skills related to a particular position, we have become very focused on how a team member manages their time and prioritizes their tasks at hand. This is in no small part due to our shift to the distributed workforce model that we implemented due to COVID and have maintained since.”
“In my opinion, in order for a distributed team to maintain high levels of productivity, each individual on that team must possess time management skills beyond what would be required in a traditional office environment.”
A candidate’s time management skills are also judged by if they possess certain personal characteristics that Veith has identified as must-haves. These include independent problem solving, self-accountability, and garnering high levels of self-satisfaction from task completion.
Despite Austin Veith’s success, he still falls into the trap of feeling like time is in short supply, just like the rest of us.
“Managing workflow is always a challenge. Like most people, I often feel overwhelmed and as though there aren’t enough hours in the day. I feel like increasing productivity is a constant struggle for me. I am always looking for ways to make the most of every workday and I sometimes feel like I fall short, but maybe that is part of the answer – trying to find ways to improve upon the processes and tools you use to manage workflow, is kind of the first step in being able to actually manage your workflow.”