Today, I thought I’d make a slight departure from normal broadcasting to share some insights I’ve gained since taking over the reins at RoarLocal.
You see, recently, we’ve been doing some restructuring here at Roar.
We’re implementing systems that allow the business to grow beyond previous levels. We’ve already started using some systems and there are still tons more to fine-tune. All of which takes a lot of time.
And that’s been getting to me.
Time is the most precious commodity we have.
Once it’s gone, it’s gone. How you choose to spend it might just be the most important decision you face every day.
I get frustrated by having to spend my time creating and implementing systems, when what I really want is to spend my time finding people who we can help.
After all, that’s the bit that pays us, right?
If you run a business, then in a way, your time counts even more. You’ve chosen to spend some of your life building a business.
But very few people want to run a business for their entire waking life. Most of us want a business that will provide a certain lifestyle for us at some point, even if we want to continue working on that business.
We all know that we have to put some serious time and effort into that business to reach that hallowed point. And we also know that we should be working smarter, not harder.
So, with that in mind, I want to show you some of the ways that I’ve hacked my time and my brain to get better results here at Roar.
Incidentally, by ‘better’ results, I mean both faster and more consistent (as well as ‘of a higher standard’).
Limit Your E-Mail
This is probably the biggest draw on your time as a business owner.
It also has a deeply insidious quality to it: It triggers our human instinct to respond to things that are happening right now (regardless of importance), instead of working on what really matters.
How many times in the last week have you kept your e-mail open in one tab while working in another? Close it! You don’t need to be wired into your inbox for 8 hours per day.
Stop reacting to other people’s agendas, instead of plotting and implementing your own. Here’s how to get better results thanks to ‘mindful e-mailing’:
- Limit the checking of e-mail to twice per day. No more.
- Allot a specific amount of time to your e-mail when you do check it. One hour max. If you don’t answer everything, that’s ok, it can wait.
- Don’t write long-winded replies when a few words will do. This used to annoy me when communicating with Neil. He’s famous for his short replies to e-mails. Now I know why he’s doing it. He has other things to do and doing e-mail for 3 hours would take him away from that. When I get a reply from him, it’s short and to-the-point.
- Don’t reply to everything. Not every e-mail needs a response. Get good at ignoring the ones that don’t. There are more of them than you might think.
- Don’t check work e-mail when you’re not working!
Have A Team
I’m actually working towards the point of having our lovely VA Patricia deal with my e-mail for me. I’m a long way off yet, but it’s a conscious goal that I have.
On that note, you need help if you want to get your business to ‘run itself’. You’ll still be needed for key decisions but if you structure it right, you won’t need to do any of the ‘grunt work’.
Instead, you can hire people to do that for you:
- Check out sites like Elance for individual tasks you need doing.
- Go to OnlineJobs.ph for full-time workers. You can hire amazingly good Filipino workers to work 40 hours per week for you for $300 per month. Their English is great (if somewhat ‘Americanised’) and their work ethic is amazing. Plus, the exchange rate means that you can pay them extremely well in their currency for very little of yours. Our bookkeeper is Filipina and she’s amazingly good.
- Create a structure (like a mini-course) for each of the steps in your business, then teach that course to your outsourcer. It takes a lot longer but it means that they’ll do it your way, every time.
- For more on creating a team and teaching them how to do your work, read The E-Myth Revisited.
Turn Off Notifications
Ah, modern technology. Don’t you love it? We’re more interconnected now than ever… And it’s a pain in the arse.
At least, it is if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to get things done.
Every time you get interrupted by the ‘ding’ of Facebook messenger, or the ‘ping’ of a new text message, you’re being taken away from running your business.
Some experts have said that interruptions like these can cause your brain to not return to the task at hand for up to 20 minutes after they happen. Can you afford that amount of wasted time?
- Turn off all notifications on your desktop, laptop and on your bloody phone!
Just Say No
The more kudos you get in your niche, the more you’ll find people will demand your time. This is great, as it shows that your message is getting through.
But it’s also dreadful for business. You need to learn how and when to say no. It doesn’t have to be overly blunt or rude, but you do need to say it.
You might also have to miss some fun social occasions with friends because you need to prioritise work. In that time that you might have spent in the pub, you could secure a new client, or continue the process of getting out of the way of your business.
- Get good at saying no to things. The funny thing is, people tend to respect those that say no, because they trust that the refuser has something better to do. Prove them right.
Stamp Out Meetings
I know a lot of business people who always seem to be ‘on their way to a meeting’.
Here’s the problem: What are you doing on the way to that meeting? And what about on the way home? Chances are that even if you’re working, you’re not nearly as effective as you could be if you stayed in the office.
And how important is that meeting, really? In most cases, you can sort the issue-at-hand with a few e-mails or a few Skype calls.
Tools like Skype give you the chance to still have the meeting, but to be able to go straight back to work in your office afterwards. No travelling for you.
Some meetings are crucial, sure, I get it. That merger with another big company, or negotiations to sell your company to Google probably need you to be ‘in the room’. But there aren’t many of those in an average week.
- Get rid of meetings that you don’t need to go to. Chances are, that’s all of them. I agree that the personal touch helps seal a big deal, but all those smaller ones don’t require your presence. Really.
- If you have to have a meeting: Use Skype or GoToMeeting. It’s almost as good as being there, without all that wasted travel and waiting-around time.
- Don’t be fooled into meetings by someone offering to buy you lunch. It’ll cost you most of your day and you can’t afford that kind of lost time in your week.
Kill The TV
I haven’t watched TV for more than 3 hours this year. And that was to watch something that only happens once every 4 years (England crashing out of the World Cup).
If I do watch TV, it’s usually via Netflix, where I can choose something specific, watch an episode and then go back to reading a useful book (of which more in a moment).
- No matter how engaging it might seem at the time, you’re not going to be on your death bed wishing you watched more Game of Thrones. Lose the telly.
Focus On The Highest Returns
I was recently reading Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing (amazing book for entrepreneurs) in this quest for better results.
The book is based on the Pareto principle, whereby 80% of your returns actually come from 20% of your activity. It’s a weird law that can be seen in nature as well as business.
However, Perry also uncovers the fact that there’s an 80/20 split happening within the first 80/20. This means that you can get 80% of the 80% of returns from 20% of the 20% of the effort. Put more simply, you’ll get 64% of the results from 4% of the efforts.
(I know, it fried my brain a bit too. Read it again slowly, it does make sense, promise.)
- Start to be more aware of what you’re doing when you’re working. Is it giving you a good return or are you just doing it to feel busy?
- Monitor the figures in your business. Where is that 4% of effort that’s yielding 64% of your returns? Do more of that 4% and less of the other 96%.
- Outsource the menial tasks and ‘grunt work’. You shouldn’t be doing it.
Recalibrate Your Inner Employee
At the risk of sounding like Deepak Chopra, you need to recalibrate your perspective to succeed as an entrepreneur.
What I mean by that is that you need to realise that you’ve probably been programmed to think that you need to work for 8 hours every day.
After all, every ‘job’ you’ve ever had has probably had an element of 9-5 to it, right?
Well, that’s over now.
If you really get the previous point I made about focusing on your highest returns, then this should be self evident:
- Remind yourself daily that you should be productive, not busy. Then find the tasks that produce the results and do them.
- Stop sitting at your desk doing stuff, just because you think you should be there for 8 hours per day. If you’ve done all you need to do that day, go and do something that engages your brain creatively, or engages your body physically. It will make your work better.
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That was kind of an epic post, wasn’t it? Hopefully it’s one that resonates with you, as I’m implementing all of this now to get better results in my own entrepreneurial journey.
Most importantly, pick one thing and focus on it this week. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as they’re all designed to improve your results.
So, did I miss anything? Or did anything really hit home for you? Leave me a comment below and let me know if you like this type of post. I’ve had fun writing it, but it’s pointless unless it helps you too. If it does, I’ll create more. If not, I’ll go back to the ‘here’s how to be awesome at marketing’ posts. Let me know below.