March 23rd, 2011 David Finkel (Taxloopholes.com Advisor)
It struck me last week as I did my final prep for our family’s move back to Jackson Hole how critical it is to leverage your time and create more value in less time. Which is why I want to revisit this subject in today’s post (and yes it’s going to be a long one but I promise you it will be MORE than worth it!)
I want to share some tangible ideas to help you leverage your personal use of time to get more of what you want in less time.
Over the last 20 years I’ve had a passion for learning how to structure my time for maximum results.
It started off back in the days I used to be training to play in the Olympics (for about 8 years I played on the United States National Field Hockey Team). I had to figure out how to balance a rigorous training schedule with being a self-supporting college student.
But my biggest breakthroughs have come in the last five years as I’ve learned that hours worked have no bearing on results accomplished or dollars earned.
Once upon a time I thought that the way to become wealthy and successful was to work hard. But that is a Level Two reaction, NOT a Level Three solution.
In today’s letter I want to share with you several key insights to help you get double or triple your results in half the time. Ready? Let’s begin!
People always seem amazed when they hear that I run three companies, sit on the board of two others, author an average of one book and 5 new workshops per year, and manage my family’s investment portfolio. And I do this working an average of 32-35 hours per week.
Not only that but I also read over 100 books each year and exercise an average of 4 times each week, and along with my wife Heather, spend hours each day playing with, cleaning up after, and chasing our twin 2-year-old sons, Matthew and Adam.
I’m not trying to impress you with this, far from it. I have no illusions about myself. But there are certain things that I am world class at, and my use of time is one of them.
Hence, I am merely using myself as an example of how much you can accomplish if you leverage your time using some simple yet profoundly powerful strategies.
It’s exactly these strategies and techniques that I want to lay out and discuss with you in this letter. You see, I know you.
You’re overworked, stressed out, feeling at times like you’re having to run just to stay even, let alone get ahead.
You’re drowning in information and struggling to find an effective way to structure and organize that information.
Most of all you’re frustrated. Frustrated that you have too many “small” things that get in your way of focusing on the big stuff that really matters.
You crave a sense of control and balance in your life, and you’ll do just about anything to enjoy
You just don’t know how to get that control and balance back.
In the past, you’ve chased after results and balance by working harder. You’ve tried working longer hours. You’ve tried working harder for the hours you do work. You’ve brought work home with you, worked while on your “vacation”, multi-tasked while driving, eating, and probably even while sleeping!
And yet it hasn’t helped. The more you do the more you find that is left to be done. It’s a vicious cycle.
A Simple Secret that Holds the Key
I want to let you in on a little secret. Working harder is not the answer. It wasn’t yesterday nor will it be tomorrow.
Working harder is a Level One or Level Two reaction to the fear you feel that you have so much to do. It will NOT get you the results you crave.
In fact, the harder you work, chances are the less you’ll accomplish that really matters. I know this sounds easy for me to say, but hang in there with me as I walk through a key concept with
Many of you have heard of “Pareto’s Principle” which states that 80 percent of your efforts produce 20 percent of your results, and that 20 percent of your effort produces 80 percent of your results. Well if this is true (and my experience shows me that it is) then let’s apply this concept more rigorously.
If you take that 20 percent of your actions that generate 80 percent of your results and apply the same distinction, then 20 percent of that 20 percent produces 80 percent of 80 percent of your results. That means that 4 percent of your effort (the 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 64 percent of your results.
And if you can bear with me for another math moment, apply this distinction one more time…
This means that 1 percent (20 percent of 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 50 percent of your results! Think about it–1 percent of your highest leverage work produces 50 percent of all your results!
I used this idea to create something called the Time Mastery Pyramid™, which is an actual formula I developed about 5 years ago for you to quickly and accurately quantify the per hour value of four distinct types of time: A Time, B Time, C Time, and D Time.
D time is the 80 percent of unleveraged, wasteful time that only produces 20 percent of your total return. I call this time the “80 Percent Mass”
C time is the leveraged 20 percent that produces 80 percent of your results. I call this time “Leveraged Time”.
For most people this is the only distinction they have ever made about time. And while it’s better than most people have, if this is your only distinction on time, you are never going to earn what you are capable of earning, both in terms of income or net worth.
Next there is B time. This is the highly focused 4 percent that generates 64 percent of your results. I call this time the “4 percent Sweet Spot”.
And finally, there is the top of the pyramid–A time–the “Magic 1 Percent”. Fully 50 percent of your results comes from these activities.
Did you know that most people not only have no idea what activities of theirs fall into the above four categories, but they don’t even know they exist? How in the world can you create more A and B time if you don’t know what activities constitute A and B time for you?
Here is the real question for you: What activities do you do that fit into each of the four time categories above? What are your D activities? What are your C activities? What are your B activities? What are you’re A activities?
When you really get this distinction and shift your focus from “putting in hours” to upgrading the type of work you do (more A and B time, and less D time) in the hours you do work, the results are amazing.
Let me share an example with you. Imagine you are an attorney who charges $300 an hour. What would your D time activities be? Things like fixing a computer glitch, or making copies, or sorting out mail, or any of the things you do that you cannot bill a client for! What should you do with these activities? Delay them, delegate them, or dump them. You simply cannot afford to do them yourself.
What would your “C time” activities be? Anything that is a billable time for you. This could include working on a legal brief, or reviewing a contract, or updating a client.
Understand this: C time can provide you with a great income, but you will always have to work exceptionally hard to earn it. This is the trap that catches most high income professionals. They seek to increase their earnings by cranking out more hours. MISTAKE! More hours will only take you so far. Plus when you get there you’ll be exhausted from all that work, and you’ll be a stranger to your family!
The answer lies in A and B time. B time for this attorney might include building relationships with other professionals who refer over business. Or putting systems in place in their law firm so that their staff can get better results without needing so much of our fictional attorney’s time. It might also include creating an accounts receivable system that increases the collection on all the firms billings by 10 percent. You get the idea.
What would A time look like? This could be speaking at a large conference where this attorney is able to generate new client relationships for his or her firm that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of billable services. Or it could be writing a book that can be used to generate new business for the
See the difference yet? D time is by definition something that you should get off your plate. C time is time that you do your work more effectively. A and B time, however, are when you step out of the “doing-ness” of the work and do something that improves your capacity to create results, or significantly pushes back your limiting factor (e.g. generating new clients, improving a critical system, etc.)
In fact, by focusing on upgrading your USE of time instead of focusing on increasing your hours worked, you can often double or triple your income, while at the same time lowering your working hours.
It’s worked for me. 15 years ago I was working 70 hour weeks. I now earn more than multiples what I earned back then and work less than half the hours.
Trading time for dollars is a Level Two reaction. Upgrading your use of time to create more with less is the Level Three solution!
So now here comes the big question: How can you have more A and B time?
You won’t get it by “trying harder”. And you won’t get it by sitting down and saying, “Okay, let’s have A time right now.”
Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. That would be like a parent saying to their three year old, “Right, let’s have an hour of quality time right now Junior.” How well do you think that would work?
What I’ve discovered is that to get more A and B time you have to fundamentally alter the way you structure your day and your week.
In fact, when you learn and master the ways to structure your time you will automatically enjoy more A and B time.
Let me share with you a powerful concept to help you get more A and B time, and to minimize the D time that gets in the way.
I call this technique “Focus Days” and “Push Days.”
Let me share with you the way I use it in my own life.
Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays are my Push Days. These are the days that I “push” key projects and the “work” I do forward–step-by-step. These are the days I am accessible by phone and email. These are the days I hold many of my phone meetings.
On these days I “get stuff done” and move projects forward.
I have set aside my Tuesdays and Thursdays as my Focus Days. These days I turn off the phones and email for the majority of the day, and focus on doing the highest value activities I can for my businesses. For me that usually means I am writing on these days. I’m writing new books; I’m writing sales copy; I’m writing strategic plans for my teams to implement.
In fact, I often leave the office and work remotely these days. I go to a library and write there. Or I go to a café and work there. (I find that removes the temptation to do C and D work that seems to live in every corner of my office.)
Here’s the most amazing part–I can accomplish HUGE results in 3 to 4 hours on my Focus Days that I never would have accomplished if I stayed in the office “doing” the work all day long.
(In case you’re wondering, I often will check in at the end of the day for 30-45 minutes to answer the most important phone messages or email.)
Now maybe you can’t set aside two full days a week as Focus Days, but you can find one day a week, or at the very least HALF a day a week as your Focus Day.
There are so many other ideas I want to share with you about how to master your use of time. Ideas like creating “Prime Time” blocks to get more B and C things done on your Push Days. Or, how to leverage a personal assistant so that you accomplish more with much less effort. Or, how to handle the infoload of email, project notes, to do’s, etc that threatens to drown most people.
But I am running out of space and time.