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Posts Tagged ‘time management’

The 4 Hour Workweek

October 5th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen
The 4 Hour Workweek book cover


I don’t know about you, but the thought of working less and playing more is very appealing.  Even though I have my own business, I am most definitely not a workaholic.  In fact, I would always rather be on vacation.  During a recent week-long vacation, I ignored email (both personal and professional)—and it was awesome.  Everyone with whom I was working on a project knew I would be unreachable for an entire work week, and no one bothered me.  Projects are still on schedule, and the Earth is still rotating.

So it was with great interest that I read The 4-Hour Workweek on the plane ride home from vacation.  It was written a few years ago by the then-30 year old entrepreneur, Timothy Ferriss.  This is book is not an Anthony Robbins-type, become-a-millionaire-and-everything-will-be-great book.  Tim actually has his own business manufacturing and selling nutritional supplements. He figured out a way to legitimately game the system so he could still earn money but spend his time pursuing interests outside of work.  And he wrote a book about it, which shot to the top of both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists.

His main argument for reducing your work load centers on the idea of regularly taking mini-retirements.  It’s a much better plan, he argues, than what we’re expected to do (and what everyone else does): work like a dog during the prime of our lives, take a short vacation once a year, and retire before we drop dead—at which point we can (hopefully) enjoy life and the fruits of our labor.  Tim refers to this as the deferred-life plan, and I wholeheartedly agree that’s a stupid plan.

In the book, he outlines exactly what to do to gain time and mobility, as they are the keys to living like the New Rich.

  1. D is for Defintion.  This section introduces the rules and objectives of the new game—lifestyle design.  Tim assigns some homework to get you motivated.  He asks you to write down and confront and what is stopping you from doing what you need to do to be happier: quitting your job, expanding your business, etc.  He also asks you to write down your dreams and calculate how much they will cost to achieve.
  2. E is for Elimination.  Time management is turned on its head in this section, which is based on “Pareto’s Law” that states 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.  By using selective ignorance, consuming less information, and ignoring the unimportant, Tim argues that you can do your work in very little time—and thus gain lots of time.  He gives you ideas on how to effectively use your time, some of which I have already implemented myself (yes, they work).
  3. A is for Automation.  Because work still needs to get done so you can get paid and fund your lifestyle, Tim explains how arbitrage, outsourcing, and not making decisions can put your “cash flow on autopilot,” a term I love, and thus ensure you a steady income.  I’ve already started outsourcing more work to my intern to free up some of my time.
  4. L is for Liberation.  The final section of the book focuses on mobility, mini-retirements, controlling your business from a distance, and escaping the boss.  Because of the nature of my work, I can already work anywhere. Until I conquer my fears, expand my business, and hire employees, though, working 4 hour days and taking mini-retirements will have to wait.

I highly recommend the book.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to know if you have made significant changes and altered your life for the better?  If not, what is holding you back?

Time Management: Easier Said Than Done

June 1st, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.

Peter Drucker is a genius, and for good reason.  That’s his quote above.  A friend of mine used to work her butt off four days a week for her clients so she could take Fridays off.  (I say “used to” because she is no longer a consultant, but instead works more than full-time in a rewarding, high-stress job at a non-profit.)


Peters nik/Flickr

I would love to work part-time or four days a week or, while we’re at it, not at all, and still earn what I earn now.  My problem is time management (I should probably read some Drucker!).  Some days I am laser focused and bang out my work, but most days I struggle.  I’ll constantly check email, Facebook, or remember that I wanted to look up something online.  I’ll stare out the window.  I’ll do busy-work that is not accomplishing anything (like writing an outline for a blog post instead of just writing it).

Instead of investigating time management best practices, strategies, tips, skills, and advice online, here is how I think I could best manage my time:

Devote chunks of the day to specific tasks.  Not a big breakthrough here, but I’ve never done it before so I’d like to see if it would work for me.  I’m thinking it should work for me because 1., I like to write tasks down and check them off as I complete them, and 2., It will keep me focused and  maybe free up time at the end of the day to goof off.  I’ll schedule time to do everything: check and respond to email; check for social media updates; work on my projects, and take breaks.

Shut down the applications I’m not using.  When I’m on email, everything else will be closed.  When I’m working on a project, the relevant documents will be open and email and IE will be closed. 

I am very curious as to what time management strategies you’ve used to stay on task and focused.  If I get enough comments, I’ll post your suggestions in an upcoming blog.

Women in Business: Striking a Balance Between Entrepreneurship and Motherhood

May 19th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen
If you’re lucky, every once in a while you meet someone who totally changes your life.  Staci LaRue is just one of those people.  As a holistic nutritionist and personal trainer who specializes in Pilates, Staci helps lots of people change by helping them live healthier, more balanced, and less stressed lives.  She changed mine in a big way after a consultation this past winter.  After 17½ years of being a vegetarian, I did a 180˚: I started eating meat and stopped eating soy and wheat (not as hard as I thought it would be!).  Because LaRue Wellness is such a niche business, and because Staci manages to balance the demands of running a new business with being a wife and mom to a toddler, I wanted to share her story with you.


Staci LaRue

Staci LaRue

As 2009 was coming to an end I realized that as much as I was enjoying motherhood, I also enjoyed my career as a fitness and nutrition professional.  My former office space only allowed me to hold nutrition appointments, and I really wanted to add the personal training component back to my client programs.  I needed to expand, and the only way it made sense financially was to do it on my own.  LaRue Wellness unofficially launched in January 2010, but thanks to Mother Nature’s snow generosity things didn’t really get going until February.  

I like being in control of my client relationships, scheduling, and having everything I want and need in my space to create the perfect atmosphere for wellness.  As great as being your own boss is, it also adds some extra pressure and schedule demands, even more so for a one woman operation like mine.  It is always a challenge to find time for client emails, accounting duties and maintenance, along with all the requirements of mommy hood.  It’s a hard balance but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love the challenge and being my own boss keeps me busy and I think makes me a better mom and role model.  

Spreading the Word

Thus far I have done a little social networking on Facebook, but the rest has been word of mouth. I have been blessed with some great clients who have helped me spread the word about my new business.

Growing and Changing

My goal is to maintain the balance of being a mom and wife while continuing to help my clients become and stay healthy.  In the immediate future, I would like do more corporate and group wellness programs.  So far I have only had one corporate client for a 5 week weight loss workshop, which was a success.  I have also hired an evening trainer who can utilize my facility while I am home being mom, which will help LaRue Wellness grow.

Advice for the New Business Owner

Set realistic goals, make time for your home/personal life, and don’t forget to pack a lunch!

As told to Monika Jansen via email

If You Have Time for Meetings, You Have Time for Marketing

September 23rd, 2009 :: Monika Jansen

All of us small business owners run into time management problems.  Not because we’re not organized, but because there’s not enough of it, and what we have of it flies by all too quickly.  And, really, who among us wants to work on their day(s) off or into the wee hours every night?  We can’t do everything, though we try.  Inevitably, a lot of stuff that needs to be done gets thrown by the wayside, especially marketing.  Huge mistake.  Huge!

Question: Do you even have a marketing program in place?   Well, tsk, tsk.

I hear the lame excuses why marketing is routinely ignored, and these are the top three: Marketing requires expertise that I don’t have; marketing requires too much time and money; I won’t be able to keep up once I do get going.   While it’s true that you don’t want to ignore whatever your core competency is, you need to be fully engaged with marketing on a consistent basis.  If you don’t keep up, especially with social networking, you will be left behind.

So, where do you find all this time for marketing?  Well, if you have time for meetings, you have time for marketing.  Once you devote an hour or two to get a few programs up and running, you need only feed and water them so they thrive.

Let’s start with the idea that marketing requires a whole boatload of expertise.  Yes and no.  Yes, because you need to be creative and have strong writing and editing skills.  If you lack the latter, it’ll show.  No, because you are the expert on your business.  You know what makes your product or service special, and there is no better person to sell you than you.  Articulate that, and you’re good to go.

Yes, marketing requires a time commitment, but it shouldn’t require a lot of money.  Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social networking sites are free for users.  Email marketing subscriptions are not expensive at all (Constant Contact, for instance, starts at $15/month).  As for the time it takes to set up an account, 30 minutes max for all of the above.  Well, maybe setting up an e-newsletter will take longer if you start fiddling with the templates.  But that’s it!  Only 30 minutes to get going!

As for keeping up with whatever marketing program you do launch, it’s not that bad.  I spend about 10-15 minutes on Twitter and Facebook every day.  This blog post will take me about 30-45 minutes to write because it’s so long (posts need not be long, only interesting).  An e-newsletter will take longer—maybe an hour or two depending on the length.  An email marketing message should only take about 10-15 minutes to put together.   Like I said, not that bad.

Stop waiting and get going today!