We’re coming up on our 1 year anniversary here at The Loft… our entrepreneur co-workspace I started last year in Downtown Roseburg.
One thing that is very important to me, and is one of the main reasons I’ve made the choice to be an entrepreneur is experiencing new, exciting, fulfilling, interesting, things and places. That’s what life’s all about right?
So, what happened to me yesterday afternoon was pretty cool… and I want the same thing to happen to you Read on…
I opened it up, half expecting it to be some scribble from one of my late-night “idea bursts”… but what I found was even better. Way better.
As I opened it up one crumpled edge at a time, a list… 102 items strong – all handwritten… appeared. Reading through the stuff on that list was inspiring as heck… fun, and got my juices flowing again. The crazy cool thing was that I had accomplished mostly everything on there… this year has been an amazing year in many aspects.
It was the life list I created earlier this year. I usually do a new one every year to keep it fresh.
I had heard about a “life list” a few years back and I immediately grabbed a hold of that idea and knew I’d always keep a life list of some sort. So, whats a life list you ask?
Simple. It’s everything you want to do before you die. I’ve heard it called a bucket list, but I like “life list” better… sounds a bit more positive than “kicking the bucket” lol.
My life list has things all the way from big epic experiences (like skydive over a tropical ocean – which I did earlier this year, fulfilling things like starting a scholarship at my college – which my wife and I did this year, to places I want to go/see like mountain bike in Moab Utah – which I did this year w/ friends)
… to places I want to see (like visiting all 50 states, watch the Masters live, Oktoberfest in Germany, walk the great wall of China, and other places)
… to little fun experiences ( like mastering a surprising cocktail, read 24 books in a year, catch a salmon in Alaska, and help 5 friends or family become free and start their own businesses)
And it’s not just trips and fun stuff… a big hunk of my, currently 102 item life list, is things that truly fulfill me and are a part of what I feel is my purpose. Things like raising $1,000,000 for an awesome charity (I haven’t hit that yet, but will someday), teach a college class on entrepreneurship, finish a tri-athlon, be published in Entrepreneur Magazine for doing something truly amazing, and a bunch of other stuff.
In the end, when I’m 90 years old and look back at my life and ask the questions (as a mentor of mine posed to me) Did I live? Did I love? And Did I matter?
And I want the unequivocal answer to all 3 questions to be an instant YES.
So, now as always I want you to come away from this article with something you can apply in your own life to “live a legendary life”. I want you to come up with your own life list this week.
At first it can be a bit intimidating. It was for me. But, as you’ll find… once you get rolling things just start to flow and it’ll be inspiring as heck.
Now… lets get rolling. Grab two blank white pieces of paper, a pencil… sit in a quiet place and block out a solid hour today – and a couple 30 minute time blocks in other days this week. As you’ll find you’ll get more ideas later this week as you have time to think about it.
What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?
Ask yourself that question. Too many people live day-to-day and never really put much thought into what they really want to do in life. Again, this could be places you want to see, things you want to do, experiences, things that make the story of your life what you truly want it to be.
Grab one of the pieces of paper and write down those categories (it helps me to get creative when I’m given restrictions). Leave some space below each category so you can write stuff below it. Here’s those categories again: Places I want to see/go, Things I want to do, Things I want to experience, Things that will fulfill me.
Next, start writing. Pick one of the categories… usually the “places to see/go” one is the easiest because almost everyone has thought of places in this world they’d love to go. But, as you’re doing it be really specific. Rather than just say “New Zealand”. Say, “New Zealand during summer for 2 months” (or whatever your specific desire is). It helps it become more real.
Spend as much time dreaming as you want. Its your life… you might as well put some thought into what the heck you really want to do while you’re here on this earth. If you get stumped, move to another category… take a break check out a travel/lifestyle magazine/website. Find inspiration.
Now, once you feel you’re done (for now)… grab your 2nd piece of blank paper and with a pencil start writing out the things you had on that first paper. The cool thing here is… on your actual list you don’t have to keep things in categories if you won’t want. I just have my 102 items written out by hand and numbered. There’s no specific order to my list… no specific organization… just a brain dump of what I want to do in life. Once you’re done… awesome. Keep that list and put it somewhere you’ll see it on a daily basis.
Add to it as you think of new things… and cross things off you accomplish as you do them. Your life list should be an ever-changing list of your life broken up into bite-sized experiences. As we get older we have new goals and want to experience new things… so spend time each month or each year looking over your life list and adding to it.
Now, here’s where the real magic comes. The act of writing these things down takes the huge first step in actually doing them. On my last life list I spontaneously wrote “skydive over a tropical ocean”. Then, 1 month after I wrote that down, I got an email from a friend (a fellow entrepreneur) who asked if I wanted to join him on a skydive for charity, ya, then within 2 months, I was 18,000 feet up over the ocean in Florida and loving every second of it. Amazing what happens.
I can’t tell you how amazing the experience of creating a life-list has been for me. I hope it is the same for you. Don’t put this off as something “I’ll do later”. Do it tonight. Don’t put off living. Don’t put off dreaming. If you don’t write down what you want to do in life (from the big stuff to the small trivial stuff) who’s life are you going to live? Who’s dreams are you going to achieve? Probably not yours.
I was reading a study recently (don’t ask me what study because I can’t remember where I saw it that talked about how productivity here in the U.S. has gone down in the last 20 years to the lowest points in our country’s history.
By productivity I mean… how much the average worker (or citizen) gets done in actually producing economic growth each day. In the 50’s our nations productivity was high as heck. People flat got stuff done.
Today, we’re lower than most other large economies in the world.
We “work” more and get less results per person today then we did 60 years ago.
Well, I’ve got one reason… and it’s something you’re probably all too familiar with.
THE MONSTER IN THE ROOM… THAT YOU INVITE INTO YOUR HOME
I’m going to ask you this question and I want you to give an honest answer.
What would you do if someone came into your home every day and interrupted your thinking time and hypnotized you nightly and turned your mind to mush. He sabotaged 40%-80% of your free time away from your job and left you with nothing to show for it. He nagged you, told you all of the things wrong with you and this world, and destroyed your family time because he had almost spell-like control over everyone in your house.
I could go on… but what would you do if this person was staying with you? Would you let them stay forever or kick them out? I would hope you’re saying “I’d kick them out!”.
Well, if you’re like the average American… you’re actually letting this “person” into your house right now… 100% voluntarily and willingly… and even pay a pretty penny for the “privilege” of having them there.
If you haven’t guessed already… I’m talking about TV. Yep, that big box that the average American has in their living-room (all 60 inches of LCD HD glory)… in your bedroom… maybe even in your kitchen and kids rooms.
TV’s are a harmless box by themselves. They just pump out a picture and some sound and keep people entertained.
But, when combined with our human makeup… they’re the most destructive force in your home today to your wealth, health, prosperity, happiness, creativity, and more.
What Is Your TV Costing You Right Now (You’ll Be Surprised)
Now, I’m going to get this out of the way because we have a big ol’ TV on our wall. We watch some TV… more than I’d like. So I’m not saying that TV doesn’t have value. I just want to open your eyes to the destructive power of the TV and how you can double your own productivity and happiness with a few quick steps.
Here’s some stats:
- The average American watches about 7 hours of TV a day. Lets say you’re part of an elite group and “only” watch 3 hours of TV a day.
- Lets say you value your own time at $50/hr (which is low, but is the hourly rate you’d have to make to make $100,000/yr working 40 hours a week).
- Lets say you don’t watch any TV on weekends… just a few hours after work
So, lets do some math now:
- $50 x 3 hours a day = $150 in your time watching TV each day
- $150 x 5 days a week = $750 a week in TV time
- $750 x 52 weeks = $39,000 a year in your time spent watching TV
- Lets assume you lived this life for 50 years (from 20 – 70) = $1,800,000 in your time watching TV
Now, you can see where I’m going with this. All of those assumptions were very conservative. If you watch more than 3 hours of TV (most people do) a day… you should increase your numbers. If you want to make more than $100,000 a year… increase your numbers.
But the amazing and eye opening thing here is… looking conservatively… watching only 3 hours of TV 5 days a week… you’re costing yourself over $1.8 million. And the really scary thing is that if you account for the time… you’re spending over 4 years of your life in front of the TV. Crazy eh? I thought so too when I heard these numbers.
Could You Use An Extra $1.8 Million and 4 Additional Years? Here’s How To Get It
Simple. Do what my wife and I did last year… cancel your cable TV. Yes, it’s going to hurt at first. Your favorite TV shows will be gone. You may have to find other things to do every night and morning (more fun things like actually spend quality time with friends and family, work out, work on your business, read, get stuff done around the house, volunteer, a whole bunch of stuff opens up), and your kids may think you’re the weird family.
If being wealthy and living a happy and fulfilled live is weird… then I’ll take weird over “normal” any day of the week (especially since the normal nowadays is broke and tired).
Once we cancelled our cable, things changed BIG TIME in our marriage, energy, my creativity, my business, and every aspect of life. The only thing I lacked was knowing who was voted off on The Bachelor on Monday nights Take a risk and regain your life and productivity (not to mention the $100/mo in cable fees)
So, question for ya… what if you had to live without checking email for 30 days? I mean… 100% zero email. Not online. Not on your phone. You couldn’t check email at all.
What would you do? Could you even do it with the way things are right now?
185 – That’s a pretty accurate estimate on how many emails I get every day. And the funny thing is that’s a pretty low number compared to the amount of emails other people I know personally get.
In fact, yesterday I was catching up on emails from the previous couple of days and I was in my gmail account for about 3 hours straight… half of my workday (I don’t usually work a full 8 hours. Sometimes less… sometimes much more if I’m working on something big). But being in email for me just feels unproductive, uncreative, and there are probably 139 other things I could think of that I’d rather do with my time… including running down main street naked with a siren strapped to my back (lol).
But, most of us treat email like a newborn baby treats milk. We think we gotta have it otherwise the world will come crashing down around us.
Killing Email – Email Productivity Tips
Before I talk about why I’m considering killing email I want to say that I don’t think email is evil. It’s kinda like TV. It’s a great technology, it does a lot of good, but it’s also like crack… addictive and can put you into a hypnotic like state if you let it…. and destroy your creativity and results.
Yesterday after I spent 3 hours camped inside my inbox “getting a bunch of stuff done” I felt a sense of accomplishment when my inbox got below “10”. But, the thing that I realized is that while my email was down… I didn’t push forward anything truly worthwhile in my life or business during those 3 hours. It was mainly maintenance and responding to other people trying to control my agenda. Plus, right after that high of getting to “inbox zero” was gone… I knew I’d have the same issue 3 days from now. A never-ending cycle… it feels kinda like a hamster wheel you know you will never get to the end of.
So, I now realize something has to be done. And I’m going to experiment w/ killing email (or at least part of it). Here’s why… and how.
7 Reasons To Kill Email
1) It’s highly unproductive – even though you feel like you’re being productive
2) It’s a drain and sucks the life outta me being on email longer than 30 mins a day
3) It’s a great way for other people to assert their own agenda on you
4) It creates a dependency on “instant feedback” for both you and other people
5) It’s a darn rabbit hole… never ends so your mind continually has it in the back as something that has to be done (creating a massive open loop)
6) Turns into a fire-hose of information that just keeps coming, distracting you from what’s really important in business and life.
7) People got along without email just fine for thousands of years… I’m sure we’ll get along just fine without it too.
When you really think about email for what it is, it’s about as important as having a Facebook account is. Yes, it’s cool and can make communicating with people easier… but that’s half of the probem… too many people can too easily communicate with you whether you want it or not.
How To Live Without Checking Email Yourself
Ok, so on my quest over the next 90 days to eliminate email by 95%… I’ve got some ideas on ways I’ll do that. But, when I say “kill email”… I’m not saying delete my email accounts and live the life of a technology hermit. I’m just saying that I’m going to cut the time that I spend on email by 95%.
1) Today I spent 20 minutes unsubscribing from every newsletter (except 2 that I really love and resonate with) and turned off all email notifications from stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Everything. This right here is 60% of my email. It’s now gone. Whew! It feels good already. I’ll keep doing this over the next month every time I get a newsletter in my inbox. It’s goneski forever.
2) I’ve set up in my gmail account automatic filters for emails that I still need but that don’t need to be in my inbox. Things like receipts, emails about certain topics that I can have automatically filtered to my assistant or someone else, my mastermind groups group chatter list, etc. I can just check out the folders once a month and the stuff that’s really important will stand out, the other stuff will seem much less important a month after it came in J
3) Over the next 60 days my assistant and I will be working on setting up systems and responses for common questions… systems for setting up phone appointments for important stuff w/ people (so I don’t get stuck in never ending email threads), and she’ll be taking over the day to day monitoring of my email.
4) I’m transitioning everything over to skype calls or quick chats, phone calls w/ appointments, and training people that they can’t get a hold of me quickly by email… so if it’s actually important they can give me a call.
Now, I know this kinda looks like I’m being a diva. Making people jump through hoops. But the thing is, over the past decade we’ve all given up our own personal freedom. We’ve let technology – which was invented to make our lives easier and happier – overtake us so we rely on them to fill time… rather than to truly make us more productive and happy in life. Would you agree?
So, should I kill email? My decision is yes. I probably won’t be able to 100% kill email. I’ll still check it a couple times a week… but I’ve made the decision that using email as a crutch to fill time and to fill my agenda has to stop. It’ll open up a ton of time, creativity, more personal interactions with the people who matter. Now, I pose you the question… will you kill email with me?
How To Earn 2x More Income and Work 33% Less – Part 2: How To Find People To Do Work For You On The Cheap
When I got started as an entrepreneur and investor I didn’t have a ton of cash to pay people for everything. I had to do a good bit myself still… like mowing the lawns at my properties, doing my books, buying stamps, etc. But, if I would have known what I know now… I would have found someone to do all of that for me years sooner, earning me tens of thousands more (and making life more fun and fulfilling).
FIRST, we need to root out the wrong thoughts you have on “outsourcing” or “hiring” that are holding you back.
1) It’s expensive to pay people to do things
WRONG: It’s more expensive for you waste hours doing a task you could pay someone $8-10/hr to do for you. Your hours should be spent marketing and bringing in revenue, not doing medial tasks. Don’t worry about creating a logo, updating your website, or stuffing letters because it’s “cheaper”. Nope. I’ll show you ways to get it done cheap so youcan spend that time creating new marketing, talking to sellers/buyers, making offers, so you can earn 10x more new income than it costs you to pay for your new outsourced workers.
2) I don’t have any money to pay people
WRONG: I’ve had people work with me for free for up to 3 months before… as interns, or just because they wanted the experience in the real business world. Upwards of 22% of working age Americans don’t have a full-time job right now. They’re motivated to earn anything, and many are motivated to just get any new experience they can put on their resume… even if they don’t get paid for it.
3) I don’t know what I would have people do for me
WRONG: It’s not usually that you don’t have enough things to hand off to other people, its that you’re not CLEAR enough on your goals and what you’re doing (and why) to be clear on what steps you need to be taking in your business… to be clear on what you should be doing yourself (high value stuff that makes you money) and what you should have someone else do. If this is you, you need to get clear on your goals, your “why”, and your specific 30-60-90 day plan for what you need to do in your business. Once you’re clear and your taking action w/ a clear plan… a billion things will show themselves that you need to find someone else to do for you.
4) I hate managing people
WRONG: I read in a book recently, the roles of a leader are to “ predict the future/set the vision and to delegate”. If you’re not charting out the vision and path of your company and delegating tasks to other people… you’re not a leader. If you hate managing people, find someone who you can partner with in your business who can manage people. Or even better, if you’re going to be successful in business and really take hold of your life, you NEED to sharpen your leadership skills. I find working with the right people is actually fun and MORE rewarding than working by myself. The “fear of managing people” I feel is more of a fear that you won’t live up to your or their expectations as a leader… so you blame it on the other people being tough to manage. I’ve done that myself, that’s why I know.
How and Where To Find People On The Cheap
Most people tell you that you need to look “online” on places like elance.com or guru.com. Those are good places for specific things (random low skill web work, decent logos, finding someone to update your website for you, etc.), but I’ve found other places are better. Here are some great places to start.
Small Online Type Tasks – Image editing, editing audios, simple logos, random stuff
- § Fiverr.com – Can get quick image edits, mp3 recordings cleaned up, etc for $5.
- § Craigslist.org – Tons of local people w/o work who can edit videos, post content to your site, help run your facebook and twitter, post properties to listing sites, etc… for under $10/hr.
- § 399design.com – We use them for many of our new sites now. Under $400 and you get great sites and great service
- § Your Local College – If you have a college in your town, find the department in the school that teaches what you need to get done (graphics, writing, web work, etc.) and talk to the teachers in that department, have them refer to you the kids in those classes who want work. I did this, my logos now cost me $45 from a college kid… rather than $300 at a logo service.
Offline / Local Stuff – Personal assistant stuff, stuffing envelopes, mailing things, putting up signs, etc.
- Craigslist.org – Same as above. Tons of off work people eager to do your random tasks for under $10/hr. I have a gal doing my grocery shopping, mailing things, hanging art in my office, etc for only $12/hr. Frees me up to do high value work that earns me money (that I actually love doing)
- Local Networking Groups – Don’t have one? Create one. I hired 2 people recently through referrals from a networking group I created locally for young entrepreneurs. Referrals are the best.
- Local College – College students are looking for internships. Create an internship program (www.internprofits.com shows you how) and submit it to your local college. I’ve done that twice. Free work
- Mentor an Up and Coming Investor – There’s tons of people who want to invest in real estate. If you’ve done a few deals and have a bit of experience, go to the local REIA and find an eager person who wants to learn. Have them work for free for you learning the biz.
I could throw some more places at ya… but truthfully, all of the best people I’ve got to do work for me have come from those places above. The biggest thing is you have to make the mind-shift from what I call “victim hiring” to “empowered hiring”. Too many people are afraid if they hire people, that they’ll train them, only to have that person leave within a few months… wasting your time with them. It’s a valid concern.
The solution is just making sure to truly screen people well.
If you get 4 people that respond to an ad on craigslist to do a video editing project, create a “mini-project” (something easy that will take them maybe an hour or two) and have all 4 do that same project at the same time. Give them all the same specs, the same deadline, and hire the one that does the best. Then create systems in your business so you only train one time ever, then your systems do it all for you in the future. On the next “work less – make more” topic I’ll dive into the simple as heck systems we use in my businesses so I only train once, and our systems take over and do it for me if that person ever leaves my company. Great stuff. That training alone has saved friends of mine well over $10k and countless hours… you’ll get it in the SI Insider issue after next. So, get your goals down now (and your life list), get clear on things, and aim to outsource at least one tiny thing in the next 2 weeks. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t sooner. This alone can cut your work time by 20% or more
Just had an article published on Portfolio.com today. Definitely worth a read for all you entrepreneurs
What was your biggest mistake of 2011? Let me know below.
It was probably 4 years ago… my wife and I lived up in Portland, OR at the time and I was growing my companies (multi-family rental units and my marketing company) mainly working by myself.
You know the gig. I’d wake up, go through my normal “morning routine” (which at the time probably did more harm to my productivity than good), I’d write out my long list of things to do that day,… then I’d get to work doing the things I thought I needed to do.
When you start your own company YOU are the man (or woman). Often times we take on a ton of roles. YOU are the marketer. YOU are the bookkeeper. YOU manage your properties. YOU run errands. YOU are your own website guy. YOU answer every phone call. YOU write thank you notes to people. YOU get your own coffee. YOU drive to properties to check them out. YOU try to make your own logo (don’t tell me you’ve never tried . YOU are the center of your company and YOU do everything.
That’s a heck of a lot of YOU’s.
You see, I did everything in my businesses for almost 2 years thinking I was doing myself a favor by “saving money” and “learning cool skills to have”. Yes, when I first got started, I had NO money, so yes… I had to get creative and doing pretty much everything in my business myself was my only option. But, when I started to make some good profits… a weird thing happened… I was still doing everything.
Yep, I was still hacking away at my websites myself… I was still doing my bookkeeping for my properties and my marketing business… I was still taking tenant calls… I was still going down to the post office to mail letters. I was still doing it all… and was working more than ever (but I felt good about it because I was staying “busy” and thought “busy” = efficient).
Does any of this sound familiar? I bet it does.
Now, fast forward to today.
Today I make 3x – 4x more than I did 4 years ago… and I work literally 1/3 less hours than I did back then when I was working my ass off “saving money” left and right by doing everything myself.
What was the big change? What mind-shift and specific actions did I take that tripled my income and let me work less?
Simple, I figured out what I was truly worth… and started only doing things that paid me what I was worth, which were the top 5% of things I did every day. Sounds too simple right? Do you want to triple your income and work less at the same time? (ha, how fast did you mentally say “yes”?).
Alrighty, now… lets go through the same exercise I went through 4 years ago that helped me make that mindshift and realize what I SHOULD and more importantly… SHOULD NOT be doing in my businesses and life.
First, grab a piece of paper and at the top write down how much money you want to make in the next 12 months. Be realistic and make it attainable… but make it a goal that gets you excited. Just so I can work along w/ ya on this exercise… lets say it’s the nice round number of $100,000.
Next, ideally… how many hours a week do you want to work?
For me, I still work 30-40 hours a week, mainly because I want to. But, before I did this exercise I was working 60+ hours every single week and hating it. For this example lets say you stuck w/ the standard 40 hours a week number.
Now lets do a little math and work backwards to find out how much you’re worth each hour if your goal is to make $100,000/yr working 40 hours a week.
Fancy Dancy Math Time:
40 hours x 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours per year
$100,000 divided by 2,080 hours = $48.07 per hour
So, if you want to make $100,000 per year working 40 hours per week, on average you’ll have to make $48.07 every hour you work. Now of course some hours you’ll make way way more (like when you close a deal)… and some hours you’ll make way way less (like doing random crap tasks you shouldn’t be doing).
So, What Do You Do With This Number Now?
Now that you’ve got your number of what your time is worth if you want to reach those goals… you need to write down all of the things you do every day that can be outsourced to someone else for less than $48.07 (or in your case, the number you came up with for how much your time is worth).
For me it was… the technical side of creating my website or uploading my blog posts… answering phone calls everyday for my business… formatting my letters… going to the post office or running random errands… booking my hotels for my business trips… collecting rent checks and taking tenant calls… doing my bookkeeping… and a bunch of other things that someone else can do for cheaper than my own time is worth.
Now, this is the BIGGIE that you NEED to get 100% to make this work.
While you have other people doing the lower value things for you, you should be doing the things that bring in money for you. Creating a new marketing piece. Meeting with sellers or private lenders. Doing an interview for a new hire. Making offers on properties. Creating systems in your business that other people execute for you. Researching ways to invest your money so it grows. Test new ads and places to advertise. Call your buyers or private lenders to build that relationship. Create a referral campaign to bring in referrals from your current clients. That kind of stuff.
As a rule of thumb, about 90-95% of everything you’re doing right now in your business can (and a good majority of it should) be outsourced. Then that other 5% – 10% should be things that you love to do, are really good at, and directly bring in cash to your business that you focus on.
Now, post that magic number that you came up with in this exercise on your wall… and consciously start to track the things you’re doing over the next week that you know someone else can do for you for less than that number.
Awesome video I stumbled across thanks to a fellow YEC member that takes you behind the scenes of Steve Job’s startup NeXT… that he launched after he was ousted from Apple.
Some really cool stuff in this video… definitely worth the watch.
Insights I got and learned from it:
How important “driving a stake into the ground” can be to getting stuff done and PR
How Steve rallied his team while still being a strong leader to push the vision forward
How important it is to get away from the regular work environment and into a “retreat” with key team members at least a couple times a year to brainstorm and solve problems
Tons of great stuff. Enjoy