Stop Spending Your Time – Invest It
Pie Day PSA. It’s a little over two months until the Thanksgiving holiday. If you were inspired by last year’s Pie Day guide, The 5-Step Recipe for a Perfect Pie Day, it’s time to start planning your event!
“A lot of people are inefficient with E-mail, phone calls, reading. They are always hurried. They should be thoughtful about their calendar. They need to take care of themselves.”— Jaime Dimon
Most people spend time like a gambler at a slot machine. They don’t bother pulling the arm, they just push Max Bet as fast as they can.
But millionaires invest their time carefully. I found this out decades ago, when Wendy and I tried inviting some to dinner. We wanted to grow our wealth and figured spending time with millionaires would accelerate us on our journey. It was a complete disaster. Turns out, wealthy people defend their time like lions over a downed water buffalo encircled by a pack of hungry hyenas.
In January, Wendy emailed Mo Anderson, our vice chairperson at the time, with a dinner invitation to her and her husband. We got a prompt reply from Mo’s executive assistant: “They’d be thrilled to have dinner with you.” Huzzah! She offered us two dates…in August.
So, first lesson. Successful people manage their commitments differently. Because they have many commitments, they don’t take on new ones haphazardly. Today, I get a lot of invitations over texts and social media to speak at events, appear on podcasts, or connect with people. For too long, I’d jump at these opportunities with little forethought. “Heck yeah, I’ll ____!” But these impulsive commitments often wreaked havoc on my time.
The more I interacted with super-successful people with many demands on their time, I realized they had models worth implementing. I observed. I asked questions. And eventually I created three rules for investing my time.
- No quick commitments via social media or texts. Text and direct messages create a false sense of urgency. You want to tie it up for fear the invite will get lost in the hundreds of DMs and texts we get daily.
Today, I remove the urgency and I consider all my invitations together. When someone sends me an invite, I type “Nosocial” and my preset text replacement converts it to “I am trying to avoid making commitments via text or social media. Please email me at email@example.com with any relevant details. I will then get with my EA and see if we can work something into my schedule. Thanks!”
I shared how to create text replacements in this post.
A few times a week, we’ll review the requests and prioritize them appropriately.
- Time with a stranger, no matter how cool, should never take precedence over time with a partner. Period. I haven’t regretted every time I’ve broken this rule, but a handful of mistakes have created lasting regrets. I’d rather miss a good opportunity than say “yes” to a distraction.
I know what you’re thinking. Surely, it’s okay to skip your kid’s soccer game, to hang out with [Fill in the blank]. Actually, it’s not. And both the person you say “No” to and the person you say “Yes” to will respect you more.
Gary tells the story of a fantastic recruit showing up at his door when one of his agents was in crisis. “I’m sorry but I can’t meet with you now,” he explained. “Someone I work with needs me and I have to prioritize people I’m in business with over those I’m not.” Guess what: the recruit joined our company and cited that conversation as the reason.
- Create regular time blocks for regular commitments. I tend to get regular invitations for podcasts, coffee get-to-know-yous, and speaking engagements. I’ve built in regular time blocks for the first two and have rules for the last. Afternoons between 4-5 lend themselves to interviews and podcasts. Wednesday mornings before 9 a.m. tend to be free for meeting new people. And each year, I set goals (and limitations) around how many speaking engagements I will agree to. The first year The ONE Thing came out, I had a goal for 36 speaking engagements to promote the book. Ten years later the goal was 6. When you know you have a limited number of “yesses,” you think twice before giving a “yes” away.
Time is your most precious asset. If you spend a dollar, you can earn two tomorrow. But once you spend your time, you can never get it back.
The simple solution? Before you spend your time, buy time. Line up your potential time commitments and allocate time to the ones that matter most.
One question to ponder in your thinking time: Instead of spending my time, how can I invest it?
Make an Impact!