We're continuing my series on goal setting with another truth about time, this one about the real value of your time. It's a gamechanger so please have a listen. Also in the episode:
- How the 80/20 Rule (aka Pareto Principle) applies to you
- How to value to tasks you do
- How to decide which tasks you should focus on, and which tasks to outsource or get help with
Scroll down for links to listen.
Next week, I'm continuing the series and I'm talking about how long it really takes to write and self-publish a book, so subscribe if you aren't already so you don't miss it.
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In today's episode we're talking about how much is your time really worth. On the podcast, I walk through all the different 'buckets' in the image below, but keep this image handy as you listen for a visual reference.
Here's also the link to Perry Marshall's book (*affiliate link, which means I earn a commission if your purchase at no additional cost to you).
After you listen, join our podcast community on Facebook or comment below and let me know: What do you think about these different buckets? Do you agree with the breakdown, why or why not?
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[00:00:00] In this episode, we're talking about how much your time is really worth. Please keep listening to learn more about this gamechanging idea.
[00:00:32] You may write alone, but you are not alone. Inside the Writer's Soul focuses on how personal experiences can inform your writing and help you speak from the soul to really connect with readers and other authors as well. Your writer's soul doesn't need to take the writing and publishing journey alone. Join me, your host M. Khan, and let's move forward together.
[00:00:33] Hello and Welcome! Today we're talking about a couple of ideas that have really changed how I view not only about how my time is worth, but also how much a value I should put on my time. Now, we're going to be talking about two concepts today, the first of which is the Pareto Principle. I think I'm saying that right. It's named after an Italian economist who realized that 80 percent of the land in Italy at the time was owned by 20 percent of the population. So this Pareto Principle is often referred to as the 80/20 principle, as the 80/20 rule, things like that. Now, how this applies to you is that 80 percent of your results will come from just 20 percent of your effort. Think about that. 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your effort. 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your clients/customers/newsletter subscribers. If you're an existing author who has a newsletter list and you're already publishing, that's something you might have noticed is that you always get a spike from your newsletter subscribers maybe buying on release day, but it's never the whole list. It's always a percentage. 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your effort. And for me, this idea was really game changing. It really helped me shift my ideas around what I thought I needed to be working on and helped me focus on what I should be working on.
[00:01:52] Now, let's apply this idea to everything you do for your writing life, your personal life, your business life and all of the things in between. I have a really great table or chart on the blog that outlines this so be sure to check it out. But, in the meantime, I want you to start thinking about everything you do and putting a value on it. Think about how much per hour that task is worth and it's not based on the effort involved, but based on the outcome received. So all of the things we'll be talking about today, think about not the effort involved, but what is the outcome received. That's the value you should be putting on these tasks, because there are some tasks that take a lot of effort, but they are not necessarily bringing you closer to your personal goals, your business goals, things like that. We're so often trained to undervalue our time and our worth, especially women, and this idea really helped me shift that thinking and really helped me focus on what I needed to be focusing on.
[00:02:49] So think of it this way. Is the task you're doing worth $10 an hour? A hundred dollars an hour? A thousand dollars an hour? Ten thousand dollars an hour? It can seem out there to envision a task worth $10000 an hour, but it exists. Remember, we're not basing it on the effort involved, but based on the outcome received.
[00:03:10] I'm going to list some examples here. And you can also find the same examples in a book called "80/20 Sales and Marketing" by Perry Marshall. I've added to the charts that are in that book and amended them a little bit to include writing-related and personal tasks.
[00:03:25] So let's talk about $10 an hour tasks. Now, remember, this is not based on the effort involved, but the outcome received. So $10 an hour tasks are ones you should not be spending a lot of time on because the outcome you'll get from them is not that great and they won't necessarily push you towards your goals. So let's think about a few things here. Your inbox for one. Everyone needs help managing their inbox. It can always be overwhelming if you don't keep up with it, but the effort you put into it, you might spend hours going through and sorting your mailbox but, at the end, the outcome you get from it is, yeah, you'll have a clean inbox, but you may not necessarily be moving towards that goal of engaging readers or making more sales.
[00:04:08] Another thing, and this might be a little bit controversial, but it's social media. Now I'm putting it here in the $10 per hour bucket because you put a lot of effort into it. Even if you use a social media scheduler, there are still a lot of things you need to do. You need to prep your post. You need to prep images for those posts or even videos. There's a lot that goes into maintaining a social media presence. So even if you're using a scheduler, there's still a lot of manual effort involved. Now, if you have an assistant, you can outsource that. And again, anything in this $10 per hour bucket are things that should be outsourced. Or if you can outsource, say, I'm not in the place financially, personally to outsource everything yet or really anything yet. But if you can outsource it, even to hire an admin to help out with some of the little things that could help.
[00:04:56] Now, admin is the other big thing in this bucket that includes managing invoices, say you need to pay your editor, you need to pay your cover designers. You'll have other bills and billing. Bills could be your personal bills, keeping track of all the bills you have to pay when you have to pay them. And if they're sort of off-cycle ones that you only pay maybe once or twice a year, those can be really tricky because they're easy to forget if you don't have a system in place to manage those. Even things like bookkeeping and other aspects of your admin related tasks, these all go in $10 an hour. Bookkeeping - all of this is a very essential, but it takes up a lot of time and effort. Now things like personal bills, you might need to do that on your own or maybe with your partner or your spouse, or even just someone, if you're struggling, who can maybe help you navigate that a little bit. But something like bookkeeping is something you can outsource when you feel like you're financially there to do it. There are companies out there like Bench or even other accountants who will help you out with bookkeeping services on a fairly regular basis, sometimes for not a lot. I think Bench started at $135 a month. Don't quote me on that, but they really do everything for you. If you really want to turn your bookkeeping over to somebody else, a service like that can really help.
[00:06:11] Other things in the $10 per hour bucket are formatting. That would include formatting your books to get them ready for publication. Updating your website or even creating your website. Now, I will say I do do my website updates myself, but part of that is because I have no patience. So if I wanted to hire someone to do it for me, I would probably constantly be bugging them. Because I like to have a little bit more control where my website is concerned, even when I initially created, say, my pen name website, I did hire a designer to do it and she did a fabulous job. But recently, last year, I decided I wanted to do a refresh of that brand. So I just ended up redoing the website myself. And it was time and it was effort and I definitely could have outsourced it. But for me, the issue was control there because I liked having control of how different aspects of my website looked. And I just honestly felt like the time I would spend communicating back and forth with a designer may not be the best utilization of both of our times. I can do it. I know what I wanted and I just went and did it. So for me, it was actually timewise better for me to just do it myself than spend time communicating back and forth with the designer to do it. I did hire a contractor to help me with some pieces that were a little bit above my technical level and that was absolutely money well spent. So even if you're like me and you wanted to have a little bit more control over some aspects of, say, your website or something else in this $10 per hour bucket, what can you outsource from these smaller tasks? What can you outsource from these other pieces that can help you and focus your time somewhere else?
[00:07:52] Now, a couple of personal items that might fit in this $10 per hour bucket could be chores, it could be cleaning, things like that around the house that you need to take care of. The thing is, you might not be able to afford, say, a house cleaning service, but maybe you can get some help if it's feeling overwhelming to you to do chores and to do cleaning or it's just taking you too much time. Maybe hire cleaners just for one day to come in and do the whole apartment or house or wherever you live just once. And maybe you only do that once or twice a year and you manage everything else in between.
[00:08:26] So those were a lot of $10 per hour tasks. And remember, this is not based on the effort involved because some things like doing your admin or your inbox will take a lot of time. But it's based on the outcome received. So even though, for example, I have a new website created at the end of that, you know, that may not have been the best use of my time. But for me, that's what ended up working and that's okay. You may think that some of these things that I put in the $10 power bucket do not fit in your $10 per hour bucket, and that's completely okay.
[00:08:56] Now, let's talk a little bit about the hundred dollar per hour bucket. So these things would include blog posts, newsletters, managing ads, setting up automated sequencing, doing copywriting, designing graphics. All of these things are related to your business and are worth a little bit more because the outcome you get will be more.
[00:09:18] So doing blog posts brings people to your website, which brings brand awareness to you and can help you get sales. Newsletters absolutely are definitely worth more. Your newsletter is your key marketing piece and that's something you need to be doing consistently in order to do it well. Now ads can be a little bit funny. So when it comes to managing ads, there are a couple of different buckets to consider. But managing the ads are actually worth less than creating the ads. And we'll talk a little bit more about that in a minute. But managing ads on Facebook or other places can be really fussy because you're looking down in the weeds at different data from the ads. You're looking to see what copy is working better, what pictures are working better. So managing those ads, tweaking all of those things is actually worth less than the creation of the ad itself.
[00:10:09] Now, setting up automated sequences, this is something I do on my website even under my pen name. So this is say when you have some a freebie on your website, for example, and you want to give that freebie to anyone who signs up to your list. So an automated sequence would be someone enters their name and their e-mail address and they click, send me that freebie. Then automatically that information gets transmitted to your newsletter service, whichever company you're using. And that newsletter service will then automatically send that person an email to confirm they want to sign up for the list and also send them the freebie that they requested. So that's an automated sequence. You don't have to do anything with that manually after you set it up. So someone's not entering their name on a list, and then you have to go and manually e-mail them the freebie. It's all being done automatically. And there are lots of different things you can do with automated sequences and that's something I'll talk more about in some upcoming marketing episodes. But for now, they're a really powerful tool to help you.
[00:11:09] Other things I mentioned, like copywriting, designing graphics - those are all really important because the copy on your website is what's going to either draw people in or send them away. Even designing graphics, you need something that's going to be definitive of your brand, but something that is also engaging and something which makes people click on that photo to get your book or to see who you are and read more about you.
[00:11:36] Now, there are a couple of personal items in the $100 per hour bucket and that could include things like grocery shopping or organizing, for example. Now, grocery shopping, you could say, might end up being a $10 per hour task because these days, you know, a lot of at least major cities, you can have your grocery, you know, delivered. So you don't even have to go to the grocery store anymore if you don't have time for it. Or you could do one of those meal services where they send you a few meals per week, where it's either the full meals or they send you ingredients for you to cook yourself. I consider it $100 per hour, but that's because of where my health is right now. I need to really be focused on the things I'm eating and how I'm eating. So for me, it's worth a little bit more. But for you, that's something that might fit in the $10 per hour bucket. Eating healthy should be important at any time. But if this is something you can outsource or maybe your partner or your roommate or someone else can help, maybe at least take turns buying food so you're not doing it all the time can also really help out.
[00:12:32] Organizing, this is something I might actually put in a higher bucket, but it's something I definitely think is at least $100 per hour. Organizing can feel like a dirty word sometimes because if you're "messy", whatever that means, some people think that means you're not organized, but that's not true. Everybody is messy in their own way and they have their own system of organization that works with them or that they found that works for their life and their flow. So even if you think you're messy, you're organized in your own way and just maintaining that sense of organization I feel like it's really important. You know, you get into a rhythm, especially when you're, say, writing a book, you want to have your desk a certain way. You might want to have your notepad or your notebook a certain way. You might need to have tea or coffee or water or something to snack on. I mean, everybody is different. And organizing is not just putting things away in closets or bookshelves or drawers. It's even just how you arrange your task to create an optimum creative flow for yourself. So don't think of organizing as a dirty word. Try to expand your thinking so it means more than just putting things away; it's also putting things out in a way that will help you.
[00:13:46] Okay. Now we're going to talk about a thousand dollar per hour tasks. Now, I only have a few listed here. And these can include things like daily and weekly planning. And this would be for your business as well as for your personal life or your day job life or anything else. Delegating and outsourcing tasks. This is really important. As I mentioned already, even if you can't outsource the whole task, is there a small piece of it you can go to somebody else for?
[00:14:14] For social media, cfr example, I have in the thousand dollar per hour task I have creating ads for Facebook etc. or writing sales copy for those ads, for blurbs, for back cover copy. Maybe you can't outsource the managing of the ads, which was a hundred dollar per hour task, but maybe you can outsource the creation of the ad image. You know, maybe you don't want to go on Canva and do it yourself or create one in Photoshop. Maybe there's an assistant out there who can help you create those images. I hired an assistant once just to go through and find a bunch of different quotes and a bunch of different images that I could use to post on different social media sites at one point and that saved me hours of work and it was good money well spent.
[00:14:58] Now we'll talk about the $10000 per hour tasks. So these are the ones which you should be spending the most amount of your time on and are probably the ones you don't spend enough time on. So number one, I put in here writing books. If you are an author or you want to be a published author, writing books has to be something you spend more time on.
[00:15:17] Strategic planning also falls in this $10000 per hour bucket. So we talked about daily/weekly planning in the thousand dollar per hour bucket. But strategic planning is more broad. It's not down in the weeds about what I'm doing on each specific day. It's broader. What do I want to be working on in this quarter for the next three months? What do I want to be working on for this entire year? Why do I want to be working on next year? Where do I want to see my business and my books go in that time? What changes in my personal life to myself, to my soul and my mindset do I also want to make in that time? That's strategic planning.
[00:15:56] Hiring contractors and staff. Now, this is obviously when you're at that place financially to do so this is when you would hire staff. But even contractors - your editors, your book cover designers, all of these are contractors you might need in order to help you. Your formatters if you're not doing it yourself, your narrators for your audiobook, things like that.
[00:16:19] Now, refining messaging also falls in this bucket. Now, I've mentioned a few times copywriting at hundred dollars per hour, writing sales copy in thousand dollars per hour. And in 10000 per hour this is where we're refining our messaging. So this is where we're making little tweaks across all of our different websites, social media, even the different avenues where you put out content and kind of refining it to meet what your audience is asking for.
[00:16:46] Another thing in the 10000 dollar profit bucket is establishing your values and culture. This is so, so important and necessary and definitely something you should be focusing on, even if your goal is not to become a full-time author or even if you just want to be a part-time author, or even if your goal is to just finish a book and maybe not publish it. Establishing your values and your culture is still important because this is the core of who you are. There have been times in this business when I've come across - actually a lot of times - when I've come across people with different values and that's perfectly okay...Unless you're using your values to hurt people. And unfortunately, in this business, I have come across others who just want to hurt me. And seeing that, hearing that, being in that moment with those people, I needed to remind myself of what my own values are and what I believe in my own culture. And I don't just mean my culture as in where my family's from or where my parents from. I mean, the culture that I have around me and my books and my business, and one that is inclusive, one that does not exclude people, one that promotes love and not hate, promotes kindness and not hate. Because you will come across times, not just in business, but in life, when you'll be faced with people who have opposite values to you and you won't be able to say anything to them. Not that you can't speak out, but just that you will never be heard by them. So reminding yourself that you are a good person, that you are promoting good things - kindness and love and empathy and inclusiveness - these things can help you. Know your values. Know what you want your culture to be.
[00:18:29] And especially once you are at the point where you are hiring staff. This is so, so essential because you do not want to create an environment where your staff is made to feel like they are less than. I mean, how many of us have worked day jobs or shift work or anything like that where our bosses were awful and we just felt so undervalued and unappreciated? And the culture, that corporate culture that we were dealing with was just not conducive to good mental health or maybe even good physical health because you're so stressed all the time. This is why it's so important to establish what your values are, how you want to treat people, how you want to help other people in this business, in this community, just in your life. It's so, so important. And I know I spent a little bit more time on this than probably I meant to, but I just feel like having worked in so many different places for so many people who created a toxic culture and then promoted values they did not stand behind, that is not something I want to see anybody else do. And it's certainly something I don't want to do in the future either. Know what your values are. Know the kind of culture you want to create for you and your staff, or even you and your contractors.
[00:19:43] A couple other things that fall in this $10000 per hour bucket are time with friends, family, and loved ones. On the business side of that would be networking and outreach. It's so hard to network. I am a huge introvert. I don't say that people are either introverts or extroverts, because I think it's more of a scale and I tend to be more on the introvert side of the scale. But doing networking and reaching out to other authors and other writers or even other people who write the same genres as I do are all really, really important. And sometimes it's so easy to forget when we're lost our own little fictional world as we're writing, or even nonfictional world if we write nonfiction, then it's important to take that time to have a break, whatever that break looks like for you. But don't lose the connection with other people. Make sure you're reaching out on a regular basis with other people. Either business-wise you're doing networking. Maybe you have a writers group that you meet weekly with, or you have a book club that you meet with. And personally, you're also spending time with friends and people who you care about and who also care about you.
[00:20:51] Along those same lines, staying healthy. Definitely a $10000 per hour task. It is so easy, especially as writers, I think because we're so sedentary, we're often just sitting at our desks typing away or brainstorming or things like that and it can be hard to stay healthy. But this is also important. And lastly, I would add self-care. This is an extremely important $10000 per hour task. Don't just write and write and write, and work and work and work to make your books take off, or your business take off. You need to schedule in time for self-care to make sure you're not depleting yourself. Be sure to take care of yourself. And especially if you are someone who is pretty much on their own and you don't have a lot of support, then self-care is even more important. Be sure to check in with yourself. Set a weekly reminder for yourself to do so, or schedule time for yourself to do so. A few hours each week, or maybe an hour each day. Something I like to do in the mornings and the evenings is in addition to some prayers, I'll do some meditation, I'll do some reflection, I'll just think about where my life is. Where do I want it to go that day, or the next day, or the rest of the year? What are the problems I'm dealing with? Let me sit down and just take some time to think about those. Even that is self-care and it can be really helpful.
[00:22:09] So that was the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule, as well as how you should be valuing your time, not in the effort, but in the outcome received. Don't forget to check out the blog for more details and for a chart that can help you visualize this a little bit more. Now I want to hear from you. What do you think about these different buckets, about how much your time is really worth? Do you agree, why or why not? Head to the blog or join our community on Facebook to let me know, the link's in the show notes. I'd also be very grateful if you could leave a review for this podcast wherever you like to listen. Thank you.
[00:23:20] Thank you for listening to this episode. Check out the show notes for links to my blog and our community where you can get involved in the discussion and support others. While you're there, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to get to free and powerful tools to help you. One: access to my growing library of free resources for authors; and Two: you'll also get access to my exclusive writing challenge "How to Write Faster in 14 Days" where I share all my tips and techniques that helped me finish over 20 works in five years. Check out the show notes for all the links and thanks again for being part of this community.