There’s a lie that I hear repeated all the time.
I heard it while running my first landscaping business, I heard it repeatedly in my fitness business, and I hear it a lot in my consulting business.
And it should be noted that I consult across multiple industries, which means I’ve heard it in, well, most industries.
I heard it today. I heard it yesterday. I heard it last week. And I’ll probably hear it tomorrow.
This lie is one that, when used, steals your hopes and dreams. It takes away from your family, your vendors and your customers. It snatches the life right out of you.
Have you used this lie?
Let’s find out… Have you ever said…
- There’s not enough hours in a day.
- I’m just too busy.
- I don’t have time.
This sneaky little lie, the “I’m too busy”, is a complete load of crap.
I mean, I know you’re busy…
You’re busy… Sir Richard Branson is busy… Obama is busy…and my three year old daughter is busy.
We’re all busy. It’s the standard response whenever someone asks how you’re doing.
I’ve consulted for clients that have failing businesses and are sitting around twirling their thumbs, yet when I ask them to get something done – and they don’t – and I press why, the number one response I get is “I was too busy”.
Listen, if it makes you feel good about yourself to say you’re busy, then knock yourself out, but don’t kid yourself: Being productive, and being busy, is two different things.
Now, just for the record… I’m not complaining about the fact that you’re busy, or that you say you’re busy. We all make our own beds…
I’m writing this to those who want to get more done, but complain about being busy. I’m writing this for those who use “busy” as an excuse. I’m writing this for those who think being less busy is going to solve their problems.
Being busy is never a problem or constraint. Not understanding how to prioritize, delegate or say NO is the problem.
Let’s just say, hypothetically, that you are currently working 12 hour days, 7 days a week, and bringing in 100 thousand dollars. If your goal is to make $200K, and you think you don’t have any spare time in your week because you’re too busy, it’s never going to happen. Or you’re going to have to work 24 hours a day to make that 200K.
And if you want to triple business, bring in that 300K, you’re going to need to start working 36 hours for every 24 hour day.
Good luck with that 😉
And let me add that your level of “business” is going to INCREASE when you’re making 200K, 500K, 1MM, etc.
Money has ZERO correlation to how busy you are. I’ve met broke artist, musicians, writers and new entrepreneurs that say they are way too busy.
As long as you view being busy as an excuse for not achieving your goals, you’ll never break free. You’ll be chained to your watch, phone, day-timer, or what ever you use to validate your busyness.
I’m giving you, right here right now, permission to break free from the “busy” choke-hold and take charge of your life, your time and your future once and for all.
Okay, so now what?
Well, I wish it was as simple as admitting it, but it’s not. Sure, like any addiction, admitting it is the first step – so congratulate yourself – but now we need to take some action otherwise next week you’ll be telling yourself you’re too busy again.
One of the first steps to taking control of your time is to understand that you need to be proactive about it. You can’t wait until life piles everything onto you and then try and plan things out from there.
When you were in school, have you ever done the “stones in a jar” experiment?
It’s an old, common analogy, but just in case, let me explain…
The teacher pulls out a jar and ask the students to dump some sand into it. Then, the teacher asks the students to fit a series of larger rocks in as well.
Sort of like this…
As you can see, not all the rocks fit.
But then, the teacher empties the jar and asks the students to start over. This time the teacher instructs them to put the larger rocks first, followed by the sand.
As you can see, done this way, the same rocks and sand fit into the jar.
Tadaa! Like magic, it all fits.
Only it’s not magic.
And we’re not talking about rocks, sand, jars and trivial activities.
This is your life, and the rocks are your big, overriding priorities, and the sand is everything else.
Think of the rocks as your MUST, and the sand as all your SHOULDS.
Think of the rocks as your VITAL FEW, and the sand as your USEFUL MANY.
Sure, they all have their place, and might all be important, but we all have a series of priorities, usually only THREE main ones, that take precedence over every thing else in life.
If you’re serious about ditching little league and moving on up to the big leagues, commit to following these steps for the next 5 days.
1 – Grab a pen and write out EVERYTHING you typically do in a day. Things like answer the phone, email, Facebook, eat and snack, cold call, visit a client, scrub the floor, etc. EVERYTHING that you do in your work day gets put on this list.
2 – Determine and highlight 3 top things that MUST be done by you and you alone. These are the actions that are vital to your success.
Don’t fall into the trap of “grouping” things together. For example, let’s say that you’ve determined that prospecting is a high priority and something only you should do. Well, don’t put that down as one big thing because let’s face it, before you know it you’re researching the prospect, booking the meetings, following up, driving to the meeting, grabbing coffee, prepping your materials, blah blah blah, and the whole process may have taken 5 hours, but you truly only spent 45 minutes in front of the client. So no grouping, list EVERYTHING out.
3 – Now, get yourself a stopwatch and… oh who am I kidding… open up your smartphone and head to the stopwatch app and learn how to use it easily. For the next two days I want you to start the stop watch the second you begin to engage in any of your top 3 priorities, then stop it the second you finish.
So let’s use prospecting again, you don’t start the stopwatch the second you leave the office, you start it the moment you’re about to walk into the clients office. And stop it the second you walk out. That’s the only true measure of your time with that priority.
4 – Tally up your results. If you did this properly, and didn’t lie to yourself, you probably feel sick to your stomach. I remember when I first did this, after an entire 12 hour day of “busyness”, I was so excited to look at my stopwatch, and almost cried when I realized I had only put in 53 minutes of actual TOP PRIORITY work in a 12 hour shift.
This brought me to my knees. But I was committed to improvement, so I did it again. The next day, I really tried to focus on my priorities and after another long day, I thought I did pretty good and was excited to see my improvement. 1 hour and 17 minutes. Yep. 24 minute increase. 🙁
So step 1 and 2 should’ve only taken a few hours, and step 3 should have been 2 days. That leaves us with 3 days left to improve.
5 – At the end of each day, set aside 30 minutes to write out everything that you need to get done the next day, as well as your top priorities. Make sure that you plan to get your priorities done first. And don’t forget to use your stopwatch.
6 – Repeat, measure and improve. The goal here is constant and never ending improvement. Each day you should be getting better and better, and learning to focus on the things that matter MOST.
The main point in all this is to learn to prioritize your life. Once you’ve established what’s important, what’s a priority, you should start filling your day with those priorities, and nothing else.
“Wait, then who’s going to do all my other work?”
And you already know the answer: DELEGATE.
Now that you’ve established your priorities, you should know your worth, and understand that you’re too valuable to be doing anything less than your priorities, so hire someone to do the rest.
Sure, you can argue that you can’t afford to hire someone, and that’s fine, but if you read my article The Keys To Becoming Unstoppable you would already know that being resourceful is a key factor in determining your success. This leaves you with two options, 1 – find a way, 2 – keep doing exactly what you’re doing and hope for the best.
Personally, I’d rather find a way. Success doesn’t jsut get handed down, you need to go out and make it happen.
Anyhow, this article is already much longer than I had planned so I’m going to wrap it up… BUT, don’t just read this article, nodding your head and thinking “what great ideas!”. Do something about it. Success comes from ACTION.
So get to work, prioritize your life and grow.
To your success,
PS: A lot of business owners don’t realize that marketing is, very often, NOT something that should be on their priority list. I’m mean it shouldn’t be getting done, don’t be silly, marketing should be in action ALL THE TIME. I’m saying the owner shouldn’t be wasting time designing flyers, writing ads, making posters, business cards and websites. Delegate that to the pros and focus on building the business. Listen, NASCAR drivers don’t change the oil and rotate the tires. Starbucks CEO doesn’t pour the coffee. Richard Branson doesn’t code the website. Yes, the owner of a business needs to provide the vision, the plan, the goals, the direction – but delegate the work to those who specialize in each area. You’re the owner, act like it.