When Time Permits

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 6 min read

10 years ago, if you wanted to hire me, I would’ve quoted you a custom job.

That’s because I used to quote every job as a custom job.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Let’s talk about food.

How to Dice an Onion

Yesterday, as I often do, I made something delicious for dinner.

I started by dicing an onion. If you are someone who cooks, you know exactly how I accomplished this.

pink and white garlic on white surface

First, I sliced the onion in half through the root. Next, I laid the onion flat and made vertical slices from edge to edge, being careful not to cut through the root. Finally, I turned the onion and made cut horizontally across the slices. Voila! A diced onion.

Time Permit: Standardize The Method

This method is substantially faster and produces a much more consistent result than the alternative of haphazardly cutting pieces off of the onion and then attempting to cut each random chunk into a consistent sized square.

Every time I dice an onion using this standard method, I’m reminded of the catering events I’d done where I had to dice 10-20 onions. This method of dicing an onion helps me when I cooking at home, but it was even more important when I had a much larger task and teammates who were counting on me to move quickly and efficiently.

Speaking of teams…

1.82 Seconds

In the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, the Red Bull Pit Team set a new world record when they lifted a 1,500 lb. car and changed four tires in 1.82 seconds. That world record time was .06 seconds faster than their previous world record.

Time Permit: Standardize Roles

Everyone had a role to play from the four guys who pulled off the tires, to the four guys who put on the tires, to the two jack guys. The roles were planned out in advance. The roles were rehearsed. The results were extraordinary.

Lorem Ipsum

When building a website or writing a document, sometimes you don’t have your copy ready. In cases like this, you insert placeholder copy. You’ve seen this many times before.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque pharetra lorem non metus cursus, in feugiat odio tristique. Donec imperdiet tristique mattis.

I used to generate this text by going here, entering the number of paragraphs that I wanted, selecting and copying the text that was generated, then going back and pasting it into my original document. This would, depending on my WiFi connection and website load times, take me approximately 20 seconds.

Time Permit: Automate Processes

I now use a tool called TextExpander. It’s a text replacement app that lets me type shortcut keywords and phrases and then replaces it with predefined text. when I type ;lorem TextExpander will insert 5 paragraphs of Lorem ipsum copy. It takes me about 3 seconds. Every time I do this now, I’m reclaiming 17 seconds.

It might not seem like a lot but, let your mind wander.

Finding the Time Stone

I am currently listening to an audio book called How to Train Your Mind by Chris Bailey. It’s mostly about the benefits of meditation, but during the early part of the book, he said something that caught my attention. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that all productivity tips and advice must be a net positive return on time investment. In other words, if you put a minute into a piece of productivity advice, it should return more than 1 minute of your life back to you.

Setting up my TextExpander for lorem ipsum took about 1 minute. I’ve used it a little over 200 times. That’s about 56 minutes of my life back and I have a little over 100 snippets ranging from hex color codes, to sales email templates, to hashtag lists. That’s just the time I’ve saved using this one tool.

Imagine saving seconds here and there. Think what it would mean if you could save minutes, or even hours. Think about all of those custom proposals, all of that custom pricing, and all of those emails you’ve been writing and rewriting for years.

Think about how those seconds, minutes, and hours, smash into other responsibilities and how getting that time back would affect your mood, your focus, and your creativity.

Kill Off Custom

A few years after starting my agency, I noticed that…

  • most of my proposals wound up looking similar.
  • most of my strategy documents wound up looking similar.
  • most of my projects took about the same amount of time.

So, I came up with a rule:

If I’ve done something three times, I standardize it, and build a system or process for it.

If you want to unlock the secret of creating time…this is it.

Time Permit: Create Templates

I started making templates. I started standardizing my pricing. I started making it easy to do the work and easy for people to work with me.

I killed custom and gave birth to scale.

Eliminate, automate, or template anything repeatable. The sooner you do it, the faster you can scale.

The Systems of Life & Business

Today, I want you to consider this recommendation. It may sound incredibly counterintuitive or it may sound profoundly ordinary, but I hope you will try it.

  1. Start by slowing down, if you want to move fast.
  2. Plan out everything.
  3. Build it to be repeatable.
  4. Build everything you need before you launch.
  5. …THEN, launch.

Time Permit: Take Your Time At The Start

Follow this process every time…but only if you want more time and a more scalable business.

It’s time we stop building the car while it’s on the road. We only do that because we’re scared. What we don’t realize, is that 3-months later, we’d be in a much better place had we just done it right from the start.

Cheatsheet: 10 places to find time

  • Your service offerings (create 3-5 standard packages)
  • Create an estimate template (so you can quickly give pricing)
  • Document the steps of your sales process
  • Create sales email templates (initial meeting, follow-up, sending proposal, following up on cold lead, etc)
  • Create a template for your proposals (if you have a multitude of packages, create a template for each or a master template that accommodates all options)
  • Tighten up your agreements
  • Create document templates for your various deliverables
  • Create a content calendar
  • Start using block scheduling
  • Invest in a calendar (like calendly or acuity) tool so people can pick times right from your calendar

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