Be Ruthless About Your Time
You can’t eat money, or build a house with dollar bills, or burn it for warmth (well I guess you could but it wouldn’t get you very far!) So why are we all jonesing for more cash? Duh, it’s not the cash we want, it’s all the things the money can buy us.
And while I’m not going to wax philosophical right now on how 🎵money can’t buy me looooooove🎵 or happiness, let’s be honest: it can buy you a lot of things that lead to a more fulfilling and happy life because it can buy you time.
And when you have time you can do meaningful and fulfilling things like connect with others, learn and grow as a person and, equally importantly, give you time to build things that can give you even more time in the future.
Yes you can also watch Netflix but I personally don’t think that leads to happiness and fulfillment no matter how guilty I am of binging here and there.
Today, I want to make a case for why being ruthlessly protective of your time is also about being protective of your clients’ time.
Because if time is the most precious thing any of us have, I’d say it’s actually more respectful (and more beneficial) to both parties when you use it wisely.
Bosses have boundaries
Projects need boundaries.
Without clear boundaries, most client projects can quickly go wildly out of scope, sucking up your energy, time, and profits.
A lot of people think that if they end up overworking because they weren’t able to protect the time of the project, well, at least their client will be okay and maybe even benefit from the extra work. After all, giving more time to the client than what they paid for can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Overworking is worse than you might think.
I had a business coach once who agreed to a certain number of hourly meetings each month. But whenever we met, he rambled way outside of our normal schedule. He didn’t mind if our meetings lasted two hours or more.
Don’t get me wrong – I got a lot of great stuff out of our meetings. But because he wasn’t organized enough to make sure we did the work we needed to do in the hour we had, I always left those meetings feeling like in some ways I was paying more than I had originally bargained for.
These meetings were twice as long, but I wasn’t necessarily getting twice as much value. It was simply because he didn’t protect his time and was okay with taking much longer than necessary to meet with me.
Since I highly value my time, I was now both paying the fee I agreed to and was paying an extra hour or more of my time, every time we met! I eventually stopped working with him and looked for someone else because the cost became too great.
If your goal is to get high-paying clients, think about it this way: people who are willing to pay higher prices are the people who value their time. And when they hire you, you need to value their time just as much as they do. The whole point of hiring you is because you can get them a result faster than they could without you.
And the best way to protect their time by learning how to do the same for your own time.
Mutually beneficial boundaries
When it comes to working with clients or even hiring professionals in your own pursuits, you can set mutually beneficial boundaries in a few ways: First, be prepared.
Whenever you are meeting with someone who is paying you, it is your responsibility to come with an agenda and goal for the meeting. This way, you can both make the most of your time together without it eating into other objectives.
Second, have a repeatable process.
When you are hired to deliver a result faster than the client can get it themselves, you will exceed their expectations when you demonstrate how their results will unfold from the get-go. The best way to know this is by having a process that you repeat with clients in similar situations over and over again. Not only does this help you maximize the value you deliver so you can charge, but it also allows you to do more in less time, freeing you up to take on other projects (or kick back and take it easy).
And finally, set expectations, and meet them, throughout the process.
Some people are worried that if they end a meeting abruptly because the hour is up, for example, they will seem rude or cheap. But when expectations are clearly communicated, nothing can be farther from the truth.
Make sure your clients know what the next few steps will be and what to expect. If you start a meeting with “we have an hour, here’s our agenda” it will be rude not to end the meeting when the hour is up. This hold true for every interaction you have. Boundaries are easy to enforce when the expectation is set from the beginning.
Time is the ONLY thing you can’t make more of. But what you CAN do is change how you use, manage, and protect it. Your best bet is to fill it with important things – be it the soul-clutching work of growing the value of your business, building your skills, or taking time for yourself and your personal life.
The best advice I ever got was this: if you have something on your calendar, ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t do it?” If the answer is nothing – don’t do it.
I dare you to try it – you’ll be amazed by how much time this will free up in your life