I’ve got a question from David about structuring your week. A few years ago, I learned something about being an entrepreneur, which I didn’t know happened to me, but did. Then I realised it happens to nearly everyone. And no one tells you about this.
That is, you’ve got a job. It’s imposed upon you, when you turn up or when you finish. You have to ask permission for everything. Please boss, can I go to toilet? Please boss, can I go home? Please, boss.
And you have this dream that one day, you don’t have to ask anyone permission for anything. Yes, exactly. I have that dream too, Rob. Yes, there’s all this structure and process imposed upon you, which affixiates you. Listen to me in the big words.
Then it’s day one of your own entrepreneurial venture. And you’ve a desk and a computer. You have no idea what to do with your time. You have no one breathing down your neck. There’s no accountability. There’s no checking in, checking out, deadlines when you start, when you finish, when you can take lunch. And you can spend months just in a daze, going around and around.
Some people even go, ah, I kind of miss the structure. I kind of miss the team and the people. Because now, they’ve seen the other side. And people don’t tell you that shit. Because you’ve never managed your own day compartmentalised. Booking in your own lunch. Booking in one-to-ones. This is when you submit expenses. This is when you do this and that. You’ve never done that. Someone’s done it for you, i.e., your employer.
It is a massive culture shock to a lot of people. And they don’t know how to handle it. And they waste a lot of time. That’s why I wrote my book, Routine Equals Results. That book, I thought, would just be a little cult book of mine, i.e., wouldn’t maybe sell as many as a lot of the others. But it’s actually probably my most practical book. It basically teaches you how to build your own ideal daily structure.
And the answer to nearly everyone’s question as an entrepreneur or property investor about, how do I manage my time? How do I focus? How do I know what I should be doing? How do I stop distractions and interruptions? How do I get more shit done? How do I know what’s making me the money, and what’s not? All of that stuff, the answer is a clear, structured compartmentalised diary.
The paradox of that, is, most entrepreneurs don’t want that, because they want freedom. But have you heard Jocko Willink say, Discipline Equals Freedom. Well, I believe in your time management structured equals freedom. Because, if you have a solid structure, you can finish at 3:00, if you’ve done all your shit by 3:00. I’ve done most of my work by 8:30 am. And I have a fairly loose structure after that.
Structure equals freedom. What you do, and I’ll just talk it quickly, David, through what the book does. What I’m not a fan of, is all these people saying, ah, well, if you want to get more done, get less sleep. Well, I find it really frustrating that there’s people saying, get less sleep. And there’s people saying, well, you die young, if you don’t get enough sleep.
Then there’s Margaret Thatcher and Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently living on 4 or 5 hours sleep a day. And Donald Trump and blah, blah, blah. Then there’s people saying, science shows that you need 7 or 8 hours, or whatever. Well, I actually believe neither of those. I believe that we’ll all individual. You’ve to figure out your optimum amount of sleep.
I know what mine is, and it ain’t 5 hours, because I’ve tried it. It just kills me. I’d love it to be 5 hours, and it’s not. Maybe, if I was less active, it might be less. If maybe, I was older and slower, and have a slower metabolism, it will be less. But I ain’t that.
I need 9:30 to 5:00, 10:00 to 5:15, 9:15 to 4:45. And I’ve tested anywhere from 9:00 am to 4:00 am, all the way through to 11:00, sorry, 9:00 pm to 4:00 am, all the way through to about 11:30 pm to 7:00 am. And I’ve tested the longest version and the shortest version of that. And I’ve settled on ideally for me, 9:30 to 5:00, 9:30 pm to 5:00 am.
I can’t tell you that’s right for you, because I work so much better in the morning. But artists, and creators, and the night owls work better in the evening. So, the last thing the night owl should be doing is going to bed earlier. It’s society that defines when you should go to bed and when you should get up, when you’re an employee.
But actually, your optimum time for work might not be 9:00 to 5:00. It might be 12:00 to 11:00. I’m a big believer that we are different, and there are different types of people. It’s probably based on what you’re used to. When you have your coffee? What kind of work you do? When you’re interrupted? Because some people have got good at working at 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Not necessarily, because that was what was optimum for them in the early days. Because that’s the only time, they can get any peace.
Then after a while, it’s just an anchored habit, because that’s what our brain does. And we just perk up at 9:00. I’m the opposite. I’m on it, between 5:30 am and 8:00 am. Because 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, the kids aren’t up yet so I’m not getting interrupted. That’s when the coffee shop opens at 5:300 am.
That’s the first thing. Because, if you think about it, I know this is, everyone says it, and it’s kind of a bit boring, but it’s got to be said. But I reckoned a lot of people who I’m helping, or some of my staff, or some people I see, and they’re struggling, I think, well, you’d probably not getting enough sleep. And that’s probably the main factor. You’re probably working too hard, and you’re stressed. You’re probably eating like shit, and you’re not exercising. If you get those basics, then at least you’ve ticked all those off as the reasons.
I’m a big fan of you working out what that is best for you. And that book helps you go through that. It basically gives you a template of a series of test you do over 21 days, of when to get up, and when to go to bed, and when you need it, and when you’re not, et cetera. So, that’s the first thing. Get those basics right.
Then the next thing, is, once you’ve worked out your ebbs and flows, and highs and lows in the day, what do you put where. And what you want to do, is, you want to put your income generating tasks and your key result areas in the times in the day, when you are on high energy. And for me, that’s 5:45 am till 8:00 – 8:30 am. It’s 10:30 – 11:00 am till about 3:00 pm. They’re the two pockets of time, where I’m more on fire. I try and maximise that time with income generating tasks and key result areas. So, they get compartmentalised.
And then the next thing, and this is important for entrepreneurs, because we often get this really badly wrong. We’re obsessed over business, because most entrepreneurs are quite obsessive. Then what happens. We don’t get down to the gym anymore. We don’t see our friends. We don’t see our kids or our partners that much. And we’re hustling away, but we get a bit obsessed.
Then our other areas called the key life areas started to go a bit of a ride. We’ve only got a certain amount of goodwill in the bank, where you can say to someone, ah, well, you know I’m just trying to make a living. But you know, what I mean. F**k off, or no. Please support me. But you know there are plenty entrepreneurs then divorce, and don’t see their kids. It’s not always that reason. But I wouldn’t want that to be you.
A couple of regrets I’ve got. I don’t have many. But one, is, when I got into business with Mark, and we started in property, I was a pretty good martial artist. I had a brown belt, a black belt, a blue belt. And I really loved it. I was at the peak of my fitness at that point in my life. And I just got obsessed by business, and I just stopped. I love martial arts. It made me feel really good. It gave me that outlook. There was a competitive element. There was progressive improvement element.
I’m not saying I’m 40 now, and I don’t think I could be good anymore. But I’ve just got out of the habit of it, 15 years of not doing it. I shouldn’t have stopped. I should have just made sure that 3 times a week I train. I’d have just put in the diary. And that will make that priority.
What are your key life areas? Hopefully, if you’ve got children, you’re spending time with them. If you’ve got a partner, you’re spending time with them and your main hobbies. I know this sounds weird, but it’s actually not. You put it in the diary. Because, if you don’t put date nights, twice a week in the diary, you’ll just always find a reason why it always gets postponed. Whereas, if it’s in the diary, and there’s do not remove, it’s done. And you’ll do it.
There’s definitely been years, and I’m talking years with me and my wife, where we’ve just lived in this parallel universe, where I let her crack on with her, and she’s let me crack on with her shit. Then all of a sudden 2 years goes, we hardly see each other. And we’ve grown, you know, we’re not growing apart, we’re still married. We’re still good. But we’ve grown, the distance has grown. We kind of recommitted maybe about a year ago, to not do that.
We book lunches in twice a week. We book a date night in once a week. I know it’s the right thing to do. It still sounds weird booking a date night in with your wife via your PA. But it’s important. Because I’m an obsessive person. I can wake up, and I’ll be doing something for 3 years, and I don’t even know what happened as many entrepreneurs are.
I know a lot of entrepreneurs who haven’t been to the gym for 2 years. And they tell themselves the reason why. Well, I’m hustling in my business. But it doesn’t take much. It’s only 30 minutes in the gym, 3 times a week. You just have to slot it in.
Key life areas, key result areas, income generating tasks, important meetings, they will get put in first, and then admin and spare time, and then what you do for other people, is, just in the gaps. And if you follow the steps in Routine Equal Results, the important thing, is, this can’t be someone else’s structure.
People often ask me, Rob, what are your daily habits? What’s your routines? Why I haven’t answered what I do, from 4:45 in the morning till 9:30 at night, is because I don’t want you to copy my structure. I want you to create your own based on what I’d learned creating mine.