The Way To Get More Clients Is To Be LESS Popular

popular

We all want to be popular. We want as many people as possible to like us and to love our work. But what if that desire stops us from attracting our best clients? What if we allow it to change how we act and what we do? What if that desire stops us from getting the most out of our talents and turning our ordinary work into spectacular art?

Planning our work so it pleases the largest number of people possible often has us censor ourselves, and usually stops us from doing something amazing. –Greg Knapp

But, Greg, I need people to buy my work. I need to make money.

Hey, I feel you, bro. You’re in business to make money. Absolutely. And you do need to make sure there’s a market for what you’re producing. But, here’s the irony. When we try to make our work popular with everybody we usually end up earning less than when we follow our passion, be authentic, allow our personality to shine through, and do inspired work.

Sure, we’ll be less popular with everyone. But the people who love us, will really love us. They will keep coming back and buying what we have to offer. They will tell all their friends about us.

Because we connected with them. Because they know, like, and trust us.

When you do what moves you, you move others and the money will follow. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than trying to do what you think people want!

It’s why I put my stupid jokes and GIFs in my blog. If you think that’s unprofessional and so you don’t want to work with me, that’s ok. We probably wouldn’t work well together anyway.

If you like my blog posts, we’ll probably get along great! Let’s talk!

Why try to make everyone a client and deal with the hassles of the people you don’t really jibe with? That’s how you end up with 20% of your clients taking up 80% of your time and driving you crazy in the process.

Pablo Picasso was an excellent artist from a young age. But did you know he was classically trained and painted landscapes early in his career? He could have stuck with that and made a good living. But he was inspired to experiment and helped create the Cubism movement.

picasso

Not everyone liked his abstract paintings. You could say they were “less popular.” But he was doing the work he really cared about and the people who did like them really liked them. In fact, at the time of his death, Picasso’s net worth was estimated to be $50 million. (He was an artist who didn’t have to wait until he died to make money!)

Not bad for being less popular, eh?

When you keep doing your best work your way you will start attracting clients who love you.

When you’re authentic in your interactions with others (real and virutal) you will start attracting clients who love you.

Questions for comment: Where have you been pulling back on the type of work you really want to do because you’re worried you will lose customers? Could it be that’s what’s holding you back from bigger success?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

How to Get Started in 15 Minutes Or Less – For Real

(4 Quick Wins!)

challenge accepted_gif

You have big ideas, big plans, huge goals! But, first you have to check your email…again. Hey, your daughter needs help with her homework. The lawn isn’t going to mow itself, you know. Your desk is so disorganized, you won’t be able to get anything done until you fix that. Hey, it’s time to update your LinkedIn profile…and check Facebook.

Why do we procrastinate from the things we know will make our lives so much better? Why is it so hard to get started on something we really want to do? What can we do about it?

1) Make sure you really want it.

The first thing to do is make sure this is something you really want to do. Are you procrastinating because this idea/plan/project/goal doesn’t line up with your values? Is it really your Passionate Purpose? If it isn’t, why are you planning to do it?

(Of course, sometimes you just have to get something done – whether you want to or not – whether you like the task or not.)

If you know this is what you really want, then what is stopping you? Is it a physical, emotional, or mental reason? You need to drill down and ask the question behind the question on what’s getting in your way.

Once you’ve decided you definitely want to do this, move to step two.

2) Only work on it for 15 minutes.

What? I won’t get anything important done in 15 minutes. That makes no sense!

Hey, I used to think that. But then I thought to myself, “Self, I can get a lot more done in 15 minutes than I can get done in zero minutes.” (Sometimes I’m really smart when I talk to myself.)

Sometimes we have trouble getting started because it just seems like too big of a task. Research shows our minds tend to focus on all the difficulties and complexities of a project or task before we start to do it. So, we tend to avoid starting big projects.

Last week my youngest daughter was a perfect example of this. She was having a self-pity party over all the homework, projects, and studying for finals she had to do. She went on for several minutes and even began to cry.

We then acknowledged she had a lot of work to do, but that getting started is the hardest part. We then organized her work, decided what to do when, and came up with a manageable plan. Then we decided she would work on her first project for 15 minutes and take a break. The idea was to just get started, then she would see it wasn’t as hard as she thought.

It worked great! She ended up working much longer on it and didn’t even realize she had gone past her 15 minutes. It dawned on her that it wasn’t as hard as she thought and that she was getting a lot done.

You aren’t going to finish in 15 minutes, but that’s not the point. We’re just trying to get started. We’re taking action so we can get going. Then we’ll work on the things we need to do to keep going and finish.

3) Use the Zeigarnik Effect

Ah, yes, the Zeigfarkle..the Zeegurn…the what now? the Zeigarnik (zī-ˈgär-nik) Effect. It’s the tendency to remember projects/tasks/goals that you haven’t completed. In fact, research shows your mind keeps coming back to uncompleted tasks. So, once you get started on what you really want to do, your mind has a tendency to keep coming back to it until you complete it.

Isn’t that great? It’s almost like someone designed us to get important things done. Hmm….wonder who might have done that…

So once you get started – even if it’s just for 15 minutes – your brain will keep pulling you back until you finish. Awesome!

I’m using this a lot right now. As I’m ramping up my professional and personal development business I often feel overwhelmed. I have big ideas for my speaking, coaching, and podcasting. I’m working on creating online podcasting and coaching courses. I’m helping small businesses create and edit podcasts to attract their ideal clients and grow their brand. I’m constantly learning new ways to market digiatally and have big plans I need to start implementing.

Each of these ideas will take a lot of work. Many of them will require me to do things I’m not quite sure how to do yet. So, I sometimes find myself doing busywork instead of getting started.

Boo!

boo2

But, once I start, I get on a roll.

Yay!

yay


I’ve found the 15 minute trick I used with my daughter works with me as well. Just do it for 15 minutes. I can do anything for 15 minutes. Then I tend to keep going.

4) Break it Down

Another great technique is to break down the task into smaller bites and just do one bite. Your little successes will lead to big ones.

You don’t need to know how to do it all before you start. Get started and you’ll learn what you need as you go.

Questions for comments:

What do you do to get started?

Which of these techniques have helped you?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

What To Do With Your Next Great Idea

And what NOT to do with it.

idea

Have you ever had the perfect idea? What did you do with it? Did it change the world? Did it make you super successful in every meaning of the word? Or, did something else happen?

Last night I had a dream. I came up with a perfect idea. I have a strategy to save these ideas. I keep my phone right next to my bed. When I have an idea in the middle of the night, I record it into my phone. The problem is that when I listen to it in the morning it often sounds like, “Don’t forget to oxenfrter the blktmite and grnxl prkngrp.”

Awesome.

awesome

This time it was even worse. I couldn’t wake myself up enough to make the audio note. Instead, I told myself in my dream/wake state to remember this perfect idea…

And I forgot it.
So I can’t act on it.
So it wasn’t a perfect idea.

What perfect ideas have you gotten that you’ve never acted on? No matter how great they were, they are worth precisely nothing because you didn’t act on them.

It’s not too late. If you had a perfect idea – act on it today. The next time you have a perfect idea, or even just a good one – take action right away! That’s the only time ideas actually count.

You don’t have to know how to get from A to Z on your idea. Don’t let that stop you from taking action. What is ONE thing you can do to get started on your idea today? Do it now! Once you take action, your idea takes on a life of its own. Now you can cultivate it and grow it. Take some kind of action on it every day until you decide if it’s an idea worth pursuing.

Now excuse me while I try to translate my midnight brilliance from my smart phone. (This isn’t going to end well – maybe something like an idea for brussel sprout ice cream. I’ll keep you posted.)

Questions for comments: What great idea have you not acted on that you could start acting on today?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

How I Lost Two Hours of My Life

(And how to make sure that doesn't happen to you)

wasting-your-time


I lost two hours of my life yesterday. How did I let this happen? I give presentations on how to Do Less and Achieve More. I’ve read countless books on personal growth, productivity, and time management. I know how to focus on what’s essential in my life and business…and I wasted two hours of my life yesterday.

I work from home in the mornings and I had great plans on important things to do. But, first I decided I needed to merge my domain email with my Gmail account — 40 minutes gone.

Next, I decided I needed to upload the video of my daughter’s theatre performance to YouTube. My phone didn’t sync with my Mac, so I had to download a program – 30 minutes gone.

Then I noticed a few hundred photos on my phone that were taking up space so I decided I needed to upload select photos from my phone to my Mac – another 20 minutes gone.

And so it went:

  • Send YouTube video I created to a contact (and watch some of my old ones) – 30 minutes
  • Check and reply to FB messages and notifications – 10 minutes
  • Check my LinkedIn account and reply to messages – 10 minutes
  • Renew my library books online – 5 minutes

I finally shook myself and realized that although I felt like I was working I had spent almost 2 hours doing absolutely no work on my most important thing. Not good. I felt like the Office Space stapler guy mumbling about stuff no one cares about.

stapler

I hadn’t planned well, and I wasn’t even sticking to my not so great plan. It wasn’t that the things I was doing were bad, it’s just that they were taking me away from the essential things I really wanted to get done.

Focus, Grasshopper, focus.

At the end of the day we’re usually tired. If we’ve run around all day chasing our tail, putting out fires and just doing “work” we will experience an empty, dissatisfied, frustrated kind of tired.

If we focus on what’s essential and make great progress on that, we will experience a job well done, life is good, now I’ve earned some relaxation time kind of tired.

Here’s how to make sure you don’t lose hours from your life every day:

“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?'”
— Marcus Aurelius

Focus on your most important thing:

At the end of your work day plan out what you’re going to do tomorrow. Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I can do today that will have the biggest impact on my life and work?”

Focusing on the most important thing we need to do is the key to a productive, rewarding day.

In the book, The One Thing, Garry Keller talks about setting aside time every day for your most important work. I call it your Concentrated Focus Time.

The best time to do this is first thing in the morning. Even is you’re not a morning person, the best time to get uninterrupted alone time is the morning. Most successful people do their best work in the morning.

Imagine getting up at 5am and having two hours to focus on your most important thing for the day. You don’t even have to feel guilty that you aren’t with you family because they’re still asleep! If that doesn’t work for you, can you get to work a little early and set up the first two hours there to focus on your most important work?

You might think this is nuts, but once you try it and see the results you are going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Rules for CF time

Explain to your manager and coworkers why you’re creating this special time. Let them know it’s so you can work more effectivley and efficiently at your most essential work, that it’s only for two hours each morning, that (except for emergencies) you won’t take any calls/emails/meetings during this time, and that you will immediately check in and be available again when the two hours are up.

Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I can do today that will have the biggest impact on my life and work?”

Do that first.

I know sometimes, “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most  important activities or something will always “come up.”

During these 2 hours there are no interruptions.

• Close your door if you have one.
• Put a “Deep in concentrated focus time out at ______ (time)” Post-it note outside your office or cubicle.
• Close all email programs.
• Mute all chimes, ringers, and pings.
• Turn off visual alerts and social media messaging.

Set a timer for one hour.

Do nothing else except your most important thing. When the timer goes off, take a break to stretch, walk around the building (or up and down the stairs),  and just clear your mind and think for 10 minutes.

Then repeat the process. Do it for 2 hours of each morning.

We all work hard and it seems like there’s always more work to be done. Focusing for a limited period of time on our most essential work leads to amazing results. Just give it a try for two weeks and email me how it goes.

Let’s GO!

Questions for comments: How do you stay focused on your plan?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Why You Should Quit More

Let me explain...

Quitter

Quitters never win and winners never quit, right? WRONG! Greg, you’re freaking me out again. Don’t you preach you  should never give up? Now you’re telling me it’s OK to quit? Did you get a little too much gas at the dentist? Take an early and often trip to Magaritaville? Are you just plain losin’ it?

Slow down, speed racer, let me explain.

I understand the conventional wisdom is that you should never give up once you’ve set your mind to something. I agree with that – to a point.

But there’s a big difference between giving up and deciding to quit something. If you stop working towards what you know is your Passionate Purpose because it’s too hard, or someone talked you out of it, or you got sidetracked on unimportant things, or you had to watch the Game of Thrones marathon so you finally know what everyone’s talking about, that’s giving up. That’s what I hope you won’t do.

If, however, you are trying out new things to see what fits on you, to see what excites you, and what you might want to go deeper on, it’s perfectly OK to stop doing something once you find out you truly don’t enjoy it.

How will you know what you really like if you don’t try it? I don’t want you to feel like once you try something new you can never quit or you’re a failure. That might stop you from trying awesome things. And how can you keep being awesome if you stop trying awesome things?

(Who’s awesome? YOU’RE AWES…ok, sorry, got carried away.)

giphy

What if you discover what you’re struggling with isn’t really your Passionate Purpose after all? What if you realize you’re trying to do what you think you’re supposed to do. What if you’re actually trying to live out the dream your parents had for your life, or you’re trying to please someone else? Wouldn’t it be crazy to keep pursuing someone else’s goals?

How do you know the difference between giving up and quitting? Here’s what I do and what I make my children do. If you want to try something new, like a new project, job, career, sport, instrument, dance lessons, etc. determine a set amount of time that you are going to continue trying it no matter what. (A rule of thumb is six months to a year.) If you decide you don’t like it at the end of your trial period, you can quit without being a “quitter.”

You aren’t quitting because you can’t stick with something. You did stick with it. You did what you set out to do. You learned it wasn’t a good fit for you and now you’re moving on to something else.

If it is a good fit for you, keep doing it! Start going deeper. You’re on your way.

Remember, you can try a new job or business without quitting your old one. You can ease into it. You don’t have to GO BIG right away. You don’t have to take a big leap and risk everything. You can take baby steps to get started. But you must take action and get started. Do it today!

Question for comments: When’s the last time you tried something new to see if it was a good fit? How did you know?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

8 Steps For Dealing With Haters

And we all have haters

haters

‘Cause the players gonna play…And the haters gonna hate…Baby, I’m just gonna shake it off. — Taylor Swift

Man that guy is a jerk! I can’t believe how he talked to me about my work. I wish I’d had a snappy comeback to put him in his place. He got me so upset I’m still mad about it. I wish I could just let it go, but it’s eating me up inside.

Have you ever felt like that? I have more times than I care to admit. Since the dawn of time a few things have been true: The sun will rise in the east, your bread will land butter side down, and haters gonna hate.

We’ve all been there. It’s part of life. But how we react to these situations is up to us.

My daughter Summer came home from school the other day upset. I asked her what happened and she went into a long story about how a girl at school was mean to her, said some awful things, and was generally annoying. After I empathized with her, I started to ask her some questions.

Do you like this girl?
No.

Do you care what she thinks about you?
No. Not really.

When did this happen?
First period.

Do you want to be upset all day long?
No.

Summer, this happened in the morning and got you upset. It’s now 4:40 in the afternoon and your still letting it upset you.

Do you want to let this person you don’t even like – or care what she thinks of you – ruin your entire day?
No.

Do you want to give her that power over you?
No!

I love reframing the haters this way. Haters don’t have the power to do anything to us – unless we give them that power over us.

(Remember, we’re talking about haters who just want to tear us down, not people who are giving us construtive criticism. We should all be willing to listen to people we respect and make changes to get better at what we do.)

The best way to counter-attack a hater is to make it blatantly obvious that their attack has had no impact on you. – Tim Ferris

OK, Greg, I’m with you. I don’t want to let this jerk control me, but how do I let it go?

Great question, mi amigo, I love where your heads at. Here’s the plan:

  1. Realize that you are in control of how you react to the hate. You get to decide if you’re going to continue to be angry, sad, hurt, or whatever because of what happened earlier. He can’t make you feel bad unless you let him.
  2. Understand the fact you have a hater means you are probably doing something right and/or significant. People who are just muddling along in mediocrity don’t usually have haters. Use that as fuel to focus on your important work and to remind yourself that you are not going to let anyone stop you from reaching your goals. Quite often haters are jealous of what you’re doing. Or, your success makes them feel bad about themselves, so they try to drag you down in the hopes this will make them feel better. Sometimes it’s even a subconscious thing for the hater.
  3. Decide if you care what he thinks of you. (If it’s a stranger, or someone you don’t care about, it’s a lot easier to let it go.)
  4. Decide if there is any validity to the criticism of you or your work. Every once in a while a hater is on to something.
  5. Decide what role you played in the conflict and if there was anything you could have done differently. Sometimes you’re actually in the wrong. (I’m sure that’s rare, though, right? Ha!)
  6. Write down your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Sometimes it helps to write the person an email telling him exactly how you feel. DON’T SEND IT. This is just to get your feelings down so you can let it go and think about something else.
  7. Review some of the successes you’ve had in similar situations. How many times have you achieved things haters told you that you could never do? Think about all the people who praise you for what you do. Take a minute to be grateful for at least 3 things that are going well today. Write those down. (Trust me, that really helps.)
  8. Tell yourself you are not going to give the hater the power to ruin one more second of your day. Actively decide to let it go. If thoughts about the conflict come up again, simply acknowledge them and let them flow right out of your head.

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

I Know This Works

And I keep forgetting to do it. Doh!

forget

My personal experience continually proves to me that goal setting works. Writing my goals down is crucial. Creating a plan and taking daily action to achieve those goals gets me there even faster. Have your experiences led you to the same conclusions?

We also know that most people rarely even begin this process and those of us who do, don’t always follow through.

I’m giving a speech on this next week and while I was writing it, rewriting it, and rehearsing it I realized I’m not practicing what I preach.

  • I’m not reading my top 3 goals every morning and every night.
  • My daily, weekly, and monthly plans aren’t keeping up with my goals.
  • My written goals are out of date.
  • I’m doing a lot of things on the fly and it’s slowing me down.

Has this ever happened to you? We know this stuff works, but we get caught up in everyday living and things start to slide.

How long has it been since you took a few hours, gotten away from all distractions and figured out what you really want? How long since you wrote it down, wrote down your plan to get there, and started taking action every day? It’s worth the time.

I just did this again yesterday. I want to help you do it, too.

I’m continually working on my leadership and employee engagement speaking business so I created this goal:

“I am so thankful that I am serving and helping people by giving 2 speeches a month to organizations and associations for $$$$ each on 10/12/2019, or something even better.”

I made my goal:

  • Grateful
  • Specific and definite
  • Measurable 
  • Stated in the present tense as if you already have it
  • Positive With a deadline
  • Open to something even better that you might not have thought of

Then I created daily, weekly, and montly plans of action. I will continue to tweak them depending on how I’m doing at reaching my goal.

 

I’m recommiting to reading my top 3 goals every morning and every night. It keeps me focused and it keeps my mind thinking of new ways to make my goals become my reality.

Action steps:

1) Schedule four hours and a special place to go where no one will bother you.
2) Download the worksheets in my my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.
3) Decide what you really want
4) Create your top 3 goals – and break those down into easier to achieve mini-goals
5) Create action plans to go with your goals
6) Take one action step at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
7) Celebrate each mini-goal achievement.
8) Keep tweaking your goals and action plans to get you to your goals faster.
9) Let’s GO!

Questions for comments: Do you notice a difference in your life when you have written goals and written plans to achieve them? What’s different?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

STOP Trying to Please Everyone

superserve your raving fans instead

eggshells

We all know trying to please everyone is impossible, so why do we feel like failures when some people don’t like what we do? Why do we compromise on what we know would be our best work, in order to try to please a few more people? Why do we walk on eggshells trying to make sure we don’t say or do something “wrong”? Why are we so worried about what everyone else thinks? Why is it that even if 99% of the people we serve like what we do, we focus on the 1% who don’t?

I think it’s because we all want to be liked and we were raised to be polite. But being polite doesn’t mean you have to stop speaking the truth, giving your opinion, and displaying who you are. This used to be a huge struggle for me, and it still gets me when I don’t work on it.

When I give my presentations and seminars I want to keep the audience engaged and entertained. I want them in a state that allows them to easily pick up and use the ideas, takeaways, and action steps I’m giving them.

So I keep my eye on the reactions in the room. When I see people smiling, nodding, sitting up straight, reacting to what I’m saying, and responding to my questions I’m feeling good. But then I see someone looking at their phone – someone in the back just got up and left. My mind starts telling me stories:

“Greg, you’re blowing it. People are bored. They’re checking their email. That one person thinks you’re so bad that he got up and left! Why did you ever think you were a good speaker? You should give this up!” (That’s some real good self talk, isn’t it? I was killing my energy with my own thoughts.)

Even if I got a great response at the end of my talk and multiple people came up afterwards and told me how much they enjoyed it, I would still be thinking about the person who looked at their phone and the one who left.

Worrying about pleasing everyone in the room made me question everything I was doing and was hurting my ability to be a great speaker.

A friend helped me. He said, “Greg, no matter where you speak and no matter how great a speaker you are, you are never going to reach everyone. And you have to make peace with that. If you connect with 80% of the audience and help them get the outcome they were looking for, then you’ve done your job well.”

I also realized that if I tried to please everyone I would have to change my style, my personality, and maybe even my message. I would end up with a watered down, vanilla, luke warm thing that no one would really like anyway. So why not do what I love to do, in my style, and please my ideal audience and myself?

Then I had an epiphany at one of my events. During my hour long presentation there was a guy near the front who had a harsh look on his face. He often had his arms folded across his chest. At times he would pick up his phone and it looked like he was texting or checking his emails. I thought the guy hated my talk and I had to quit looking at him because he was freaking me out.

But after it was over he came up to me and told me how much he enjoyed my presentation. He even took notes on his phone for some of my points that he really liked. He couldn’t wait to try out some of my ideas in his business. Wait, WHAT?! That guy liked my talk? Maybe I should stop trying to read people’s minds and just do the best presentation I can do. That’s all I can do. Then it’s up to the audience to decide how they respond.

And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I still let the people who don’t like my stuff get me down a little. But, I focus on the people who do like it and I keep finding better ways to serve them.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s time to STOP trying to please everyone. It’s time to try something different. Let’s figure out who we care the most about, who shares our values and give them our very best. Let’s get loyal, evangelical customers for life instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator who will drop us if the wind blows funny.

I’d rather have a smaller group of raving fans that I don’t have to constantly chase for repeat business, wouldn’t you?

Raving fans are special. They:

  • Feel like they’re part of your family
  • Tell everyone about you
  • Stick with you
  • Buy from you even when you’re not having a sale
  • Never go anywhere else

I’ve found that developing raving fans makes it easier to really enjoy what you do and increase your profits than trying to be all things to all people. It also comes with some extra bonuses. You get to love what you do and that leads to doing your best work. The hope is that you become so good at your work that to your raving fans, and to yourself, your work becomes art.

Questions for comments: How do you decide whom to please? How has narrowing your focus helped you?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Unlimited Vacation. No Internal Email. No Annual Review. WHAT?!

Under New Management author interview - podcast

5_UnderNewManagement

How would you like to work for a company that lets you take as much vacation as you want, bans internal email, does away with the annual performance review, and truly puts the employees welfare first?

Those are some of the idea’s in Under New Management, by David Burkus.

I had a chance to interview David about these ideas. He said many of our long standing business practices are counterproductive, wrong and misguided. It’s time to change the way we do things.

Click below to here the interview.

 

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

7 Steps To Having More Time For What You Want To Do

time_saving

Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? The place to start is to figure out how you currently spend your time. And that is the precise way to talk about time. We spend it.

I agree with Franklin to a point.

But, Greg, you said you were going to give me steps to have more time. Now you’re telling me you can’t make time. Come on!

We can’t make time, but we can invest and spend it wisely and free up our time for what’s most important. That’s what we’re going to do.

But, before you spend time being efficient, make sure you’re being effective – at what’s important to you. Are you spending most of your time on what you want to become and do? Let’s find out.

Step 1) Keep a log of how you spend your work and leisure time for one full week.

Greg, you’re killing me! We’re talking about how little time we have and you want me to use some of it logging how I spend it?

Yes! Trust me a little. You will be shocked at some of the things you are spending your time on.

Write down how you spend every minute of the day — everything — sleeping, getting ready for work, commute time, how much time you spend on different tasks at work, (including talking with colleagues, water cooler, etc.) lunch, dinner, family time, television, email, web surfing, social media, golf, workouts, going out with friends, church, phone calls, etc. I know it can be tiresome to do this, but we’re only doing it for one week to see where your time goes.

At the end of the week, review your list. Which activities on your list do you like doing? Which ones do you dislike doing? Which ones are you really good at? Which ones are a struggle for you?

Step 2) Avoid Time Sucks

Take a look at your list. What are you doing that is truly a waste of time? We all need to relax and recharge, but are you doing it purposefully? Be strategic in your choices and look at all the extra time you will have to do the things that really matter to you.

Time Sucks:

  • TV – Americans watch an average of four hours of TV a day. Don’t channel surf. Plan the few shows you actually want to watch. Don’t just chill and watch Netflix, search for a specific movie or show to watch once or twice a week. Or, just don’t watch it at all. (I know it sounds crazy, but if you try it for a week, you will be shocked at how much time is freed up for better things.)
  • Internet – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. How many funny cat videos do you need to watch? Do you really need to see what your “friend” had for lunch? Schedule your Internet time and set a timer when you log on.
  • Email – Everything doesn’t have to be responded to the second you receive it. This can distract you from your important focus and turn your day into a series of reactions. What if you made this the signature of your email? “In order to be as efficient as possible, I only check my email at 11:00am and at 4:30pm. If there is an emergency this policy doesn’t take care of, you may call me.” (Some of you are saying, No way can I only answer email twice a day! Maybe, maybe not. Send out an all staff email explaining why you are doing it. Try it for 2 weeks. If it really doesn’t work for you, how about checking email only 3 times a day. How would that improve your life?)

Eliminate, Automate, Delegate, and Negotiate.

These are concepts we all have dabbled with. I like how Jennifer White describes them in her book, Work Less, Make More. We will get into these one at a time.

Step 3) Eliminate:

Look at the list you made on how you’ve been spending your time. What can you eliminate to create more time for what energizes and excites you? If you’re about to say nothing, then you need to look again. All of us do some nonessential activities.

Remember the 80/20 rule: Twenty percent of our activities produce eighty percent of our results. So let’s get rid of some of the stuff that doesn’t work.

If you’re really worried you’ll miss something try this. Stop doing a few of the activities you think might not be very important and see what happens. Did anyone notice? Did you really lose anything?

What do you do to fill time and feel productive instead of doing what you know you need to do? Stop doing that. It’s simple, and very effective.

I bet 20-50% of what you are currently doing you don’t need to do. You have to say no to the good so you can say YES to the great. That’s one of the ways to get more time.

Step 4) Automate:

What do you do every day, week, or month that could be automated? With your smart phone and laptop you have more power than kings used to have.

Research what software programs and apps can help you automate.

Many of them are free and save you a ton of time. Here are just a few ideas for apps and software that help automate tasks and save you time:

Create email templates.

Certain types of emails are required frequently. Write a great thank you email and save it as a template for the next time you need one. You can then spend just a minute or two personalizing it and you’re hitting send. Sweet.

Do the same thing for every type of email you tend to write repeatedly. Huge time saver.

Cluster.

A close cousin to automation is clustering, grouping, or batching. This is where you take your simple tasks and do them all at the same time instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your day. I do this with email, snail mail, voice mail, and more. I create all my tweets and Facebook posts at one time and schedule them via Hootsuite to go out at different times throughout the week. I spend one day working on ideas for several blog posts.

What tasks can you use clustering with?

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”-Thoreau

Step 5) Delegate:

Check your list of how you are currently spending your time again and look for the tasks that need to get done that you either don’t like to do, you aren’t good at doing, or just aren’t the best use of your time. How many of these tasks could you delegate to someone else?

Almost all of us could delegate more. Why don’t we? Is it because we think no one can do it as well as we can? Sometimes, that’s true. But, often that’s because we don’t invest the time to train someone to do it the way we want it done.

Have you ever tried to delegate something, spent a couple of minutes explaining what you want and then gotten upset when the results weren’t what you were hoping for? Well, you need to take responsibility for that. If you spend the time necessary to explain and train them so they are able to do the task better than you can (yes, I said better than you can – it’s possible) you will save so much more time from that point on. It’s an investment and it’s worth it.

You also have to let go of the idea that the way you do it is the only “right” way to do it. As long as the job gets done well, who cares if a different way was used to get there?

Another reason we don’t delegate as much as we should is we don’t have the staff to handle it.

Here are a couple options: If you work for someone else, go to your boss and explain how much more productive and profitable you can be for the company if she could help you delegate these tasks to someone better fitted for them. Offer to do this on a trial basis so she can see how much more productive you will be on the things that matter most. Once you prove yourself, she will have no problem letting you delegate more.

If you’re self-employed, why not outsource like the big boys do? There are a ton of outsourcing companies in and out of the United States that can do virtually anything you need done. I listed several of these in a previous post. I’ve used outsourcing for many different tasks and have been very pleased with the cost, quality, and speed of the work. I recommend using a company with many employees rather than one person. That way, if one person quits, gets fired, is on vacation, etc. your work still gets done.

Step 6) Negotiate:

If an offer, opportunity or request comes your way that doesn’t fit your strengths or the best use of your time, don’t immediately say yes to it. Take a little time and figure out the best way to handle it.

Could you simply say no?

Could you explain what part you could do really well and why you think Susan or Bob would be perfect to handle the other part of it?

Could you take on a different project in exchange for the one that doesn’t fit you?

When you explain how this negotiation will help everyone, you will be surprised how often your counteroffer is accepted.

Step 7) Spend 80% of your time doing what you do best and what you love to do.

Congratulations. You have cleared away so much from your life that you don’t really need to do. You still have the same 24 hours in every day, but now you have much more control over how you will use them. You can focus on what you do and like best.

Here’s a great way to plan out each workday:

In the evening prepare for your next day. Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done tomorrow would make the biggest difference to your business? Decide on it.

Getting this one thing done would make your day a success. That’s what we’re looking for here. IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done? IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done?

The next day:

  • Do your most important thing until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for anything that requires your attention. Then repeat the process.
  • If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

Step 8) Bonus step: Celebrate a great day!

Go for a walk with your spouse. Read a book to your kids. Go out for dinner. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

Let’s GO!

Questions for comments: What strategies do you use to help you have more time for what’s most important to you?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.