A System For Effective Time Management

As business grows, I’m implementing a system for effective time management that will allow me to leverage my time and create more abundance for my team and clients.

Here are some effectiveness tips that I’ve used to get more done.

1. Move it Once

When I worked in construction, we used to have a rule that we would move material only once.

When the siding was delivered, we either had the delivery guys take it straight to the location where it was needed, or we moved it there right away. If you ever catch yourself moving building material 2-3 times because it’s in the way, or you need the space to do another part of the project, you’re killing your productivity.

It’s much easier in a physical world to set the rule that you only move things once. A bag of concrete is a pain to handle over and over again. This same physical constraint doesn’t hold the same sway for eMails or CRM tools. It’s much easier to pass duties and materials around with eMails and CRM. In all reality, it’s just as ineffective, but we don’t feel it the same as we used to when we had to move rocks.

The lesson here is to move things as little as possible until they are in their final position.

2. List the 6 Accomplishments of the Day 

In order to avoid being reactive all day, I’m making a list of 6 tasks that will move the mission along. Big steps. Make them daring.

For Example, as a podcast production company, my list will often look like this:

  1. Produce the Latest Episode of a Show
  2. Structure the New Deal
  3. Respond to Leads from spreadsheet and e-mail optin
  4. Write a Blog for Content Marketing Purposes
  5. Follow up with X Client on Payment
  6. Develop system for new employee

3. Plan The Time You Will Spend

Now I’ll go through and allocate time to each task

  1. Structure the New Deal: Call, Send Contract and Invoice ( 1 hrs) 
  2. Respond to Leads from spreadsheet and e-mail optins ( .5 hrs)
  3. Write a Blog for Content Marketing Purposes (.5 hrs)
  4. Follow up with X Client on Payment (.25 hrs)
  5. Develop system for new employee (1.75 hrs)

Notice, my cumulative working hours are 6 or less. That’s realistic because anything more is expecting that there will be no interruptions during the day. Committing to less is a great way to ensure that I accomplish the objectives I committed to.

I make the list somewhere between 3-7 items. I try not to go crazy as a list that I can’t complete will weigh on my subconscious all day. I’ll end up feeling like a failure.

4. Plan the Day

Schedule:

  • 6:00-6:45 Surf, Eat Breakfast and make coffee
  • 7:00-7:30 Call with Client in the USA
  • 7:30-8:30 Respond to Leads from spreadsheet and e-mail optins
  • 8:30-11:00 CrossFit Workout
  • 1:00-12:00 Structure the New Deal: Call, Send Contract and Invoice
  • 12:00-12:15 Follow up with X Client on Payment
  • 1:30-2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00-3:45 Develop system for new employee
  • 3:00-5:00 Be Available for Productive Reaction to the Daily Grind
  • 5:00-5:30 Write a Blog for Content Marketing Purposes

5. Prioritize

I try to focus on difficult stuff that I’m afraid of. That is the hard work. That’s the important work.

6. Throw Away Tasks That Don’t Matter

Get rid of the tasks that don’t matter. It might seem hard at first to let things go, but do not feel bad about it. When you get to a point where you can skip tasks, it’s important to learn to do that.

Thank you for reading.

Hat Tip to The Ultimate Sales Machine for the system.

Effective E-Mail Communication

Let’s be hyper productive and make the world a better place.

I receive hundreds of emails per day and am working diligently to respond as much as possible. This is a reactive process that I deeply appreciate. It is also important that I spend most of my time in a proactive state.

To maximize our mutual proactive states, let’s follow these best e-mail practices.

With Color Added

Notes for Effective eMail Communication:

  • Make the Subject Line Descriptive – Make the purpose easy to identify

When replying with a shift in direction, change the subject line to reflect new direction.

  • Number Points – Make action items clear.

Numbered points help to make action steps identifiable and easier to execute.

  • Reflect – Read it over to ensure clear, succinct idea transmission.

Long lingering eMails are much more challenging to respond to effectively.

  • Be Solution Oriented – Asking questions is great,  but provide solutions when possible.

Solutions are what we’re all after. If you can provide direction, it will be easier to reply effectively.

With Appreciation,

Ian Robinson

Special Thanks:

Tip of the hat to Chris Ducker’s Rule of 3, Niall Doherty and The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes for inspiring this post.
E-mail Best Practices

Maker’s Schedule – A Discussion On a Paul Graham Essay

I’d like to discuss this article: Maker’s Schedule.

Let’s use the comments below to open up a dialogue and see what comes up.

Are you a maker or a manager? Do you suffer from trying to play the different roles?

Do you produce your value from a manager schedule or a makers schedule?

What is a speculative meeting to you? Damaging or empowering?

Thanks to Ryan Holiday’s article for brining this to the forefront.

My Research on Bitcoin

You can find the original bicoin creation document written by Satoshi Nakamoto here.

I found it empowering to follow along with the audible version embedded below. Reading while hearing is a powerful way to internalize complex ideas:

This is a challenge to wrap ones head around, but what I’m gleaming is about the Bitcoin system is that the system’s security becomes more robust as it grows.  The complexity is built out by miners who are rewarded with Bitcoins. These miners are getting increasingly sophisticated. One entrepreneurial miner moved to Iceland to take advantage of an abundance of cold air.

So these entrepreneurs are running tremendous computers, specially designed to make hacking the Bitcoin system more challenging (using the Hashcash system.) With each use of a bitcoin, with each creation of a bitcoin, the currency becomes more robust.

But I’m skeptical because, while I understand this all very vaguely on an intellectual level, I wanted to know about who was behind it all… What do the faces of the guys who are running this show look like?

So first off I went into how to set up a bitcoin wallet and how to buy coins. I got to this article which makes it far easier.

But again, who is this CoinBase group? Is this some elaborate scheme? Sure their website is designed beautifully and seems legitimate… but this is the wild west of crypto currencies and I image the pirates could figure this one out.

Of course, I paused for a long time when considering to enter my bank account information in order to purchase these abstract coins… who were the guys behind the coins? Where they to be trusted?

Then I found an interview with the co-founder.

This made it seem much more real.

I’m kicking myself for not getting in earlier to be perfectly honest. A friend of mine who is passionate about RoboCoin suggested buying coins 3 months previous. The price was $120. Now it’s $630…. If I’d listened to him I would have seen about 430% growth.

So I’m in. Tweet me @IndependentIan if you think this was a good idea. Even better, tweet me if you bought some too.

Update April 19th 2014: I bought in at $630 but got out at $830. Afterwards it’s tanked considerably. I’m still holding off. The current cost is $495 so it’s back on the rise. Stay vigilant people! 🙂

James Altutcher Gives the Best Advice for Startups

I spend some time in the tech scene in the community that I’m currently in now. Last month I even went to a fancy dinner with free cocktails in a stunning room. Lot’s of tech people but I couldn’t help but realize something:

None of them seemed to be making any money on their projects, and most of them are doing everything wrong.

I’m no expert. My business hardly turns over enough money to buy chocolate and bacon (which are the only things I want) but everything is growing and it starts with revenue.

Lots of these guys had fantastic devices and tremendous ideas. One had the fastest keyboard for typing. But all these well to do tech communities gurus were talking about things like NDAs, Patenting Ideas and Angel Investors.

I’ve only been doing this stuff for a short time but I’m confident these things are a waste of time (especially at startup level.)

This article illustrates the characteristics of building businesses successfully.

JamesAltutcherBlackandWhite

I think everyone in that room would probably gain from reading that article alone.

Also, listen to James Altutcher here primarily. If you want more, listen here.

Also, to define what a start up is read Paul Graham’s definition. That’s right Techos = A startup isn’t an APP company. I imagine a drywalling company could be an amazing startup. I’m currently reading The Millionaire Next Door (hint: READ THIS BOOK) and it turns out that being a millionaire is more about Dull Normal Businesses than anything else.

Elon Musk is the Real Life Iron Man

Elon Musk is my hero because he works as a creative fundamentalist.

Hey Elon, do you think you can handel a contract with NASA to take astronauts to space?

“Sure we can create the first private astronaut orbital transport… but what we really want to do over the long term is work out the cargo transport problem to mars and be able to establish a self sustaining civilization on mars.”

Wait what? Where did you get that idea?

“The calculations worked out.”

So you’re telling me life is sustainable on mars?

“You’d need to live on a dome at first but over time, life could be terraformed and you could actually walk around on the planet without anything. It’s a fixer upper of a planet.”

Right… so moving on. What’s the deal with the electric car?

“The problem with the electric car is that the price of gasoline is way to inexpensive so we’ve gotta make them WAY better than our competitors who get the benefit of an artificially low cost of running internal combustion engines.”

Wow, that sounds stressful. What’s the secret to your success?

“Well, many people reason by analogy and I try to reason with a physics approach to reasoning…. Essentially, if you want to figure out something new, it’s best to start with the most fundamental principals/truths and reason upwards from there as opposed from reasoning by analogy.”

analogy |əˈnaləjē|

noun ( pl. analogies )

a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification: an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies | he interprets logical functions by analogy with machines.

Starting a Blog that You Want to Monetize One Day

One of my best friends is starting his online empire. He’s asking me questions about how to start and I think the answers would be great to share here. My thoughts on this stuff are always changing, but to me; this is great advice for anyone seeking to start building an online empire….
The H2 tags are his questions and my responses follow.

What are some useful/awesome plug ins for word press you like to use?

Here are the basic plugins I recommend for starters:
All in One SEO Pack – Constantly updating and constantly improving. The best for starting out.
Akismet – Spam Filter Rocks.
W3 Total Cache – Speeds up your site. I don’t know why or how… but it works
Sharebar – Automates the social media sharing. Quick and easy.
That’s it. Don’t even worry about installing others because the real valuable thing you can do now is to start writing. When I was starting out, I spent way too much time focusing on this sort of plugin BS and it got me no where.

Would like to post/blog a lot of basic and free info about the test and the industry in general but am considering a Work Book of sorts to be purchased.  

Sweet. Do both. Post everything for free and see if anyone even comes to see it. Once your site gets traffic, collate all the information you posted to get that traffic and sell it as a product on the first page. The product will have everything on your site that is available for free, but it will be in a more concise format that will be worth the $20-$50 or whatever. Keep it focused though “Pass the Cicero Test” is better than “Be a Beer Expert.

This would require some sort of Shopping Cart.  Is that a plugin you can use or is that something entirely different that I must purchase?

Once you get traffic to your site, you’ll know whether or not building a product is a good idea. Once you know that, you can think about building the product. Once you have built the product you can worry about shopping cart solutions.
When you do get there, use e-junkie.com. They handle the whole shopping cart thing and it costs $5 a month.

Blah what else? ummm what are your thoughts on backlinking.

Backlinking is really important, but it’s an endless hole of shifting SEO industry non-sense. If you focus on building a website with great information and is user friendly, you’ll have a better chance of industry people linking to your website. This will be the most powerful form of backlinking. When you’re starting out, don’t even think about backlinking. Just think about writing awesome shit. 

Do u write a lot of blogs for the sole purpose of driving traffic to you content?

Yeah writing blogs is how I get traffic to my websites. But the sole purpose should always be making something awesome that people will share and comment on. One good blog post is worth way more than a month of backlinking work.
I’ll Tell You My BS backlinking Story:
I did a month of backlinking work on one online property back in 2012. I did the gambit of spinning articles, posting them to web 2.0 sites, using UAW to massive link to that outer web which I then linked to my site using my target keyword as the anchor text. If this doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it because the moral of the story is, “Don’t do it.”
This should have worked well and I had initial jumps in search engine results.  Then there was a google update and everything I had done turned into a liability. Those anchor texts I used throughout the whole internet made google index me as a spam site (hell it was a bunch of spam.)
Essentially, I spent a month building a liability. To this day, that site ranks well in Bing and Yahoo and the business is profitable from that traffic… but it ranks awful in Google and I’m confident that the reason it does aweful in Google is because of the junk I made during that month. Undoing those junk back-links I built is on my to-do list today, but I haven’t got around to it because it’s a serious task to undo. Lesson: Don’t worry about backlinking. If you want to learn about how the link economy works, read Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. This is a much better us of your time.
People share good information. You’re a funny f$@)er, you’ve got a niche topic of value and your passionate about (product) so you’ll be able to make stuff that people read and share. Focus on that and if you need some SEO work done in the future, outsource it so someone who loves that s&$t.
I get 1,000 visitors a month to one blog due to one post. If I spent that first month building good stuff rather than trying to game the system, I bet I’d have an extra blob of passive income coming in my Adsense account today. Hell, I might have a lot more.

I am far from this stage at this point but I just read about it so I thought I would ask yas.

Lastly, just start right now (Yeah you. If you got this far, stop reading this and take the next critical step towards making something useful.) It’s more than OK to write a few pieces of s%$t before you really start making stuff that is awesome. No one will go backwards on your site to find the bad stuff you wrote while starting out. People come to the site to get information the need. Write a bunch of posts that are valuable to them and then you’ll have a launch pad for making something that those people will pay for in the future.