David Gass Leadership BlogFueling Leaders for Today
“One thing you can’t buy is more time.”
This is a common phrase heard throughout the world, “one thing you can’t buy is more time,” but I’m here to disagree. I believe you can buy more time for yourself, your family, or your business. You can get more hours in a day to provide the opportunity to spend time on the activities and with the people most important in your life.
Just imagine gaining an extra 4 hours every day to do whatever you want. It’s possible. At one point in my life, I needed more time and wished I had it. However, wishing for something has never helped me. Nor will it ever get you anything. Stop wishing for things and do what I did, take action.
How do I get more hours in a day?
In September 2001, I was 11 months into starting a new business venture, my first daughter was 15 months old, and we just moved into a new home the business was being run from. My wife, Melinda, was working full time for Bellagio Resort in catering where she often worked 45 days straight without a day off. The hours were really long, but she made the commitment to do the job for me to fulfill my dream of building a successful business. The new business venture was starting to really take off, and we hired our first two employees that September. To say that time was a commodity I didn’t have is an understatement.
“How do I get more hours in a day” was a common question. Out of sanity and necessity, I developed a system to help create more time. In following the system over the next few years, I was able to create time for my family and build an amazing relationship with my daughter. I believe this system is why my first daughter and I have such a tremendous relationship today. Also, I was growing a successful business that in the next few years would be on the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. not once, but three years in a row.
I’m here to disagree with those who still say that “one thing you can’t buy is more time.” The system I came up with to create more time is called, of all things, “TIME.” Yep, real creative I know. Here it is…
How to Buy More Time
The system “TIME,” for buying more time for yourself, consists of five strategies. Each strategy is built around leveraging something from others. Leveraging other people’s time, other people’s intellect, other people’s money, and other people’s experience. By leveraging other people’s resources you “buy” more time for yourself.
The key is to make sure when you do leverage resources of others there’s a benefit for them as well. For example, you can leverage other people’s time by paying them. You can leverage other people’s money by paying them interest.
The first strategy is to leverage other people’s “TIME.” By using other people’s time you give yourself the ability to focus your activities on what’s most important for you. Three common ways to leverage other people’s time is to:
- Hire employees
- Pay individuals or companies to do common tasks you shouldn’t be doing
- Give undervalued tasks to others
For this strategy to work, you need first to write down how much your time is worth and then you need to write out a list of everything you do. Then you look for opportunities to use the strategies above to move those tasks to someone else.
How to Determine How Much Your Time is Worth
To determine how much your time is worth, here is a simple formula:
Total Income Last Year / 2080 = Your hourly worth
The number 2080 is equal to 40 hours a week times 52 weeks in the year.
When calculating your total income you should look at more than just what your salary or hourly pay is. If you’re self-employed, you can’t rely on just what your paycheck says. Calculate everything. This step is very important and you should take the time to calculate it. An easy way to pull the numbers together is to look at your tax return from last year. Add up all the income before deductions. We are looking at wages, bonuses, commissions, interest, capital gains, dividends, etc. If you are self-employed then you should also add in all the benefits you take as expenses in your company that isn’t normally added to your tax return. Maybe your company pays your vehicle expense, travel, health care costs. Add all those together and use it for the Total Income Last Year part of the formula.
For example, let’s say your total income last year was $150,000. Take $150,000 divided by 2080. That gives you $72.11. This is the hourly rate you earn if you were to work a 40 hour work week.
The $72.11 amount is used to determine if you should outsource certain activities or not. When going through your list of tasks, ask the question, “Is this activity something I could pay someone less than $72.11 to do and if so why am I not”?
Put Together List of Activities
The next step is to put together a complete list of all activities you are doing now. Don’t take the short cut here. The short cut is the least effective way to do this step, which is sit down and try and think of everything you do. When you do that you’re likely to add things to the list that you “want” to do or think you “should” be doing, but really never do. Instead, write down everything you do as you do it. Every 30 minutes for a full month put in your phone or write on a piece of paper or add it to your calendar, exactly what you did the last 30 minutes. There are a couple of great apps that help you track your time; one is I Done This and the other is Timely.
By writing down what you did after the fact you will get a much better picture of where you are really spending your time. You will also be very surprised to see how much time you are spending on certain activities that you never thought would be. When I’m managing a team of people I ask them to track everything they do every 30 minutes for 2-3 weeks and repeat that every quarter. It’s a great exercise that always uncovers some activities that can be reassigned and frees up time for them.
After calculating how much your time is worth and where you are spending your time, you now have what’s needed to move on to the next step.
Determine Where To Spend Your Time
Now you need to determine what’s the most valuable use of your time.
Look at your list of activities for work and see where you can leverage employees’ time. One of the challenges many new leaders face in giving up some tasks is the myth that “no one can do this as well as I can.” Thus, the task is never given to anyone else and the leader continues to spend time doing things you shouldn’t. I teach the leaders I work with to not expect everyone to do their tasks as well as them. Don’t expect that anyone can do things the way you do. Instead, accept 80% of what you would have done. Be willing to live with 80% success on the task and don’t dwell on the 20% that didn’t happen the way you would have done it. By moving tasks off your work list during the day you’re going to find more valuable projects to focus your attention on. You’re going to also find that you can hire people for a lot less than what you are earning and just show them the SOP (standard operating procedure) you created for them to do the work. You may even find some employees who will find improvements and efficiencies in the process that you didn’t think of. Don’t get caught in the trap of “I don’t have the money.”
By moving tasks off your work list during the day you’re going to find more valuable projects to focus your attention on and the time to do them. You’re going to also find that you can hire people for a lot less than what you are earning and just show them the SOP (standard operating procedure) you created for them to do the work. You may even find some employees who will discover improvements and efficiencies in the process that you didn’t think of. Don’t get caught in the trap of “I don’t have the money.”
Also, don’t get caught in the trap of “I don’t have the money”. I’ve worked with too many entrepreneurs who say they don’t have the money to pay anyone to do the work and so they need to do it themselves. The truth is, you don’t have the money or time not to hire someone. The cash balance in your account may dip for a brief period when you bring in a new employee, but if you are focusing your time on the right things, then you will build back those cash balances quickly.
Next, look at personal activities where you spend your time and determine if you can hire a service or someone to do it for you. For example, can you hire someone to do the yard work, grocery shopping, cooking, etc? Now, if you enjoy cooking or yard work and it’s very therapeutic for you to do so, then don’t give it up. This would be an area that you see as fun and need to keep that type of activity. Continue to do those activities and find others. In addition to hiring a service to do certain tasks, you can also utilize child labor. Yep, your kids. Why do the dishes every night when your kids should be doing it? Why take out the garbage, feed the pets, or do the laundry? All of these household chores can be done by your kids if you have them. If not, then a service works too.
Keep in mind the opportunity cost of using a service to do some of the work for you. For example, I used to clean my pool each week. I would spend about an hour cleaning it, adding chemicals and running to the pool store to test the water. I did this four times a month. I hated it. It was something I really didn’t want to do and shouldn’t have been doing based on the fact that I could hire someone for $150 per month. That’s $37.50 per hour to have someone else clean the pool. With my hourly earning rate significantly higher than that it was a no-brainer to hire someone. Now I have an extra hour a week I didn’t have before, although it cost me $37.50 I’m more than fine with it. The extra hour is now spent playing in the pool with the kids, great father-daughter time, something that’s way more valuable than $37.50.
Leveraging other people’s intellect is the ability to be humble and know that you don’t know everything. For leaders who have a little too big of an ego here’s a quote for you:
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.
Be humble and recognize there are people who are more intelligent and in some cases more educated than you when it comes to specific tasks. One of the first Operations Manager I hired for one of my companies was a “Nuclear Engineer.” He had a degree in nuclear engineering and was incredibly smart. He was able to problem solve operational issues in the company with extreme efficiency, where it would have likely taken me twice as long to figure out. I saved time and money by recognizing my weaknesses and hiring him to run the operations.
Leverage other people’s money.There are two ways to leverage other people’s money in a business, through debt or equity. There can be a combination of the two as well but for the sake of the discussion let’s just stick with debt and equity.
I’ll be the first to say that taking on debt 90% of the time is a bad thing. However, there is the other 10% where I would encourage people to take on debt. To determine if you should take on debt I would ask these questions:
- Will the debt be used to invest in other people’s time(hiring new employees)?
- Will the debt be used to invest in training or resources that will immediately provide an increase in revenue?
- Will the debt be used to purchase inventory on sales we have orders for?
- Will the debt be used to invest in anything else that has a high likelihood of increasing revenue?
By answering yes to these questions you increase the likelihood of actually increasing revenue. The more confident you are about increasing revenue through the use of the debt the more I would recommend taking on debt. The key is to pay off the debt as soon as you can.
The alternative to taking on debt when using other people’s money is selling “equity.” To sell equity in your business you need a corporate structure such as an LLC or Corporation. Investors don’t want to waste their time with someone operating a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership. By selling equity, you are selling a percentage of your company. A lot has already been written for the best way to attract investors and structure deals with them. Look online for articles on that. Just keep in mind that selling equity is like getting married. An investor has the ability to be a huge pain in your ass every day or they could be the biggest asset you’ve ever had. So pick wisely.
There are two ways to learn; through your own experience or other people’s experience. When you learn through someone else’s experience you call that a “lesson.” When you learn from your own experience you call that “expensive”.
Two great methods of learning from other people’s experience are Seminars and Mastermind Groups.
Before attending a seminar, conference, or event make sure the speakers have the experience you want to learn from. Don’t waste your time attending an event where people are only sharing theory.
Mastermind groups are extremely helpful and highly recommended just based on my own experiences. I’ve been a member of several mastermind groups with membership in Entrepreneur’s Organization and Vistage International. In Napolean Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich” he details the habits of highly successful people and describes one of the first mastermind groups ever to form. Hill discovered that a “Master Mind” was not only the key to Andrew Carnegie’s success but the secret to the success of all great men and women, the “very foundation stone of all outstanding personal achievements.”
- Calculate Your Hourly Earnings
- Track what you’ve done every 30 minutes for a month
- Develop a list of people you want on your team who are highly intelligent
- Write out a list of what you would do with debt or equity financing and determine if any of those will generate more revenue
- Create a list of events to attend in the next year
- Find a local mastermind group to join