3 dumb things I did before I went #60to15- and 2 things that set me free

For a smart person, I’m sometimes really dumb.

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There are three really dumb things I used to do that used to extend my work day.

  1. Do repeated tasks from scratch every time.
  2. Do repeated tasks differently each time.
  3. Spend 5 to 10 hours doing things worth less than my average hourly compensation.

That third thing is the biggest deal

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We’ll come back to thing one and thing two in a short story. First let’s look at the third item for a minute.

Even if you’re not comfortable delegating, you still want to do everything you can to avoid spending $2000 of your time on a $100 task.

Imagine that you intend to make $250k this year from your product line or services. If you worked for that money, 40 hours each week, or 2080 a year, that means an hour of your time would be worth $120.

(Hopefully you’d get a good portion of that from passive income. I also don’t believe in hourly rates. But stick with me.)

If your time is worth $120 an hour, why would you spend 10 hours on a $20 an hour task?

“You just lost $1180 because you’re too stubborn to find a tool or system for a $20 task.”

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Hearing that sentence is how I learned my lesson.

The bane of my existence used to be invoicing – that was my $20 task but at the time I didn’t know it.

I used to spend hours preparing them. And then, because I had no system, I would have to start again almost entirely from scratch.

I wanted to automate, but I couldn’t quite get there. Some fields on the invoice stayed the same, so I figured, having a template would make things easier.

Only, I had a services business that was mostly custom services, rather than a standard menu.

So each invoice was different.

I was also charging according to a complex system that I thought I was saved time- and paid me fairly.

But I didn’t count the time I spent on what ultimately turned out to be nonsensically long proposal and invoicing processes.

On top of having no system for things, the way I got the task done was labor intensive. I hated it AND it took forever.

So I’d avoid it.

Then I’d lose money from not invoicing on time too. Something had to give.

The first thing I did? Systemize my life.

Start creating systems.

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I made a system for charging clients.

I made one for creating a sales page.

I made one for finding graphics.

I looked for holes, questioned my tactics, looked for tools.

When I felt like I could explain the system for something to my nine year old niece, that’s when I was done.

Systems gave me two things.

It saved me time. It killed the time I had to spend thinking about a task, and shrunk the time I spent actually doing it.

It gave me freedom. The more of my work that could be reduced to an easy to follow set of instructions, the more I had to do something of higher value.

Or to do nothing at all.

After the system came the tools

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Eventually I discovered some tools that shortened the task of creating an invoice with software I paid less than $20 a month to use.

I then had 5 – 15 hours a week back in my schedule.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m referring to Freshbooks. I can’t recommend this service enough.

As your business grows, you’ll likely want to hire an accountant too. Considering how much money you’ll save it’s certainly worth the expense- I got one for about half of what I was expecting to pay. But we’ll talk about things like this during Stage three.

After that experience I thought “what if I found five more tools that saved me 3 – 5 hours a week? I might be able to cut my work week in half again!”

You probably have a story like this about something else.

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I bet there’s a task you hate to do every month or week.

Whether it’s

  • project management,
  • compiling reports,
  • culling your social media accounts,
  • contacting influencers,
  • finding bloggers,
  • communicating with reporters,
  • finding publicity opportunities,
  • providing customer service,
  • answering phones,
  • scheduling meetings,
  • or any other task that is necessary, outside your expertise, but not worth hiring a dedicated assistant for,

-there’s a tool, app or bot for many tasks you’re doing manually. New ones come out every day that make your entrepreneurial life easier.

But as swamped as we tend to get, we often don’t hear about the very things that would make us less busy!

Over the next few posts, I’ll identify my top ten favorite work-cutters, then give you a huge master list of things I’ve heard about or tried.

Part of the #60to15 series for entrepreneurs on shortening your work week.
As always if you want to add to the list, just create a blog post, Instagram post or tweet, and add it to the #60to15 hashtag, then anyone can read your submission. I’ll do round-ups to feature the best ones.