How to Get More Done in Less Time

One of my favorite things to do back out on the farm is to take ol’ Bally the Dog for a swim. Now the great thing about chocolate labs is that they are up for a good swim 365 days a year, even in the dead of winter. So we’ll go for a long walk twice a day, where he chases assorted varmints and I listen to a marketing and personal growth audio programs on my CD player. (Yes, I seriously still use a portable CD player.)

Recently, as I listened to a Dan Kennedy program, I was reminded of how important it is to be ruthless with your time, especially when you are your own boss as an entrepreneur, writer, or freelancer.

Time is money. And you can never get time back. Today I want to tell you a little bit about how I manage my time and get more done than the average person.

As I’ve become more successful in the past decade, I’ve learned to be firm with my time. I avoid unnecessary meetings, have eliminated almost all phone calls, and stick to a schedule that provides me maximum productivity. After all, with the demands from Early to Rise, the ETR Transformation Contest, and Turbulence Training, I have a lot of work to get done each day. And that requires being what I call, “politically incorrect” with time management.

Now honestly, I think a time-efficient mindset is one that we all should have. For example, we should all make sure that 10-minute work phone calls do not become a 30-minute social conversation. We need to set boundaries from the outset, and stick to them.

Your politically incorrect approach to time management might upset a few people, but it will likely get respect from a lot more that realize how valuable your time is. Do not hesitate to be ruthless with your time…it’s your life.

As I tried to explain in my most popular article ever about the Rules I Live By, we need to adopt a set of rules in our lives that will create an environment conducive to more accomplishment and less stress. I discovered this valuable approach during my journey from personal trainer to entrepreneur.

Back in 2003 when I was a full-time personal trainer working on my web business “on the side,” I would get up at 4:30 a.m. to work for 20 minutes before heading to my first 6 a.m. client.

And in those focused 20 minutes, I was able to get 2 hours of work done. What I mean is that those 20 minutes of working without interruption produced the same content and quality of work I would have produced at 8 p.m. after a long day of work. Getting that work done first thing in the morning was crucial to my progress.
After all, you can have amazing ideas, but if you don’t implement, take action, and get the work done, you’ll struggle.

So today, let’s review a few Politically-Incorrect Time Management Strategies.

Tip 1: Do not answer the phone or immediately respond to emails

When building your website business, you need to be strict about creating blocks of creative time when you can work on projects. Answering every phone call or email disturbs your work and flow, and doubles the length of time to get stuff done.

Be ruthless. Set rules. Have a block of time for communication and make it known to those who contact you on a regular basis. The more productive you can be during your workday means you’ll have more quality time to spend with your family and friends.

Tip 2: Do not allow people to “drop by”

Again, you must stop the interruptions. After all, what important person drops everything to receive unexpected visitors?

Is Donald Trump going to see you when you pop by the Trump Tower to check out his boardroom? Of course not. And while neither of us are Trump, we have projects that are just as important (to us) as he does to him.

Set your rules. Block your time. Bar the door.

Tip 3: Do not set expectations you can’t meet

Quick and easy access to you is an expectation that cannot be permanently met as your website business grows. While you might want to return every email immediately and personally, understand that as your website begins to get exponentially more sales and traffic, you simply won’t be able to answer every email. So be careful about the precedents you set to avoid future disappointment.

Tip 4: Respond to emails at a particular time and make that known to everyone who emails you

It’s very simple. Answer all of your emails at the end of the day. This prevents unnecessary email conversations from growing. Most emails – even the ones that seem to be emergencies – are not emergencies. Don’t train people to expect immediate responses from you. In fact, train them to expect a response at a given time every day.

Tip 5: Script Your Day

At the end of every working day, script out your next day. It’s very simple. You should have a template that you can insert specific projects into. For example, here’s the updated template I use today:

4:30 a.m.-Writing (No Internet Access)

6-Dog walk (almost always listening to educational CDs)

7-Writing (No Internet Access)

8-Exercise

9-Post-workout break, Facebook QnA, check daily business stats, blog, & walk dog (again)

10-Writing and ETR daily call with Jeff Schneider, our COO

12-Lunch, respond to email and walk dog

2-Email Writing and Product Creation

4-Read my Daily Dozen Documents & do my Gratitude journaling

4:30-Respond to email and script next day

5-Big dog walk to end the day

6-Time with friends, family, and time to re-charge

Scripting your day is a simple, powerful, and politically incorrect exercise that will make you more productive and get you closer to your dreams, faster.

Some folks might be offended that you won’t drop everything to hear their tales of woe, or commiserate with them about life’s injustices, but remember, it’s your time, it’s your life, and it’s your dreams you are after.

Take charge of your life and your time.

[Ed. Note. Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and author of Financial Independence Monthly and Turbulence Training. He is also the co-creator of the Early to Rise $100,000 Transformation Contest. Though this round of the Transformation Contest has closed it’s not too late to access to all the helpful tools and advice that helped many people make a positive change in their lives. Get started on your major life transformations today.]
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  • Craig,

    Conceptually, I am in total agreement with you regarding time management.

    Where I differ with you is in the one-size-fits-all approach.

    For those of us in B to B sales (in the “trenches” as it were), immediate response is a pre-requesite to success. Gone are the days when a speedy response was a call-back the following day or that afternoon.

    I have lost business to competitors because I wasn’t the first one to respond to a text message request for quotation.

    I have established and reestablished protocols for myself and my company with regards to responsivenes. A sales career demands no less than complete empathy with your clients/prospective clients.

    The game has changed, and the double edged sword of technology forces us to adapt continually to remain relevant.

  • Hey Craig, awesome article. For the first time tonight I am scheduling tomorrow’s day, and I’m feeling good about this. I have a question though: I’m curious if you set a strict number of hours per day for leisure and work. For instance, do you not allow yourself to work more than a certain number of hours a day? As an entrepreneur how do you decide when to call it a day?

    Thanks!

    Jason

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Jason, it’s all based on the to-do list. Certain things must get done before an entrepreneur can call it a day. How much you work depends on how much you must get done.