“I realized that I had a decision to make: I could either spend less time with my children so I can work on my business, or I could learn to work smarter and become incredibly efficient with the time I did have to work.” – Pat Flynn, Entrepreneur Dad
Easy Simple Time Management Tips
This article is not long. This is because the concepts are simple.
Don’t be fooled, however.
Just because they’re simple, it doesn’t mean they’re easy.
Often, the simplest things are the most difficult.
You have the same 24 hours in your day as the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. Thus, efforts to get more time have diminishing returns over time. There’s only so many hours you can squeeze out of your day before you start destroying your body through lack of sleep or your family through total absence.
We don’t want either of those things so with the limited time we can get out of our day, we have to start using it better. Here’s seven ways to make that happen:
1. Eat the Frog
In his book on procrastination and productivity, Bryan Tracy explains that Mark Twain once said that if you ate a live frog first thing in the morning, the rest of the day would seem great by comparison.
He extrapolates that concept by adding that your “frog” should be the biggest and most important task you’ll do all day. The one you’re most likely to put off out of fear of completion or shear difficulty.
Tracy also advises not to waste time looking at the frog as you’re more likely to back out and if you have two frogs to eat, eat the ugliest one first. What a beautiful metaphor.
Tim Ferriss hints at this as well by adding that if you were to only get that single task done, your day would still be a success.
2. Put the Big Rocks In First
Stephen Covey has a similar theory that I love where he discusses having large and small rocks that can be put into a vessel. The large rocks are our big, most important tasks and the small rocks are our day-to-day and/or valueless tasks.
When the small rocks are placed in first, the jar fills quickly and there’s no room left for the big rocks. However, when the larger rocks are placed in first, and then the small rocks are poured over them, they’re all to fall in the gaps. Thus, all of the rocks are able to fit into the vessel.
The truth is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first during your day, they’ll never all fit.
3. First Things First
Yes, I’m going to exhaust this point.
Stephen Covey lays out a great decision making matrix in his book FIrst Things First.
I’ll be honest, even my own eyes glaze over a bit when I say things like ‘Decision making matrix,’ so let me explain.
Place yours tasks into a grid that has Urgent / Not Urgent on one side and Important / Not Important on the other. The tasks that are both Urgent and Important are done first, following by the Not Urgent / Important tasks.
This keeps us from spending our best energy on things that are urgent but not important. Whenever you’re laying out what you’ll do today (or preferably laying out your next week on Saturday or Sunday), plan out all of your big tasks by asking two short questions:
- Is this important?
- Is this urgent?
If it’s neither, but must be done, hire somebody to take care of it so you can focus on the larger tasks in your business.
You’ll find this quickly eliminates all doubt as to whether you’re doing work that matters.
I highly recommend the first thing to outsource is graphics creation. I know it’s fun, but unless you’re an artist, it’s not going to drive your business forward.
If somebody else can do something 80% as well as you can, delegate it.
4. Do Something You Love
I know it’s so disgustingly cliche, but it’s true. We all love different things. Somebody people love freedom and some people love money.
I know guys that get up day after day and sell real estate and they have zero passion for it. But they have a passion for money and all that goes with it.
As an entrepreneur dad, however, we know we can’t just do things solely for money.
Doing work you hate day in and day out isn’t the kind of legacy we want to leave out kids. It’s not what we’d want for them, either.
When you’re doing something you love, you’ll work harder, achieve better focus, and you’ll be infinitely less likely to be distracted or procrastinate.
5. The Pareto Principle
This one is going to take a bit more homework, but it’s massive once you figure it out.
You have to answer two questions:
“What 20% of your tasks are causing 80% of your headaches?”
“What 20% of your tasks are bringing in 80% of your revenue?”
The 20% of tasks that cause the majority of your headaches, the things you absolutely hate doing, need to be outsourced right away. For me, this was printing shipping labels. I resisted for a long time because I felt like it was private information or something I couldn’t teach somebody else to do.
I felt like nobody could print shipping labels exactly how I could.
I’ll let that sink in for a second.
Sounds ridiculous, right?
6. Outsource the things you hate. Do it today.
Next, look at your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the numbers you look at to look at factors that are key to your business’s continued success. They could be members/users, sales, revenue, followers, etc. You could have different KPIs for marketing, sales, traffic, etc.
Breaking down the data from those KPIs and seeing what is causing the largest gain in all of them is essential if you want to focus your effort on the things that truly matter. We aren’t in the wild west ‘Mad Men’ days of advertising where if we ran an ad and sales went up, we gave credit to the ad campaign. With all of the technology and sophistication we have available to use, we can find out where our traffic, sales, followers, etc. are coming from. Going deeper into this is a bit outside the scope of this book, but if you suck with analytics, like I do, you can use a simple hack that I used in my Jiu Jitsu business.
For my jiu jitsu company, I use discount codes to track where sales are coming from. I do this for a few reasons that aren’t relevant here, but what is, is I can see where it’s most important to spend my time. I have a discount code in my forum signature that get’s used <5 times per month and I have over 8,000 posts there.
I also have a discount code that I use on the sidebar of my BJJ Gi Reviews blog. That code gets used roughly 100x more than the forum code. Thus, I should be spending infinitely more time getting to my website than posting on the forum.
There are a myriad of ways to track this, and this is only one example. If you’re more handy with your site’s analytics, they’ll be incredibly helpful as well. This applies to sales, email signups, site traffic, and literally every metric you use in your business.
I realized that once I stopped caring about the results and focused on the process, especially working in that 20% that gives me 80% of my results, my business exploded. Once I realized that for every 40 emails I sent out to potential sponsors for my jiu jitsu website, I’d land roughly $1,000 in sponsorships, I focused on sending more emails.
Rookie Mistake: Even if you’ve outsourced the things you hate, that don’t bring in revenue, you also have to look at the things that you like, that you shouldn’t be doing. For me, this was creating blog graphics for my Jiu Jitsu blog. I love playing in Canva and Pablo and creating beautiful typography, but it was a total waste of time as they weren’t KPIs and were not responsible for the revenue that I needed to put food on the table for my family. Eliminate the things you hate, and also the things you love, but shouldn’t be spending time on. Offering an internship or trading services is a great way to get those tasks done if you’re just starting out and don’t have money to pay somebody.
7. Focus on Your Strengths
This is something that I’ve always felt and have heard articulated very clearly by Gary Vaynerchuk, a fellow entrepreneur dad that I appreciate and find great value in.
There’s a great chance you’re good at a bunch of things, bad at a few, and strong in a few as well.
By emphasizing what you’re good at rather than spending your time in areas that you’re weak, you’ll free yourself up to become an amazing somebody instead of a jack-of-all-trades nobody.
If you’re bad at writing email copy, instead of spending a week working on your autoresponder, reading articles, or watching courses on it, just hire somebody to handle it. If you hate being on camera or speaking, don’t start a YouTube channel or podcast just because it’s ‘the hot thing.’
When I wanted to learn how to get more email signups, I checked out Noah Kagan’s sites because I know he’s amazing at that. When I wanted to work on getting more clarity on my coaching, I looked up Michael Port. In neither case would I have considered a generic site or product that covered everything. They chose to focus on one thing and played to their strengths. So should you.
Strengths give you more leverage and leverage is the name of the game when you, like me, have limited time.
The Hustle&Heart Productivity Fundamentals Course
If you have tried all of these options, or need to take your productivity to a new level, check our my Productivity course just for entrepreneur dads, Hustle&Heart’s Productivity Fundamentals.