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