I returned to work on the 3rd of Jan after not having my laptop open since 21 Dec, 12 full days of no work bliss. I was hesitant to do this as I normally average around 130 emails a day. So I could have expected to have 1560 emails – Eeeks. Yet, because of the holiday season I had around 970 emails unopened. Answering and going through them took 33 minutes. I timed it. Lots of comments on Facebook when I posted that, so it motivated me to do this post, because even though we have a number of companies and speak at over 100 events each year and go to over twenty countries I still find I have plenty of time. So why is everyone so damn busy. Maybe I have just worked cool ways to stay sane. You won’t believe some of these and you will say – I couldn’t do that, but I ask you just to consider for a moment if you could – what what your life look like. Here is the key:
You own your life – your life doesn’t own you.
So here is what I do to make sure I have got the time to hang with friends, play guitar, work on cool projects and travel the world.
1. I almost never take phone calls
I have educated clients and friends not to ring me. In fact if my phone rings and you are not in my phone list it’s not getting answered. I am thinking of taking voicemail off all together. But when you get my voicemail this is what it says: ‘Hi this is Mike Handcock – Please don’t leave a message. Email me at …. or if urgent text me to this number.’ Occasionally I get a text, I don’t listen to voicemail hardly at all. ‘Oh but Mike doesn’t it cost you business?’ Maybe – but I doubt it, but it gives me all my time back and that makes me even more able to run and service my business. (on average I receive 3 – 5 phone calls a month. 80% of those are from close friends)
2. I don’t push my emails to my phone
Why would I do that? I have got rid of calls. I don’t want to be on my phone at all. My phone is a tool for me to use for me to be more efficient. Watch anyone come out of a conference or meeting. They immediately check voicemail and their emails. It’s rare in any business that clients are phoning or emailing to buy more so therefore they are just putting more weight on already non productive shoulders. I’m not doing that. I’ll do my emails when I want to do them.
NOTE* – Ha Ha – ever since Tim Ferriss wrote the 4 hr work week he works a lot more than 4 hrs a week, speaking, coaching and training.
I actually do my emails first thing in the morning and I set a game time of 45 mins for the game. My method is I firstly go through and hit the delete button on all non relevant emails (sales letters etc). I keep subscribed because occasionally I may want to see what is going on. I then start at the top and go through each email. If its shorter than a few lines I answer it immediately and about 90% of them are. If it’s a long diatribe, I flag it for later. If I still have time at the end I answer it, other wise it stays til later in the day, or at worst the next day. That way everyone gets a response within 24 hrs.
4. I shortened my meeting times
My clients will tell you they meet with me by Skype mainly for 30 mins. I used to set aside an hour, then I reduced it to 45 mins now to 30 mins. It could go to 20 easily. What this does is gets rid of story and goes straight to the facts. You have 10 meetings a week – you just saved 5 hrs. My buddy Justin Herald taught me that when someone request a meeting then request a full brief. It can normally be dealt with by return email without spending hours in traffic.
5. Trust your people – trust your product – or change them
This was taught to me by Alan Butcher of Build 7 and it’s genius. If you have staff or contractors then you need to brief them and trust them and you need to have confidence in your brand and delegate. Empower people. So many times as a corporate I saw bosses keep people in the dark to maintain power. What a load of bullocks, no wonder they are stressed. I love to empower people, and yes they make mistakes, but the alternative is do it all yourself and don’t have a life.
I would rather have a life. In 2014, Im going to be living in NZ and Romania, I’ll be visiting at least 15 countries and having some amazing times. Don’t be stuck in the same crap that got you stuck in the first place.