Deciding How to Spend Your Time

When you are building your own business, there are thousands of actions you must take on your journey. Taking the most appropriate actions that result in business growth are obviously critical to your success. The problem for a lot of new entrepreneurs is deciding what exactly they should be doing on a weekly or even daily basis.

For example, you might have an idea of a marketing campaign that costs $5000 but could net you $20000 revenue. However, until you run the campaign, you really have no idea if it is going to be a success or a failure. Even if you are a very experienced entrepreneur, a campaign that worked in the past is not necessarily going to work in the future.

Most business owners are idea generators. On any given day, they might drum up 10 or 20 new ideas that may or may not launch their business to a new level. If you are like this, my question to you is…. how do you decide what action you are going to take? From there, how do you know if you’ve made a good or bad move? What criteria helps you make your decision?

Please share your ideas and strategies in the comments section below. I think we can all learn from each other on this one!

PS. I make mention of the blog Ice Blue Banana. Check out the blog post about time management here: http://www.icebluebanana.com/how-to-determine-if-you-use-your-time-wisely

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16 Responses to Deciding How to Spend Your Time

  1. Ted Payne July 13, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    Great video and great question.

    This is definitely something I struggle with. I think in the end the best choice is to just pick one strategy and try it.

    It is only a bonus if you have a bunch of ideas swirling in your head, because then you can try something and if it doesn’t work move on to something else.

    It is also great if you can combine strategies. Some ideas are passive and you can set them up and kind of monitor them while you take your more active strategies and fire away on those.
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    • Justin Popovic July 13, 2010 at 8:38 am #

      Good point. I usually have a number of ideas and then I once I begin to work on them, I struggle trying to determine how long I go before I know if it is a winning or losing idea. I think in some cases I have quit way too soon whereas in other cases, I stuck with a strategy way too long and it cost me time and money.

  2. Tracy Brown July 13, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Hi Justin, this is such a good question! And it’s one I struggle with too. In fact my business partner Gordon and I have had to put a moratorium on “hey, I have a new idea!” until we have either followed through on completing our current good ROI projects, or until we have a new spot open up in our schedule. This was hard for me at first because I do not like to say “no.” But I have learned to say it to be more efficient in my current projects.

    It can be tough to stop a project too. Sometimes you get so invested in “but I planned to do this because this was supposed to work/be a good thing” that it is tough to just end it, cut losses, regroup, and go in a different direction. But that will happen a lot as you move forward and grow.

    Having said all that, how do I choose what to do on a weekly and daily basis? Well, I have two companies (one is an LLC and the other is a sole proprietorship) so I plan in advance looking ahead a week at a time what I need to accomplish for each entity. Then, the night before each day, I pencil in my schedule – it’s both a time-tracker and to-do list. I have learned to keep a couple of hours free for the things that crop up that need immediate attention. If nothing does, I simply extend the time allotted for my project(s) into that “free time.”

    Still, I am constantly learning and looking for ways to improve my decision-making with regards on where to focus my attention. It’s challenging, sure, but it’s also very empowering!

    Looking forward to reading other comments and ideas! Thanks again Justin for yet another great question and video! You provide good food for thought!

    • Justin Popovic July 13, 2010 at 8:52 am #

      Thanks for your input Tracy. I was reading your comment I was smiling because I am the exact same way. I get so many ideas and I get excited about each and every one of them. The truth is, you can only ever do one thing at a time and you MUST complete ideas to actually determine if they are going to work.

      That brings up another issue I struggle with. I start an idea but don’t follow through to completion and am left wondering if it may have worked had I actually finished what I started. So many things to learn 🙂

  3. Chris Eh Young July 13, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    If you want to send out a mailer to get speaking gigs, I have a formula that I got from Brendon Burchard. It is a better theory than just mailers.

    Deciding what idea to work on next, I usually put a few feeler question out to a few trusted friends and perhaps Twitter. I then gauge the interest and feedback I get. I figure that if I can get one or two people to go Wow, I might be able to get a lot more.

    You know how I am with too many ideas and not enough implementation.

    For business growth strategies, I have a whole lot of mp3’s I listen to when I need some inspiration. I find that one good idea is usually enough to lead into a strategy. I listen to the guys that have been there, where I want to go. Mentors are a great source of advice, guidance, and direction.

    • Justin Popovic July 13, 2010 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks for the input Chris. I would love to know more about Brendon Burchard. I have heard about him because of all the “Hype” but I’m sure there is some serious value in what he teaches. Anything you can share would be awesome.

      Getting some early input from advisors is a great idea and I have done it. But I also find that some people will agree with me and we could all be wrong and I end up having to test the idea regardless….only to later realize it wasn’t going to work. I guess it is all part of the learning process.

  4. Jay July 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I think it comes down to writing out the ideas just like goal setting. They need to be addressed individually. I like the time tracker on ice blue banana. That type of time keep is what got me through school. Unfortunately since I became involved in the corporate world, that schedule was dissolved and now I am in the process of training myself again to follow a time line for each day. My other dilemma is setting reasonable goals for the day. You want to get as much accomplished as possible but there are limits and they need to be realistic which is another area for improvement for me.

    At that point it becomes information overload and less traction is gained as a result.

    • Justin Popovic July 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

      I hear ya. My post a few weeks ago about setting reasonable outcomes for your day is a biggie in this situation. I guess the key is to learn, as quickly as possible, how much you can accomplish in a work day and plan accordingly.

  5. Neil July 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Hi Justin,

    I think that when you have arrived at a destination, or goal and look back it, sometimes the path you took was not what you thought it would be when you started off.

    There is the example of an airplane that sets off from Toronto, and heads for Paris. It is off course most of the time, but the pilot makes minor adjustments occasionally, to get the plane back on course, and it lands in Paris.

    We need to make adjustments along the way, because we are learning new things as we go.

    You are very lucky it only took a half day before you realized your project wasn’t the direction you wanted to go in. It would take me a few days to get the site up. LOL

    Anyway that’s my.02 CDN, and can’t leave without a quote…

    “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm”.

    Winston Churchill

    Take care,

    Neil

    • Justin Popovic July 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

      Hey Neil,
      Thanks for the great comment. I love the analogy. It really is all about learning along the way and using your best judgment moving forward. I guess it is impossible to know the exact steps for most big goals ahead of time, but we can at least get started and adjust our course as we see fit.

      Thanks!

  6. mark July 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Hey Justin,

    First of all, thanks for the mention! There are some wonderful comments in the post you linked to, and I believe that you started some of that commentary moving down an interesting path. I am always shocked at the depth of thought that some commentators display in these conversations.

    Anyway, this is a great question & one that I struggle with almost constantly. I don’t know that you can always avoid making a mistake and having to give something up every once in a while.

    Its funny though, even if the idea is good, there are other things that can kill an idea. I took on a development project a while back that, while the concept was good, one of the ‘team members’ was quite against doing a few things (due to personal beliefs) that everyone else thought were important to the success of the project. Well, the project went south after there were enough disagreements, and the remaining people had lost the drive to finish it. Its really a shame. It was a great idea & to Neil’s point, I learned so many things from that experience.

    To copy a bit more off of Neil, Thomas Edison, said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

    The bottom line for me is to just keep on trying things. If something does not work out, at least that experience will help you with what you do next.

    Have a great day!
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    • Justin Popovic July 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

      No problem Mark. I really enjoy your blog and I was happy to mention it. Jay left a comment saying that he got value from your article so it is great to have such a good group among all of us here.

      I am the same way regarding “trying things”. If you try something that doesn’t work you can sit around feeling bad or embarrassed that you took the wrong steps or you can brush it off and just try something else. I have done this so many times that I have developed a pretty thick skin and it doesn’t really bother me at all when people look at some of my failed ideas and potentially judge me for “failing”. I chalk it all up to experience!

      Thanks for your comment and the inspiration for the video today.

      • Neil July 14, 2010 at 11:57 am #

        A pet peeve of mine is the people that laugh, criticize, etc.

        They are the ones that are either to ignorant, or scared to do anything about their lives, and feel threatened, and jealous, that you are not.

        I feel a rant coming on so…. gotta go 🙂

        Stick with the winners.

        Neil

        • Justin Popovic July 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

          Love it! I actually would have quite enjoyed that rant! But we are definitely on the same page with this one.

  7. Ben Tien July 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Hi Justin,

    That’s why have to learn about time management. Effective time management involves patience and practical thinking. It’s really difficult to manage time. But once you know the secret it will be much easier. When you decide and get right down to it, it becomes much easier. Time management is really about managing your actions. We all want to maintain the process of time management to allow us to perform more actions in the day, getting everything done that needs to be done and giving us time to do the things we enjoy doing.
    Ben Tien recently posted..Information about Spiritual Life Coaching

    • Justin Popovic July 25, 2010 at 7:44 am #

      Nice comment Ben. Way easier said than done though. I have 2 young boys and a wife that I want to spend a lot of time with. When you are a full time entrepreneur, the reality of life is that sometimes you have to spend a lot of time working. Time management, or activity management, is not something that can be easily arranged and implemented. I believe it is an ongoing effort that you can improve on though, that’s for sure.

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