Personal Finance

Is the Hype Justified? Yes It Is.

May 1, 2016 | Personal Finance

CalendarI wrote my “to do” list for the week. I like to separate the items into 4 groups:
1. Not important and not urgent.
2. Not important and urgent.
3. Important and not urgent.
4. Important and urgent.

Ideally, I take care of the 3rd group, so that no task ever gets added to the 4th group. If you are wondering which tasks go into the 3rd group, they are those that get you closer to your chief goal. The process by which tasks fall into the 4th category is by following an insidious habit called procrastination.

In this article, we won’t dive into the reasons for procrastinating, but suffice it to say that after many years of research, it is my conclusion that this habit originates mainly because individuals don’t believe they will succeed at what they set out to do. For example, they may suffer from a lack of self-confidence.

A well-executed work schedule is one in which the 4th group remains empty. Why allow any important task to become urgent?

In my master plan this week, there were many items. They absolutely vary across many subjects. I like to categorize them by the following constant “life fields”:
1. Sleep, physical activity, and nutrition.
2. Business activity.
3. Quality time with my wife.
4. Quality time with family.
5. Quality time with friends.
6. Quality time with the one and only (myself, that is).

These are the most important categories of my life. Spiritual time, in case you are wondering, is within category 6, and travelling time is included in categories 2-5. By sticking to constant “life fields,” balance is easier to achieve. The initial planning here in “life fields” is intended to provide a healthy blend of activities. By keeping them constant, I don’t have to waste time on them every week, just change the mix of the “cocktail” – the time allocation I devote to each. 
Then, in the business category, in particular, I break them down to the 4 groups above. We all have many items on our plate, and we must be laser-focused on the high-ticket items. But when you begin to break down tasks into 4 groups, there are sometimes tens of “to do” items. What do you do with all the tasks in front of you so as to not get overwhelmed? Thus, free market capitalism came up with an efficient solution. There is a hype around this solution these days. It’s becoming a standard solution, and I believe the hype is certainly justified. If you know how to use it in your life, then every passing second will be more joyful. This solution is not a big secret… you already know about it, and you probably know people who use it. If you aren’t part of the crowd yet, then you still haven’t experienced pure bliss. Let me say that as far as I am aware, all rich individuals use this valuable resource, and thus accomplish way more than others. So what is all the hype about?
In two words: personal assistant.

Before you dismiss the idea right off the bat or go back to the “If you want it done right, do it yourself” camp, allow me to present a case study and a number of tricks I have up my sleeve, along with actionable items for fast decision makers.

What is a personal assistant? Lior’s definition (easy to follow): 
A part-time/full-time/freelance hired help who takes care of items in groups 1, 2, and 4.

You should focus on group 3 (important and not urgent) and group 4 (important and urgent). You can also assign the P.A. to group 4 tasks, since they are urgent.

Why would you pay someone to do things that are on your “to do” list? 
The simple and powerful answer consists of 3 parts:
1. Because it frees up your most valuable resource: time.
2. Because it allows you to focus on the big-ticket items of your business.
3. Because it provides balance.

Here’s a variety of things that personal assistants can do outside of business activities:
1. Research online for any info.
2. Book reservations, appointments, pay bills, and order online.
3. Shop (groceries, etc.)
4. Run errands.
5. Cook.
6. Cleaning and laundry.

Obviously, a housekeeper or a maid can do the last items. The point is neither your wife, your kids, nor you should be occupied with these. I know a lot of people who believe that teaching children “hard work” is a good lesson, but instead, may I suggest that you explain to them the importance of hiring others to wash dishes, while they read books and get smarter and better prepared for life. Life is precious, and though it is ingrained into parents to teach our children to become independent and to be hard workers, I believe that teaching by way of example is the most effective. If they are to do chores, a good idea would be to send them to help with the community activities.

These activities may not sound important, and they really aren’t. These are realities that one has to take care of. These are also some of the biggest time wasters that distance you from doing what you really want. You can’t have it both ways: either you become a goal-driven master of your fate kind of individual that is willing to allocate a certain budget each month for P.A.s OR become a do-it-yourselfer who saves some money, but never has the lifestyle that he dreams of. This is the truth. If it hurts, it’s because it’s the hard truth. You deserve to hear it.

Now, to business. P.As can be a source of immense help (thing Doug and Seth, if you watch “House of Cards”). If you build trust, they can be there for many years (or decades) and become a sort of confidant.

Here’s a variety of business activities that they can do, but remember that each of us is involved in a different line of work, so make your own adaptations and additions.
1. Reply to emails (huge time saver). Obviously, set boundaries on which you allow the P.A to reply to, and use general scripts to help them blend in fast.
2. Answer calls (or use a LIVE call center).
3. Prepare presentations (editing, PDF, Excel, etc…) I don’t do any of that myself. I don’t do any of that. My time is spent ONLY on what generates the greatest return on the time I spend.
4. Second opinion: a source of feedback to much of the creative work you get done.
5. Schedule organizer: making sure you are on track.

I find that cultivating key relationships, improving my unique set of skills specific for the business I am involved in (think improving speaking skills for a lawyer, improving turning and maneuvering for a fighter pilot), and the most important thing — making sales — are what I should be doing. Without being able to actually generate the revenue and come up with new revenue streams, your business is not growing. In fact, it is losing ground.

So is the hype justified? Try it for yourself and see. 
You can begin small. Hire someone on a probation period. Learn how this works. Even hire someone who is in a 3rd-world country that speaks great English and costs next to nothing. There are many services that are out there, and the person on the other end can’t wait to get started doing your non-productive action items. It’s a new world out there, and you have goals to accomplish.

Good luck!