Stop Wasting Time Doing Meaningless Work
Every entrepreneur wishes (s)he had more time — to get more stuff done, to think, or just to relax and not work. We have more ideas and to-dos than we have time or hands to even do all the stuff supplied by our minds.
Since we are still limited (for now) to only 24 hours per day each, we need a better tactic than to merely wish for more time. My suggestion is we look at the equation from the other end of things, see where we’ve been investing time unwisely, and how we can fix it.
The truth is, if you’re human, you waste a lot of time every day in places where time doesn’t have to get wasted. And you want to fix it. But it’s not just a matter of yelling don’t waste time!! at yourself and somehow doing everything faster. Those may be the byproducts of the strategies I’m about to share with you, but they’re not the action plans themselves.
Here are four strategies for you to employ in shaving the wasted time off of your schedule, freeing more of your most precious resource for whatever you want to do with it.
Give Yourself Deadlines
In school, teachers hand out assignments with with due dates, and there are penalties attached to missing them. At work, bosses do the same. You parents may have utilized similar tactics on your as a child.
And, if you had any respect for (the authority of) your teacher, boss or parent, you got done what needed to be done. Maybe you really wanted to do it, maybe not — but that deadline was real enough to move you to action either way.
The simple tool for making better use of your own time is to use deadlines on yourself the same way those in authority did and have done with you. Schedule yourself to be in and out of the gym at specific times, even on your non-work days. If you freelance, this means you start and (maybe) stop working at a specific time every business day.
If you’re writing a book, creating a new course, or handling your overflowing inbox, how much time are you giving yourself to do it?
And this doesn’t mean you just do as much as you can do in the allotted time, and get to the rest of it tomorrow. If the deadline is today, get it done TODAY — not half of it, not 87% of it. All of it.
Clear Beginnings and Endings
Directly related to the above point, this tactic is great to use when it comes to your non-work and non-essential activities — checking your social media timelines, playing with the dog, smoke breaks, etc. Being disciplined is not about being an always-on-task robot 24/7; even laptops and smartphones need a rest every now and then, and they are robots.
So, the next time a friend calls during your work day and asks if you’re free, you can be — but now it’s, I have fifteen minutes, or yeah, I can talk until 2 o’clock. These clear boundaries will help you regain control of that time that seems to magically slip through the cracks of your day and add up to lost hours, days and years of potential productivity.
Ok, you have an understanding of the time thing. Now the question is, what the hell do I do with my time? What comes first, what’s after that, and how do I even get to everything?
Now, we prioritize. And here’s the truth that you need to accept: not everything is going to make the cut. And that’s OK — because when you prioritize your tasks, time and energy, you’ll see clearly why you chose what you chose over the stuff that will now be left undone or eliminated.
The word Priority is defined as the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important. Prioritizing, then, is simply deciding what’s most important for your life/body/business/family/etc. List all of the things you want to do or feel that you need to do, then rank them by order of what gets you closest to you most important goals.
If you get stuck, the tiebreaker question is, which of these is more important? Yes, you do know which one it is. And there are no ties allowed.
If your time issues are work-related (and in the USA, whose time issues aren’t?), I’m 99% sure you have the same problem I’ve had: You’re doing too many things… that you don’t have to be doing yourself.
Listen, I’m all for doing too much, as long as that too much are things that only you can perform. No one can give your speeches, or do your burpees, or meet with your coaching clients for you. But updating your website, responding to customer service emails, editing social media graphics? That’s a job for a personal assistant or virtual assistant or Fiverr worker-for-hire or a fan of yours who wants to help out. Put them to use.
I know your first objection: You can’t afford to hire people. Actually, you can afford to, and once you understand how, you’ll understand how you can’t afford not to.
Here’s the equation.
- Estimate how many hours you work in the average day.
- Calculate how much money you’ve earned over the past year, and break that down to your monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly earning rates.
- Is your hourly earnings rate > $5? If no, read The Seller’s Mindset and take my Content Machine Course. If yes, then you can, at worst, start utilizing Fiverr to start making your money work for you. What follows is the logic that makes that make sense.
- Let’s say your yearly income brings you to a rate of $20/hour; that’s how much you earned each hour on average ($20/hour equates to a roughly $38,000 yearly salary, for your reference; for $100K you’d be at $52/hour). What this means: Any time you spend working, the only sensible work you should be doing should be on stuff that brings in at least $20/hour or more. Anything you do that can be outsourced (Read: done by someone other than you) for less than your $20 hourly rate, should be ruthlessly outsourced. Any work that could be outsourced for $19/hour or less, but you’re doing yourself instead, you’re literally losing money — a $20/hour person doing $5/hour work is losing $15 every hour. You’re making yourself poor. Michael Hyatt explains the 5 levels of delegation here and Tim Ferriss expertly details, with scripts and all, how exactly to delegate work to people in The 4-Hour Workweek.
Time is our most valuable resource. Unlike money, we can’t waste it frivolously and just go make more of it. The investments you make with your time — and you’re making them every second — will determine your path in life. As a matter of fact, your past time investments are what got you to where you are today. The first step to making better time investments, then, is to stop making the bad ones. Refer back to this article and check yourself every now and then to make sure you’ll be pleased with your returns.