While driving I like to use my “Zero” time to listen to Audio books and podcasts about business. This helps to maximize my productivity and hopefully keeps me awake while making my 15 minute commute. One of my most repeated audio books for the last 7 years has been the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. I wish I could summarize this book for you, but to be honest Tim covers far too much material …. 100 mile view it would be something like this:
Get 10x as much work done in half the time while building sustainable wealth through automated systems. It’s how you disconnect your time from your income.
Sounds good right? Well it is. And it has changed my life in more ways than one.
This blog post will just cover a small portion of one topic from the book. Time management solutions can be very simple, however following through might just be the hardest thing you ever do in your business. =
This is HIGH LEVEL STUFF, people! Try to imagine what would change about your day if you could make some of these adjustments.
There is one point I would like to make right upfront, and it may offend some of you. If you say your to busy to do this stuff, it just means you are to lazy to invest in better productivity. Investing time now to build systems is the only way to ensure a more productive and less time consuming business in the future.
Implement to imprint
The very first time I read 4HWW I made the effort to complete each of the exercises recommended. This is a little trick I learned from Tony Robbins and it really does help you to create ACTION. One of the first exercises was to write down each of the things you NEEDED to get done during your current workday. Then write down how long those tasks should take if worked on from start to finish. Subtract that number from how many hours you were at the office … what is left? When I saw the results I just about passed out. For this particular work day I arrived at the office around 9:00 and left around 5:30. So I had been there 8.5 hours. When I added up the MUST DO activities for the day the total added up to about 3.5 hours. Sick …..
**What the hell was I doing?!?!**
Next you are asked to account for any other activities that you did which wasted your time. Add those to the list and add up how long you spend doing it. In my case I had a full 3 hours of “Filler” junk which was not relevant or necessary. (Surfing the internet, playing angry birds, Goal tending my email inbox, Facebooking, chatting with other people in the office and going out for a nice hour long lunch). The remaining 2 hours were filled with work that Tim calls “Reactive”. Example: Someone calls and you drop what you are doing in order to “put out the fire.”
Tasks are busy work but not always productive work.
So how then do you maximize the productivity of your workday? Well here is how this process has evolved for me. At night I make a list of all the items I need to get done the next day. Then I look over the list and circle the ONE or TWO items that are most important. PLEASE remember to add business building activities to this list each day. It’s very easy to get caught up writing “task” oriented list of busy work, but your business will only succeed if you consistently invest your time in business building activities. It’s working “on” your business VS. “in” your business. I was the king of task oriented work and am still a little reactive; however just understanding how much time you are losing causes you to stay on track. The next morning, immediately begin completing the important tasks.
DO NOT PUT THEM OFF BECAUSE THEY ARE HARDER OR MORE TIME CONSUMING – IMPORTANT THINGS ALWAYS ARE.
If you can’t figure out which activity is the most important, find which one is the hardest. Usually they are the same.
Jim McMahan might have said it best when he said “So you say you’re busy, busy doing what?” Ask yourself this question when you have an unproductive day and analyze what you could have changed or avoided with better planning. Stop sitting by your computer waiting for the next task to present itself.
YOU SHOULD PLAN YOUR DAY! Don’t let the person emailing you change the flow of your business. Email can wait for a few hours right? What would you say is an acceptable response time for email? If I’m getting a response the same day I am plenty happy. So just make sure to go through them one by one before you leave work and DO NOT REACT to the fires each email might present. The second you react to that email and try to fix something, you will neglect to get through the rest of the emails which is not okay. I like to call this Email Time Suck Syndrome.
Here is something to consider, again according to Ferris … “email is someone else’s agenda for your time.” Each email sent to you is sent to elicit a response. Your response elicits another response … and this can go on forever! You will never get ahead without controlling your response times and using definitive statements in every email.
One good example of how I have become definitive in emails is my Calendar App. If someone wants to make an appointment with me, we don’t go back and forth with proposed times until our schedules magically align. I don’t even look up my calendar and give them 3 days and times… That takes a few minutes by itself. I just send them THIS LINK and let them book the appointment. This little tweak alone saves me hours every week. Additionally, I have my calendar set up to email follow up the people I’ve got appointments with to remind them of the time and location 24 hours before and 1 hour before.
Policy and expectation are your friends
Establish your communication policy with your clients and set the expectation that you will follow it to the letter. They will respect the fact that you are so organized and this will buy you oodles of time for more productive work.
Example of good Communication policy (Very similar to Tim Ferris’s recommendation)
Any of your clients who email you with questions will have a response back the same business day. Check your emails around 11:00 and 4:30. If the email comes in after 4:30 you can get to their email that evening, or respond for sure around 11:00 the next morning. If there is truly an urgent situation that needs your attention, they can call you. Key point: IF IT IS TRULY URGENT!
The expectation should be that you need to be as productive as possible and having set email times allows you to concentrate on getting your job done. Taking emails from clients in the middle of the day will take you away from planned activities thus causing more delays and poor service.
You can also employ services like Sanebox.com to help filter the emails and have your assistant read, respond when possible and tag them for you only if it needs your personal attention. Think about the value of your time, If you are a high producing Loan Officer, you are making 6 or 7 figures a year, which means your time is worth A LOT. In the last year of my production, for each hour I spent working in the loan business, I brought in about $1,200 in Revenue. Have your assistant, @ $30 an hour do as much as possible … your time is better served selling and meeting clients.
Real service is one on one
Please remember that service is not necessarily how responsive you are, but instead giving each client your FULL attention when it’s their turn. Writing an email or making a phone call during a client meeting would be considered very unprofessional right? Im sure you have experienced it, when you are meeting with someone but only have half their attention.
So then why wouldn’t diverting attention from a project you are working on for “client A” because of something non urgent that “client B” needs be considered the same way? You’re not doing anyone any favors … especially yourself.
So try this one simple thing, it’s called “Single-tasking” and is one of the best ways to ensure you are effective. Example, I wrote this article in one sitting, without answering a call or checking my email.. Those things would have pulled me right out of my creative flow.
BTW: Creative flow is a real thing. On average when pulled away from work to deal with something else, it takes you 10-15 minutes to catch back up to the productivity speed you were working at before you got pulled away. That means that not only did you lose time during the interruption, but also lost time during that 15 minutes when you were not as effective. Sometimes I’ll even forget what I was working on and never get back to where I was.
I would love to hear your successes and failures with time management. Also, I cannot recommend Tim Ferris’s book, The 4 Hour Workweek enough. If you implement 1/8th of what he teaches your business will be changed forever!
PS: Need an example? I was an Originator for 11 years, now I run one of the fastest Growing tech companies in the Mortgage space solving all of the problems I had as a Loan Officer by leveraging technology.