I know some of you have been wondering what happened to me. I had been really active with my blogging and social media… until a few months ago. Then I just vanished (“Look: magic!”… sorry, couldn’t resist).
I had this question rattling around in my head that just wouldn’t go away… and that I couldn’t seem to answer by myself.
“Could the things I had been doing for the past 20 years work for anyone?”
Up to that point I had been working exclusively with people who already labeled themselves “experts” in a certain field. They had built businesses around passing on their expertise, through everything from books to instructional videos to coaching.
But here’s what was bugging me…
I’m aware that I’m really, really good at what I do. It’s not that I’m some super-genius — I’ve just tried and failed at it more than anyone else….and then picked myself up, figured out a better way, and kept going.
However, to keep myself honest (and humble), I’m equally aware that there are a lot of things that I don’t know squat about.
Isn’t this true of all of us?
It has to be.
Here’s a Universal Truth for you: every person has a unique set of experiences and skills. Even if you and I had grown up in the same neighborhood, gone to the same schools, had the same hobbies and ended up in the same careers… you’d still know things that I didn’t, and vice versa.
Here’s something else I know: we all have things we want to be better at.
Maybe you want to be better at some aspect of your business. Maybe there’s a skill that could get you ahead at work. Possibly it’s just a hobby that you love.
Your goal could be growth, or to be more productive, or simply to make some aspect of your work or life easier.
If you knew something that could help me, I’d gladly pay you for it!
Because you’re going to save me time.
Money can be replenished. Time, once spent, is gone forever.
The successful people I had been working with already knew that.
We have a saying among the people in my tribe:
“If you know something that can help people, it’s your duty to humanity to pass on that wisdom to as many people as possible.”
So what about everyone else holding on to valuable, hidden wisdom that’s just wasting away inside of them?
Well, I’m a scientist at heart (and by training)… so I devised an experiment.
- I already had a control group of people that were making their entire living teaching others.
- I had systems and procedures that allowed them to monetize that teaching at multiple levels.
- I had a question: could anyone do this?
- … and a hypothesis: “YES, THEY CAN!”
All I needed was a bunch of ….
So I picked up the phone. I called people I knew, personally, and people that had never heard of me (it makes for a really interesting cold call when you’re not actually trying to sell anything).
Honestly, many people felt they couldn’t do it… couldn’t devote the time (a very small amount of time, as we found out).
That’s sad because one of the other things we found out was that the people who were quickest to say they didn’t have the time were the ones who needed it the most! (part of the experiment was me checking in with those folks to see if anything in their life or business had changed — it hadn’t)
But I can’t make people choices for them. C’est la vie!
We’re helping more and more people every day now, but the “experiment” is concluded.
We learned a lot. Some of what I had expected turned out to be true. But there were also a lot of surprises (mostly good, but not always).
The best news is that we’ve taken everything we learned and rolled it back into the system… mostly to make things even faster and easier than ever before.
And now that the system is working for people, I have more time to share the lessons with the rest of you.
Several years ago one of our best friends almost died of a heart attack. After having 3 stents put in, the doctor told him he would have to lose a significant amount of weight if he wanted to live much longer.
For most people, losing weight is a very complex process with lots of variable… foods you can and can’t eat, carbs, fat, sugars, gluten, exercise. Ugh!
Our friend lost over 70 pounds and has kept it off for years.
He chose to focus on only one input and one output.
The output was his weight, which he still tracks daily.
The input was salt.
I’m not qualified to say why salt was the answer on a health or biological level, nor am I suggesting anyone should start watching their salt.
But I do know what really made it work: he focused on One Thing.
The hard part for everyone is making a decision in that critical moment when you’re confronted with something you know you should not do (or not sure if you should do it).
So what’s this got to do with time management?
Everything, if you ask me (and you kinda are if you’re reading this).
Think about the dozens of decisions you have to make every day about where you’re going to spend your time.
What’s your process for deciding what to do in any given moment?
Hang on, let me try to read your mind…
You don’t have one!
If you do, it’s likely some jumble of unrelated variables like how much time you have right now, what’s next on your to-do list, what time of day it is, how important you believe the task is to others, some sort of pre-prioritization system, the seeming urgency of the request, etc.
Wouldn’t it be easier if there were just one metric that worked every time?
If you read my last post, The Most Productive 3 Minutes You’ll Spend All Week, you may be reading my mind now. I’m talking about a very specific metric: the value of your time.
Once you have that number, you have all the power in the world to easily make decisions about your time.
But don’t get ahead of me… there’s an important catch in the process that isn’t obvious. So let me walk you through it…
Step 1: Calculate how much the task is worth
This may seem like a SWAG (scientific wild a** guess), but it shouldn’t be. Since we’re talking work-related tasks, almost everything can be broken into three broad categories:
- Income Generation. This would include things like work for hire and sales calls… anything where you can assign a hard dollar figure to the amount of money you’ll make in that period of time.
- Asset Building. These are things that you work on now, but for the purpose of generating income later. Investing is the obvious case. Less obvious are things like writing books, recording video for online courses or creating physical products.
- Expenses. Pretty-much everything else.
All three calculations are easy:
Income generation is straightforward. You know exactly how much you’ll make. Even if it’s a sales call, just multiply the potential income by your conversion rate.
Asset Building will require a bit of speculation, but the math is still easy… and VERY EXCITING (which is why I’ll be talking a lot more about it in coming weeks). Just take the price of the end product and multiply by how many you think you can sell over a lifetime. WARNING: that could be a big number… which is why I spend most of my time doing these sorts of tasks.
Expenses. This one can be solved with a simple question: “How much could/would you pay someone else to do it for you?”
The bottom line is that you must do this first. Psychologically, you want to know how much this task is worth to you, over the long term, before you proceed.
Step 2: Divide by how much time it will take
Do I need to spell this one out for you? I didn’t think so. Just get to a dollars-per-hour figure.
Step 3: Compare to the value of your time
Yeah, I know you saw that one coming. You’re getting really good at this mind reading stuff.
You’ve only got two potential outcomes:
- The task is worth more than the value of your time: do it!
- The task is worth less than the value of your time: don’t do it!
See how easy that is?
You may be wondering what happens if you don’t do it?
You have several options. I’ll cover them in detail in a future post, but here are two simple options:
- Forget about it. You’d be surprised how many things will work themselves out once you choose to ignore them.
- Delegate to someone that will do it for less than what your time is worth.
Next Up: The power of creating assets
“Is it worth your time?”
We hear versions of this phrase all the time.
Well now you’ll be able to actually answer that question with a definitive answer!
- Pick a time frame. I suggest going with how often you get “paid.” If you’re an employee, that’s probably some number of weeks (1, 2 or 4). If you’re not on a regular work schedule (speakers, entertainers, etc.), go with however often you do your accounting. For those who have their income on auto-pilot, try choosing a single day (that’s the point, isn’t it?).
- Calculate your income. Simple How much money, on average, do you make during that time frame?
- Calculate your hours. How many hours did you actually spend working during that time frame? Include everything that goes into supporting your income. If you travel for work (to and office, or across the globe), count that time. If you’re on the auto-pilot side of things, only count the time you’re actually doing something (playing on the beach DOES NOT COUNT).
- Do the math. Divide #2 by #3.
This is one of the very first things my mentor made me do when we started working together.
The 3 minutes it took to calculate changed my life forever.
This post is the first in a series of short posts on how to finally get to work on all of those “important” things you keep trying to “get to,” but never seem to have enough time for.
Next Up: The sure-fire way to cut out time-wasters.