C-Suite Advisory

The REAL Value Of Your Time, The $20/hr. Trap

Mitche Graf

QUESTION- What is the value of 1 hour of your time?

Today, we are covering a topic that I feel sometimes gets overlooked by most CEO’s and entrepreneurs. Not because it isn’t important, but because we get caught up in the shtuff that makes up our businesses or our job responsibilities. I want to talk about what VALUE you place on your job performance, and your time.

I believe that each one of us wishes we had more time in our days. If someone were to ask you how things were going, my bet is that you would say something like, “Man, I’ve been so busy”, or “I don’t seem to have enough time to get everything done.” 

On Friday afternoon, we are filled with excitement about all the wonderful things we will accomplish on the weekend. Then Sunday night rolls around and we wonder where the weekend went! There are two types of people on this planet: Those who squander their time, and those who make every second count.

The first type simply waits for the time to pass. For them, the time-lapse is often an annoyance they simply can’t wait to end. The example is anxiously waiting for the working hours to pass. We’ve all been there before!

The second type makes every passing second count, instead of just waiting for the sand to slip through the narrow funnel, they live with a pathological intent and never allow time to pass unnoticed. For them, time-lapse is a living process and they always strive to be active participants in it. 

Effective time management is the one thing that separates top performers from the herd and allows them to reach higher ground. Now, there’s a profound difference between time management and not caring about anything else beyond the current interest. And while we’ve developed a neat way to track time, it’s beyond our capabilities to absolutely control it. We can, however, induce a certain, necessary level of control over the chaos of our lives. This means controlling our most precious asset, time, to our best abilities.

We cannot earn more of it or save it as we do with money or commodities. It is slipping away with every breath we take. The only thing we can do, in between our breaths, is control how and on what we are spending that time on. 

In one of my previous articles, I talked about how to apply the Graf 95/5 Principle to your life. To remind you, it refers to the fact that 95% of our results are derived from the top 5% of our activities…and the biggest challenge we each have is to identify that 5%, then work methodically day after day to get rid of the other 95% of our activities.

Earlier in my entrepreneur career, I made a living in the world of professional photography, travelling the world teaching the finer points of business. Today, it seems like everyone, and their brother’s friend’s aunt’s sister is now a “photographer,” which has put a big crunch on those who have been professionally trained. Weekend warriors and soccer moms have taken the industry by storm with their $500 cameras and smartphones. 

Professional photographers are addicted to their computers and workflows. Image processing that used to be handled by professional color labs are now being done by the photographers themselves, adding significantly more hours to their already long work week.

In photography, only three things make money: shooting, selling, and marketing. That’s it! Retouching a digital file doesn’t fall under any of those categories, but this digital process is consuming many pros. Why? Because they think it saves money, and they know how to do it. A deadly combination.

It’s easy for us to dispose of things we dread and despise, but what about the things we’re attached to? This makes it a lot harder because our emotions are involved. Photographers who spend eight hours on a Sunday editing and retouching files from Saturday’s wedding are attached to an outdated method of running a business. In the open market, the job of a digital retoucher is $15-$20/hour. If a professional photographer were asked if they would be willing to work for $15-$20/hour, they would laugh in your face! 

Well, if they are doing their own retouching…

Instead of outsourcing the job to someone to free up their valuable time, they choose to do it themselves because they’re emotionally attached to the digital process or mistakenly think they’re saving money.

Can you think of some tasks that you are emotionally attached to, that you KNOW you shouldn’t be doing? Spend some time with a good cup of coffee and brainstorm for a while.

In the world of entrepreneurship, there are three levels of value- 

“Time Value Pyramid”-

  • $15-$20/hr.- the tasks that keep your business moving forward like answering the phone, responding to e-mails, processing orders, assembling products, managing social media responses, 
  • $50-$100/hr.- the day-to-day management of your business, setting sales goals and objectives, personnel management and training, etc.
  • $500-$1000/hr.- constructing the long-range goals of the company, creating the broad strokes, and crafting the overall vision. This is where YOU should be spending most of your precious time.

I can tell you this without any hesitation. Doing $15-$20 worth of work per hour is NOT what business owners should be doing with their time, whatever industry you are in!

Here’s an exercise that I want you to undertake this week. I encourage you to sit down and write down a list of tasks that fall into each of these categories…. write down your businesses $15-$20/hr. work, your $50-$100/hr. work, and your $500-$1000/hr. work. This may be a little painful for some of you…. that’s ok. It’s all part of being an efficient executive. Remember, just because you know how to do something does NOT mean that you should be doing that task.

I want you to ask yourself these three questions………. 

#1- Can the task be eliminated? There are activities that you do, or your staff does, that simply can go away forever, and it won’t change your ability to deliver high quality products and services to your customers.  

#2- Can the task be delegated to someone else…either within your organization, or a virtual assistant or private contractor. For 1-man bands out there, you have a tremendous treasure trove of resources available on the internet that can free up a large chunk of your time so you can focus on the high-value items that will bring you the biggest results. 

#3- Can a task be automated? You find yourself constantly replying to emails….and you include a long-winded URL or email address in the body of your email. Using something as simple as a Text Expander will make you much more efficient, which in turn will free up more time during your day.

Once this exercise is done, you should have a list of tasks that can be eliminated, delegated, or automated…. leaving you with only the cream de la crème of tasks left for YOU to spend your valuable time on.

This way of thinking may challenge the way you’re used to running your business, but I can tell you that your business will be revolutionized by quantum leaps if you begin to entertain the idea of redesigning your thought processes.

When it comes to managing my time daily, I like to engage what I call The POD System. Every activity is entered into a category, assigned a block of time, and placed on my schedule.

One trick that I always do is at the end of each week is to sit down and plan the following week. I have some things that are in my schedule book for weeks and months in advance, and I’m sure your schedule book looks the same way, but the day-to-day tasks that are necessary to keep the ship afloat are where the ultimate success lies.

On Monday morning, I have my game plan already in place and can be much more productive than simply allowing the wind to dictate where my time is spent.

For example, the first two hours of your day should always be “Your time.” This includes listening to music or a podcast, hitting the treadmill, exercising, reading a book, drinking a good cup of coffee, and reviewing your goals for the day, or whatever gets your creative juices flowing!

For me, this POD of time is embedded in my schedule book, and I don’t allow anything to interrupt me during this time…as much as possible. I make sure I do not get distracted by email, texts, social media timelines or notifications, and so on.

It’s very important that this first POD of the day be completely controlled by you and that you’re not reacting to anything the world is dishing out. There will be plenty of time later for the world, trust me! For me, this first POD of time is typically from 4-6am each day, including my days off. This is MY time and I work very hard to NOT get sucked into any outside forces.

Now, this strategy is dependent upon asserting your ability to keep outside influences from interrupting you. If you’re in the middle of your personal POD, don’t spend time on your phone looking at work emails or checking online orders. If you’re in your Revenue POD, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by checking your Facebook timeline or looking up a recipe for tonight’s dessert.

It’s like putting out a virtual “DO NOT DISTURB” sign around your brain, then working like crazy to stay on the course. Always keep in mind the nagging question: Does this activity or task help me attain my ultimate business and lifestyle goals? 

In the evening, take a few moments and rewind your day. See what you’ve missed. See what you’ve miscalculated. Understand your routine. Recall all those seemingly insignificant events you failed to predict that caused time losses. After a while, you’ll start noticing how a vast number of such events repeat themselves day after day. To become a master of your schedule, you will need to be laser-focused on the most important tasks that bring the biggest results…Your own 95/5 list.

Meet my long-time friend Bob, an entrepreneur who started out doing things the hard way, but then turned smart instead. We’ll use him as a real-life example of how a single man can disrupt a global paradigm. 

Just like you, Bob always dreamed of owning his own business. Eventually, he quit his job and invested some money starting his professional lawn care company. He purchased a new lawnmower, rakes, wheelbarrows, gloves, and other items needed to be successful with his new venture. At that point, Bob was the only employee and in charge of not only mowing all the lawns, but also marketing, networking, sales, website design, payables, and other tasks.

To his own surprise, Bob managed to pick up several clients over a short time and eventually nearly filled up his schedule with recurring jobs every week. Not bad for a new business, but Bob knew how to work hard and smart.

One day, he received a call from the local shopping mall asking if he’d be interested in taking over the contract for their landscape maintenance.

After meeting with management, Bob figured that he would need to spend all his time during the week at the mall just to fulfill the contract. That meant that all his other clients would have to wait. 

On the flip side, the contract would exactly double his weekly revenue, so Bob had a hard time with the decision. Let’s say there is a big hopper or vat that has three different sections: Delegation, Elimination, and Automation.

For the sake of the argument, let’s put Bob’s new opportunity into the hopper. 

  • Can Bob delegate the job to someone else? He could potentially hire a new employee to manage only the mall contract or manage private residence contracts. That’s certainly a possibility.
  • Can he simply turn down the contract and eliminate the possibility altogether? Absolutely. But it depends on what Bob’s ultimate goals are for growing his business.
  • Can he streamline and automate the task? Bob could purchase a larger lawnmower allowing him to finish his jobs much quicker, thus freeing up valuable time to oversee more work. Great possibility!

When Bob sat down to look at all his options, he remembered that his goal was to expand his business and hire employees, thus giving him more time to grow the business.

Most importantly, this strategy would give him more time to spend with his family.

Hence, Bob decided to bring on another employee and purchased a bigger lawnmower to manage the larger jobs. This freed up more time and allowed him to pick up five more commercial contracts.

 

The bottom line is, simply asking straightforward questions can potentially revolutionize your business. Therefore, give yourself the creative freedom and passion to think out-of-the-box. You’ll be amazed at what can transpire.

Today, Bob lives and works his version the perfect lifestyle, and just like you should, he loves every moment of it.

You will be able to get twice as much done in ½ the amount of time. I called this “4Xing” your life! It’s a very straight forward and simple formula but one that will require constant attention if you are going to become a master.

By automating, delegating and eliminating your daily tasks in an uber-efficient way, you will be able to free up a substantial amount of time in your day. This time can be re-invested into the 5% of your tasks that bring you 95% of your positive results or can be spent that time sitting on your back deck staring at the trees…your choice!


Written by Mitche Graf.
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Mitche Graf
Lifestyle entrepreneur, best-selling author, serial entrepreneur, international-renowned business speaker, 2-time nationally-syndicated radio show host, and former All American Track & Field athlete Mitche Graf has been a passionate serial entrepreneur for over 35 years, dangling his toes into the ponds of many intriguing industries along the way. He spends much of his time looking for ways to work smarter, not harder, so he can spend more time doing and enjoying the things in life that are most important to him.


Mitche Graf is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.