How I Am Optimizing In 2021

This is is part of my live-learning series! I will be updating this post as I continue through my journey. I apologize for any grammatical errors or incoherent thoughts. This is a practice to help me share things that are valuable without falling apart from the pressure of perfection. 

Email Filters

It’s been far too long I’ve left my email inboxes crowded with noise. Sometimes I hardly notice. But, as I cast a critical eye over distractions in 2020 it is clear there is a problem.

I’m now rigorously filtering out anything that I do not want to see. 

You have two options. If you are using Gmail, Google has added a great native unsubscribe option:

If that option doesn’t appear, you can easily filter emails from your inbox by selecting the three-dot icon menu above the email.

You can choose the sender and add conditional information like “Has the Words”.

Once you find the match, you have multiple options you can select on what to do with the email:

Typically, I am selecting “Skip the Inbox (Archive it)” and “Never mark it as important”.

This may seem small now, but over the year, I will avoid thousands of emails that can be distracting and unproductive. 

New Calendly Setup

This is a big one. For a while, I was always blocking my Calendly out because I was having people book meetings. A lot of the times that the meetings lacked a clear agenda and although my conversations are always enjoyable did not take either of us in the direction we needed.

I now have three options:

1. 30-Minute Consult ($150 CAD)

I am now charging for meetings and consults. I’ve spent a lot of years refining my knowledge and skillset and know I offer a lot of value. Time is money. 

Although it hurts to lose some of the enjoyable conversations I have got to have, I have a team of people to support, a lot of work to do, and my own personal goals to accomplish. 

I am capable of doing a lot with 30 minutes if I am focused. 

This setup will stop people from booking who don’t truly value me. It will also help me identify people with the resources and motivation that I am able to support and grow with. 

2. One-Hour Consult ($250 CAD)

This is basically the same but with an hour booked out for $250 CAD. I know I can deliver more value than that in an hour but I think this is a great starting point. I’ve asked some questions to help me prepare for the get together so that I can maximize the value and make sure whoever books feels the money was worth it many times over. 

3. Speak Ai Demo (Required Questions)

If you are interested in Speak, I am more than happy to do a demo for free. However, I have provided some required questions to ensure we are aligned and it is a valuable way to spend our time.  

I have now made some pretty significant adjustments here. I am no longer blocking out time like I was before. In fact, I’ve left the calendar open almost every day during the week from 9:00 AM outside of our Speak Ai team meetings.

The pandemic has shown me how much I enjoy my blocked out time. I cherish it a lot. I love connecting with people but I also need to double down and focus this year. This new Calendly setup has allowed me to do that.

Delete Apps And Block Phone Notifications

I can’t believe I did it but I deleted Twitter and Reddit off my phone.

A good friend of mine told me that you either “Create or Consume”. I am capable of creating with both these platforms and they are not all bad, but I hate typing on my phone and never create there. I only consume. That means that these applications are distractions on my phone.

On top of that, I had got in the habit of reading Twitter and Reddit in the morning when I wake up. That is playing Russian Roulette with your consciousness. Earlier this year, I saw some horrible videos and images on Twitter one morning that destroyed my mindset for several days. 

It is not good to start my days that way. Instead, I have removed these applications and am focusing on what matters: my meditation practice and my workout. 

I am now only capable of checking these applications on my desktop where I am much more likely to create.

I am also using the Digital Wellbeing settings on my Android to set limits on other applications. I’ve set timers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and will do my absolute best to not reset those timers. 

Earlier Wakeups 

In 2019, I was getting up every day around 6:30 AM. In late 2020, that dwindled to sometimes 8:00 AM. For me, that is too late. I like to be sitting on my computer and ready to go by 9:00 AM at the latest.

For me to take care of myself in the morning and accomplish that I need to wake up earlier. Currently, I have reset my alarm to 7:30 AM. I could go drastic and push it to the goal of 6:30 AM, but this about building sustainable habits. I will continue to push earlier as I get more comfortable.

Increased Transparency

I have always been pretty vulnerable and transparent. Our team at Speak Ai took some steps towards this with our quarterly reports and a public Indie Hackers page.

I want to continue that in 2021. We have strived to build a company we hope people can feel proud to support. When we share what we are doing and trying to achieve we have found people are there to help. I know I feel the same way when people share.

We have a lot of good stuff on the go. With the support of NRC-IRAP, we have actually been ramen-profitable towards the end of this year. 

That is our current focus right now and to remember that and to build transparency, we are building out a dashboard that shares our progress.

Here is an early screenshot of the dashboard that shows our expenses, what percentage of our expenses we have confirmed covered each month so far and the revenue we need to earn to be profitable:

We are working on some data inputs to sync this live at all times. This will be a powerful tool to help us grow. 

Some personal goals from our team OKRS:

– I’d love to have a large share of our revenue coming directly from software sales. 

– I’d like to have a talented full-time executive assistant. 

– I’d like to pay off all personally liable loans. 

– I’d like to land a $250,000 + grant. 

– I’d like to have $100,000 in salary by the end of the year deposited into my account.

– I’d like to have stability knowing that we have over a year of runway.

– I’d like to be able to get approved for a mortgage by the end of the year. 

– I want to have a talented full-time marketer on the team. 

– I want to be a profitable company. 

– I want Vatsal to have the team he wants/needs.

YouTube Lives

I have always created but often make excuses. I have had spurts of making video content, but I often get frustrated with the production time and lack of feedback.

In 2020, I played around with YouTube live a few times using OBS. Now, I have set myself up to do a YouTube live every day at 4:30 PM EST. 

I may go for 5 minutes. I may go for 30 minutes. I may go for an hour.

I’m setting this up through OBS and including Zoom so that people can join. We can have conversations, answer questions, solve problems collectively and more. 

I feel like it is important to carve out time like this and build out a space of creation. I will be able to repurpose this content. Over time, I will figure a lot of things out.

There is something about doing it live that actually excites me and that is important to build any habit. I am sure I’ll do lots of stupid things on here but it is an investment I am happy to make. 


Living in Toronto has been interesting. I am now out of the downtown core. There are more trees and nature around. But, it’s still not the same as London. I don’t have access to the beautiful farm I grew up on.


In 2019, with that nature out of my life, I realized just how important it is. This crystalized on a trip to Vancouver in 2020 where I was surrounded by lush greenery everywhere I went.

In 2021, I will find more time to spend in nature. My mom and her partner have just recently got a cottage up north. I cannot wait to spend some time up there. Nature heals. 

What are you optimizing?

These are just a few things that are top of mind for me. I will continue to add more to this.

I’d be very interested to know: what are you optimizing for 2021? 

Feel encouraged to send me a message on LinkedIn

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