Guard Your Time Like You Would Guard Your Life
You wake up in the morning, and turn your phone on. Among the email forwards, app notifications and good morning messages from your mom, is an innocuous looking request on one of your instant messengers – Let’s talk about an idea I have over lunch.
Usually, you would go back and forth, discussing what the idea is. Maybe you would even have a phone call for a few minutes, discussing potential lunch venues. Right?
I am going to pose a radical idea to you right now – If you want to be more successful, more productive and happier, JUST SAY NO.
That’s it. No. You don’t give explanations. You don’t justify your reasons. You just say No.
Or, if you want to word it more politely, you can say something like “I’m sorry, but I can’t” or “I’m afraid I can’t. Thanks for asking!”
Now you might be wondering why I recommend this strategy. You might even be thinking you will come off as antisocial, or a loner, a shut-in, a hermit or any other choice words used to describe someone who does this.
“Let’s get coffee and catch up!” – No.
“I think we should get together for a few drinks to plan it out.” – No.
No. No. No.
Even if the request is completely harmless, even if it’s only going to take 20 minutes of your time, even if it’s something that all your instincts right now are telling you to pursue.
You know why? You don’t have enough time.
If you’re working a day job and want to start your own business someday, you don’t have enough time.
If your business is struggling and you would like to see it grow and expand, you don’t have enough time.
If you are busy but you would like to read more books or go to the gym, you don’t have enough time.
If you really want to get into the 1%, the ones that other people talk or write articles about, guard your time like your life depends on it. Because it does. Your ultimate goal should be to have the LEAST amount of stuff scheduled in your calendar that will still keep your business and career afloat. That’s it. No more, no less.
Do this right now. It will only take a second. Divide your current income by 8760. (8760 is the total number of hours in a year)
Got that number? Great – that’s what each hour of your time is worth right now.
If you want to increase that number, you can only make each hour worth more. Since you’re not a time-bending wizard yet, you are always going to have 8760 hours in a year. So, all those 30-minute meetings, 25-minute phone calls, 2-hour birthday parties come out of your 8760. Additionally, as a human being you have to sleep 6-8 hours a day. That’s another 2500 hours or so that you’ll spend sleeping.
Commit to Clearing Your Calendar
Have you ever been working on a project only to have a notification pop up on your phone which leads you down a rabbit hole of ideas and actions? Of course you have. When you return to whatever you were doing several minutes (or hours) later, you have reorient, refocus and gather your train of thought to perform the original task optimally.
Meetings, phone calls and unnecessary (again, you want to have the LEAST stuff possible on your schedule without tanking your business) interactions work much the same way. They take away from your day, they disrupt your thoughts and they make it impossible to devote your attention to important tasks.
Famous writer and investor Paul Graham has a very interesting take on this. According to him, there are two types of people and they run their lives in different ways.
- Managers understand that they have to segregate their day into blocks of administration, phone calls and meetings.
- Makers understand that they need large chunks of unscheduled, uninterrupted time to build, create and think.
Which one would you rather be?
The Most Important Currency You Have
George Marshall, who served as Chief of Staff of the US Army and Secretary of State, was once asked to sit for an official portrait. Despite his best efforts, Marshall was unable to avoid getting out of this endeavor. Over several days, Marshall sat still while the artist worked on his portrait. On the final day, as soon as the artist informed him that the painting was done, Marshall quickly thanked him and walked out, without looking at the painting. He didn’t want to spend any more time than he had to.
Seneca, one of the most Stoic philosophers, once stated that one of the most baffling things about humans is our relationship with time. He stated that even though people were ready to fight wars and cause each other grievous bodily harm over an inch or two of land encroachment, they were incredibly willing to let people encroach on their lives.
You wouldn’t hand out your hard-earned money to everyone who passed you on the street. But you are all too willing to let other people eat into your time.
Think about it – you can always earn more money. Once you’ve spent your time, it’s gone. Forever.
Now listen up, and this is important. Make a pledge right now to clear your calendar of clutter. If it isn’t absolutely, Defcon 5 essential, get rid of it. you’ll be amazed by how much more time you have in your day. All of a sudden, you’ll have hours every day to work on that book. To work on your website. To work on what you love.
At Dubsado, it is our mission to free time for people like you. We understand that there aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s why we created a system that completely automates a large percentage of your repetitive business tasks – scheduling, invoicing, follow-ups, you name it. What do you do with all that free time? Build a better business. Work on your goals. Make the world better.