What is your time worth?
How many times have you wished you could clone yourself? If you're an entrepreneur, that's probably a daily fantasy. Whether it's a mundane task you don't want to perform or perhaps something you just don't have the time or concentration for, the average entrepreneur probably fantasizes about being able to Xerox themselves on a daily basis.
While it's unlikely you'll be booking your cloning appointment anytime soon, you may be able to realize some of the desired benefits with some creative thinking and research. By investing a little extra time in auditing your to-do list, you can not only squeeze more hours into your day but also improve your quality of life AND production in the process.
What is your time worth? Most entrepreneurs feel that their time is worth more than their paycheck reflects, so it'd be safe to round up before you put that price tag on your hour. I'd argue that any entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur should value their hour at a minimum of $100. Regardless of what you feel your hour is worth, you need to recognize how expensive it is to spend your time inefficiently. While it's easy to see what it'd cost you to outsource a task, you need to be focusing on what it's costing you to not.
My business partner and I are big fans of Timothy Ferriss and his concept of maximizing efficiency in the execution of objectives. We feel any menial task that doesn't require our unique skill set, personality or presence should be considered a time-suck and examined for optimization. We’re always looking for time-sucks we can eliminate, automate, delegate or aggregate in order to save time and thereby money.
Our main project, FitFoodFresh.com, was created out of the need we felt as busy, health-conscious professionals who didn't have the time to shop, cook, or wash dishes. Our growing member base, which ranges from college students to billionaires, shows it's not just busy bachelors who need a more intelligent way to get their meals. I like to say we sell convenience by the meal because that’s what I feel is the first priority for our members. Every day, it seems like there's a new app or service popping up that can be leveraged to make your life a little more convenient -- Washe, TaskRabbit, UberEats, etc. I's just a matter of finding the right ones for you and your to-do list. We use a four-step process (“EADA”) that immediately identifies mundane tasks that are taking away from your revenue earning capabilities, and will implement action to curtail inefficiency.
Eliminate, automate, delegate, aggregate
What tasks do you just not need to perform anymore? These may be hard to recognize initially, but they are arguably the best pieces of fat to trim since you’re not just reducing the expense associated to the task, you’re removing it completely. Does this HAVE to be done? Is this an unnecessary redundancy or duplication of effort?
The most common ways to automate things these days is with software. Whether you’re having an API (Application Program Interface) automatically enter a web-form inquiry as a lead in your CRM or just having Google Alerts send you articles on that new cryptocurrency you’ve been wanting to keep an eye on, trimming minutes here and there is what this is all about.
Just because you know how to change your own oil doesn’t mean you have to do it. Let’s say it only takes you an hour to buy the oil and filter, jack up your car, roll under it, drain the oil, replace the filter, fill her back up, dispose of the oil and wash up… That’s at least $100 you just paid instead of driving to Jiffy Lube and letting a pro do it while you sat in the AC and knocked out emails on their Wifi.
If you’ve absolutely got to do it, try to do it with same/similar tasks. If there are emails that only you feel you can answer, save them for a chunk of time dedicated to just emailing. If you need to have weekly meetings with 3 different departments, consider combining them or scheduling them consecutively. “Shifting gears” mentally is not only a hidden time-suck, but it’s an energy expenditure that it behooves us to avoid. Scheduling all your meetings on Wednesdays allows you to be “out of the pocket” the other 4 days without having to worry about rushing back to the office.
The most rewarding tasks to run through the EADA filter are repetitive ones. Things that you do daily or weekly are high-value targets as they’re the most consistently taxing. Eating, house cleaning, buying groceries, washing your car, doing laundry, dog walking… these are common personal tasks that we can outsource before we even dive into tightening up our workday. High performing individuals like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are notorious for wearing essentially the same clothing every day and even eating the same meals just to avoid decision fatigue and the time wasted choosing between the blue polo or black turtleneck. What may be minutes each day becomes a significant sum when you look at months, years and decades of repetition.
As you go about your day, start making a habit of reviewing your own efficiency critically. We often get into a pattern of doing things just because we’re used to doing them, and that failure to assess and question ourselves can be costly. Your objective shouldn’t be to make and keep the most amount of money, but rather to free up the most amount of time. Choosing to spend that time with friends and family, enjoying a hobby, or pushing a project forward is up to you, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ability to have THAT decision to make over all the others.