Here are five ways to iden­ti­fy the time killers that are pre­vent­ing you from achiev­ing your goals.


11 min read

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“I wish I went to the UPS store more often.”… said no one ever.

Think for a moment. How many hours have you wast­ed stand­ing in lines, com­plet­ing $10 an hour tasks, stuck in pet­ty argu­ments, and doing work that doesn’t mat­ter and doesn’t dri­ve you clos­er to your ulti­mate vision? How many times have you had to stay late at the office or increase the dead­line on an impor­tant project “just one more time” so that you could get every­thing done?

I don’t ask these ques­tions to make you feel bad. Quite the oppo­site. The point is to inspire you to ele­vate your habits and sys­tems and real­ize, “Well dammit! If I’ve been able to accom­plish so much with such poor time man­age­ment, imag­ine what I can do when I imple­ment bet­ter strate­gies and learn how to make time for what mat­ters most?”

That’s what I’m going to show you. It’s some­thing I call The Bil­lion­aire Time Own­er­ship Matrix and it’s guar­an­teed to help you make more time in your life.

Notice that I didn’t say “find time”. I said, “make time.”

There’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion among high-per­form­ers that you can some­how “find time” for the impor­tant things in life. But you can’t. More time isn’t hid­den under the bed next to your ab rock­er. If you want to get more out of your life and busi­ness, you must make time through ruth­less but sim­ple self-reflec­tion on how you use your time now and how you can improve in the future.

Relat­ed: 10 Time Man­age­ment Tips That Work

To help you with this, I’ve com­piled a list of five sim­ple ques­tions that will help you elim­i­nate 10 hours of work from your sched­ule this week.

I’ve asked the fol­low­ing five ques­tions to thou­sands of my clients, from Hol­ly­wood actors to 9‑figure entre­pre­neurs to pro ath­letes to the world’s no. 1 rodeo star (nope, I’m not kid­ding). And I love see­ing the light turn on in their mind when they final­ly “get it” and real­ize just how sim­ple it is to make time for the things that mat­ter most.

Let’s do the same for you.

1. What do you hate doing?

Bil­lion­aire entre­pre­neur Oprah Win­frey told inter­view­er J.J. McCor­vey that she hates meet­ings. Despite being one of the most suc­cess­ful and acclaimed women on the plan­et, she spends only a few days per month in the office and spends most of her time on her 42-acre estate in Mon­tecito, Cal­i­for­nia (which is two hours away from her HQ).

To stay in the loop, she has her team send detailed email sum­maries with project updates and impor­tant tasks that she can look at on her time.

Think about that. Oprah iden­ti­fied some­thing that she hat­ed and then “made the world play by her rules” sav­ing her­self a ton of time in the process. Now, we’re not Oprah. But we can still apply this same prin­ci­ple in our lives to some degree.

For exam­ple, I hate tak­ing calls in the morn­ing. For years, I thought, “This is just some­thing I have to do” and wast­ed count­less hours of “Mag­ic Time” (the time of day where I’m more focused, pro­duc­tive, and cre­ative than any oth­er time of day) stuck on calls I didn’t enjoy. Even worse, I wast­ed a ton of men­tal and emo­tion­al ener­gy dread­ing the calls the night before: lead­ing to anx­i­ety, insom­nia, and burn out.

Today, I have a sim­ple rule: I don’t take calls before 10 am, ever. End of dis­cus­sion.

Did this incon­ve­nience some of my clients? Yes. Is it some­thing that is absolute­ly nec­es­sary for me to per­form at my best and make big moves in my life and busi­ness? Yes! All I had to do was block my morn­ings for my deep work and move my calls to anoth­er time of day. This imme­di­ate­ly increased my pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

So what is some­thing that you hate doing? And, more impor­tant­ly, how can you elim­i­nate doing it this week so that you can get more done on what mat­ters?

2. What should you stop doing?

Argu­ing on the Inter­net. Watch­ing reruns of The Office for the third time. Rear­rang­ing your office sup­plies in an OCD man­ner. Hav­ing meet­ings about oth­er meet­ings…

We all waste time on mind­less, worth­less, and use­less tasks that do noth­ing for you – and that steal time from you. Think about what hap­pened if you removed these tasks from your sched­ules. Noth­ing would change for the worse. Your busi­ness­es wouldn’t implode. Your fam­i­ly wouldn’t leave you. Your employ­ees prob­a­bly wouldn’t even notice.

In fact, by elim­i­nat­ing these tasks, you would get bet­ter results (because you’d have more ener­gy to focus on the things that mat­ter — and more free time on your cal­en­dar

For exam­ple, think about the last time you attend­ed a meet­ing, event, or cof­fee catch-up out of oblig­a­tion because you didn’t have the guts to say “no”. How many of those were duds? Nine­ty per­cent? Nine­ty-nine?

Think of all the wast­ed time and oppor­tu­ni­ty cost of those deci­sions. It’s not just the 30 min­utes at the café meet­ing a stranger who wants to pick your brain. It’s the com­mute there and back. It’s tran­si­tion­ing out of and back into deep work. It’s the neg­a­tive emo­tion­al state that you car­ry with you for the rest of the day because you knew that meet­ing wasn’t going to be worth your time — and you were right.

Ballantyne’s Law (yes, I made this up) states that for every minute you spend on a use­less task, you’re actu­al­ly los­ing two (if not more) min­utes of your day. This is one of the most impor­tant points this ques­tion must impress upon you.

Relat­ed: 11 Time Man­age­ment Mis­takes You Are Prob­a­bly Mak­ing

It’s not just the time spent doing, it’s also the time spent think­ing about, tran­si­tion­ing to and from, sched­ul­ing, and so on. Add that up and stop­ping all these use­less, time-rob­bing activ­i­ties could save you 15 hours or more per week — not to men­tion a ton of men­tal space when you elim­i­nate this clut­ter.

Stop say­ing “yes” to every shiny object and oppor­tu­ni­ty that comes your way and start ruth­less­ly pro­tect­ing your time. Think about how many hours would that save you each week? Imag­ine how much less stress you’d have, and how much more free time you’d have for your fam­i­ly and fit­ness, or to focus on the projects that could dou­ble your busi­ness.

3. What is not your job?

Bedros Keuil­ian, CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, told Ear­ly to Rise that once lost a $2,500 sale because…wait for it… he chose to fix a sprin­kler on his lawn and hand­ed the sales call off to an assis­tant.

Ouch.

This is an extreme exam­ple of doing things that are not your job. But it doesn’t stop there. Run­ning to the UPS store, fix­ing the print­er in your office, answer­ing all of your cus­tomer ser­vice emails, upload­ing con­tent to social media, and even buy­ing your gro­ceries and prepar­ing your meals is not your job.

Imag­ine War­ren Buf­fett skip­ping a board meet­ing so that he could mow the lawn. Or Sarah Blake­ly spend­ing an hour set­ting up the new con­fer­ence room TV. Or Bill Gates pack­ing box­es to move Microsoft’s HQ, or worse, pack­ing the box­es at home to move house.

It would nev­er hap­pen, right?

This “Not my job” mind­set doesn’t make you a bad or self­ish per­son. It sim­ply makes you some­one who has aligned their actions with their pri­or­i­ties. It allows you to be more effec­tive in your busi­ness while giv­ing you plen­ty of free time to enjoy the fin­er things in life.

Oh, and it allows you to con­tribute to the econ­o­my and cre­ate new jobs by pay­ing oth­er peo­ple (who just want a way to make ends meet) to do the work that doesn’t dri­ve your life for­ward.

Sit down and make a list of how you’ve spent your time over the last two work­days. What did you do that some­one on your team was hired to do? What activ­i­ties do you (irra­tional­ly) refuse to let go? What chores are you doing out of guilt that you hate, should stop, and are not your job?

Be the Oprah of your busi­ness. Start doing the things that only you can do. Imag­ine how far you could go with this Empire Builder approach to your time.

4. What are your distractions?

Be hon­est, what time sucks are you per­son­al­ly respon­si­ble for in your life? Is it Fan­ta­sy Foot­ball? Online Shop­ping? Hap­py Hours? Hang­overs? YouTube moti­va­tion­al videos? Twit­ter polit­i­cal rants?  Lis­ten, we all have dis­trac­tions. Yes, even me.

My friends may call me the “World’s Most Dis­ci­plined Man”, but that’s only because they don’t see me com­pul­sive­ly “killing time” on Insta­gram every night before din­ner. Sure, my mon­key mind jus­ti­fies the behav­ior. After all, I make most of my mon­ey sell­ing on social media so, “It’s ok to check it again…and again…and again.” But I know this dis­trac­tion doesn’t serve me.

And I’ve tak­en strate­gic steps to over­come it and reclaim that time. How?

Well, writ­ing this arti­cle and get­ting pub­lic account­abil­i­ty is one thing that keeps me away from temp­ta­tions. But there are plen­ty of strate­gies you can use to elim­i­nate dis­trac­tions and get con­trol of your time and life.

You could go cold turkey, skip­ping out on the Fan­ta­sy League this year, or giv­ing up drink­ing for 30 days. You could also play the pun­ish­ment game, that if any­one catch­es you lik­ing a Face­book post dur­ing 9–5 work hours that you owe them $20. Even bet­ter is to spend some time in self-reflec­tion and exam­ine what you are run­ning from and why, and fig­ure out how you can lean into your dis­trac­tions and turn that time into accom­plish­ment.

5. If money were no object, how would you fix these problems?

When you sit down and give this ques­tion real thought, the answers will shock you. You’ll quick­ly real­ize that most of the solu­tions to your biggest time and ener­gy sucks need no mon­ey — or less than $50.

Instead, the solu­tions will require you to make hard deci­sions. You’ll need to have dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions (like telling your spouse that they can’t inter­rupt you 50 times a day over triv­ial mat­ters), ask for help, and become a bet­ter leader. You’ll need to find, hire, and train good peo­ple to take over for you and, I’ll be hon­est, it won’t be easy at first. As the say­ing goes, “Old habits die hard.”

Relat­ed: Why Time Is Your Most Impor­tant Busi­ness Resource

And when you start to take con­trol of your life and time, you may strug­gle with feel­ings of guilt and shame. But stick with it. Empires aren’t built by pick­ing up milk at the gro­cery store or spend­ing 5 hours a day in the kitchen (unless, of course, you hap­pen to be a gourmet chef). They are built by doing the things that you and only you can do…and doing them to the best of your abil­i­ty.

“I try to sur­round myself with peo­ple who real­ly know what they’re doing, and give them the free­dom to do it,” Oprah said in an inter­view. The secret to her suc­cess (and your future suc­cess) is in plain sight. If you are under­per­form­ing, over­whelmed, and know that you are capa­ble of so much more, I’ve just hand­ed you a Gold­en Tick­et to 10 hours of time that you can lever­age into your next for­tune.

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