How to buy back your time, a solution to stop drowning in emails, and optimizing your creative energy

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

​Insight 1: Buy back your time

We all know our time is precious, but when was the last time you took an inventory of how, exactly, you spend your time?

Khe Hy calls this a time audit, and in this article, he dives into the issue many entrepreneurs struggle with: getting so caught up in tasks that are important and urgent, you neglect everything that’s important but not urgent on the Eisenhower Matrix:

Photo by Khe Hy

Some of the most common tasks that falls under the “important but not urgent” category? Things that lead to you working on your business instead of in it, like building out your value ladder by developing other products.

The more time we spend on 1:1 tasks like client work, the less time we have to build things that scale more effectively.

When you feel locked into doing 1:1 work, it’s hard to break the cycle.

But there’s another way to think about it…

Let’s say you charge $500/h and see 10 clients a week. Then you create a product (like a digital course). For every $500 in revenue that product generates each week, you just bought back an hour of your time.

Now, you can spend that hour however you want—reading, developing other courses and offers, spending time with loved ones, anything.

But until you perform a time audit, you won’t have an accurate breakdown of where you’re allocating your time—and where you need to reallocate it.

​Insight 2: Stop responding to every email

How much time do you spend swimming through your inbox?

Newsletters you forgot about, marketing emails you didn’t sign up for, requests for an interview, customer service stuff, and the constant trickle of low-priority emails rushing to fill up your time, energy, and attention…it’s easy to feel like you’re barely treading water to stem the floods of nonstop messages.

So how does a CEO spend less than 10 minutes a day on emails? Across four businesses?

Christine Carrillo is a badass (for many reasons), but she’s developed an incredibly efficient approach to email.

Between moving internal communications to a dedicated non-email channel, building templated responses to frequent questions, refer people to where you’ve already answered that question online (I use this a ton and it’s super helpful), and filter for the small percentage of emails you personally need to respond to (she suggests using an assistant).

If you want to learn more about her approach to email, check out Christine’s thread on her process:

​Insight 3: Learn to balance making and managing

You’re probably familiar with the “maker vs. manager” concept popularized by Paul Graham.

Makers needs large swaths of uninterrupted time to do deep work, while managers thrive on tons of meetings and tasks throughout the day.

Some of us are predominately makers, some are predominately managers. But an increasing number of us are both, and struggle to reconcile these seemingly mutually exclusive schedules.

How can you set up a maker’s schedule to so you can get into a flow state and create incredible content (products, articles, etc.) but also schedule meetings to collaborate, do interviews, repurpose content to grow on social media, talk with your accountant, and all the other things you have to do to run a successful business as a creative entrepreneur?

In this Farnam Street article, Shane Parrish and team dive into ways you can reconcile both schedules to find a balance that works for you:

“Defining the type of schedule we need is more important than worrying about task management systems or daily habits.”

​Question for the Week

What’s the simplest change you can make this week to free up an hour of your time, so you can spend it more meaningfully?

​Coaching Corner

This week’s question is from Yash:

“How do you learn to trust yourself and your decision-making abilities?”

My first question is: why don’t you trust yourself?

  • Do you have low self-esteem/Imposter Syndrome?
  • Are you objectively competent enough to make an informed decision, or do you need to learn more?
  • What does your track record suggest about your ability to make the right decision?

I’m a huge fan of evidence when it comes to reframing how we think about ourselves and our abilities.

  • What evidence do you have to support the idea that your judgment sucks?
  • What evidence do you have to support the idea that your judgment has lead to positive outcomes in the past?

Remember: Feelings aren’t facts.

But your track record—the number of times your decisions lead to a positive or negative outcome—is a fact.

Sometimes we need to look to the past to inform our future (this may sound like something you’d find in a fortune cookie, but bare with me).

One of my mentors who’s a psychologist used to tell me, “Past behavior predicts future behavior.”

It’s a simple heuristic, but gets the point across:

If you’ve made well-reasoned decisions that lead to positive outcomes in the past, and you’re continuing to refine your decision-making abilities today, you’ll more than likely continue to make well-reasoned decisions that may lead to positive outcomes in the future.

So stop asking me how you can trust yourself.

Start looking at your track record, refine your decision-making process, and go kick some ass.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!

My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person you think would find it valuable.

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Until next time—memento mori,


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