How To Identify Your High-Value Activities That Earn You the Most Money Over Time
I’ve been busy answering a lot of emails this week.
It’s really bugging me. You know why? Email doesn’t make me any money. Every minute I spend in my inbox is a minute I could’ve spent working on things that directly translate into money, into real progress for my business.
I’ve been working for myself as an entrepreneur for over three years now. One of the biggest lessons I’ve come to learn is this:
If you spend your time the right way, you could make a lot of money.
The problem is, it’s really easy to get off-track and slip into busyness, doing things that seem important but really aren’t. In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey divided all activities into four categories based on two traits, important and urgent:
Covey’s lesson was simple: the more time you spend on the right activities, the better your life will be. But when you get caught up in unimportant, not urgent activities, you waste significant time and energy not really accomplishing anything.
This is how you can identify your high-value activities that will make you the most income and progress over time.
For me, I’ve discovered there are three main activities that get me the most money:
- Writing great content
- Creating great products
- Selling those products
The more I do those three things, the better my business will be (and the better I’ll feel). They’re important, and usually urgent. If I can focus the bulk of my time on these three activities, everything else will fall into place.
Here’s how to identify your own high-level activities that earn you the most money over time.
To Achieve World-Class Success, You Have to Focus on the Right Stuff
If you get really good at a couple of the right things, you could make millions.
But it only works if you spend a lot of time doing those right things. Everything else becomes fluff, a distraction from what will truly move the needle.
There’s a book that really changed my marriage: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. It’s one of the main reasons my wife and I have one of the best marriages I’ve ever heard of, years after we said our vows.
The book explains that everyone has five love languages: physical touch, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, and gifts.
To some extent, everyone needs and appreciates all five. But most people have a primary language they like to speak and be spoken to. If you speak someone’s love language, they’ll feel loved. But if you don’t, it doesn’t matter what you do — it’s not really what they’re looking for.
In premarital counseling, my wife and I were told that countless marriages ended in divorce because couples never learned their partner’s primary love language.
Every day, spouses were giving their partners expensive gifts, doing all kinds of chores around the house, praising their spouse, or cuddling with them…but it wasn’t working. Why? Because after all that work, they never really gave their spouse what they wanted — quality time, their primary love language.
You have a similar relationship with your time: you could spend your time in all kinds of ways, ways that might appear very productive and efficient. But if you’re not spending your time doing the “right stuff,” you could work for months and realize you still aren’t much closer to achieving your goals.
If you want to achieve world-class success, you need to identify the right stuff, and spend as much time as possible doing that stuff.
Your schedule might be full of activities that, at the end of the day, aren’t helping you move forward. It’s on you to remove those low-level activities so that you can focus on the right stuff — the activities that make you the most money over time.
Most People Do High-Stress, Low-Income Activities. Do the Opposite.
Most people are stuck doing all sorts of subpar activities and annoying obligations that are fundamentally stressful while yielding low income: unnecessary work meetings, excessive email, office politics, climbing the corporate ladder.
The more time you spend doing these activities, the more stressed you’ll become — and you won’t even be making any more money to show for it.
A while back, I was toying with the idea of creating a high-level business coaching package.
I knew I’d have a lot more sales if I had some testimonials, some proof I could do it. So I reached out to a few old clients, and asked if they wanted the package for free, in exchange for a glowing testimonial.
One of my clients jumped on board, and we started the process.
The first night, I had stress-dreams about work. I never have stress-dreams. That should’ve been my first sign.
The next week, my stress got worse and worse. I started regretting my decision — this was going to be a ton of work, and I wasn’t even getting paid! It was easily mounting to 10–20 hours a week of extra, unpaid work.
I wish I could say I had the confidence and resolve to end things myself, but I had committed and wanted to see it through. It was my client who decided to end it — she said she needed more time to figure her business out, was grateful for my help, but needed to stop the coaching.
I was ecstatic! I breathed a huge sigh of relief after weeks of trying to deny how stressed I was becoming.
Sadly, many people are still stuck in these mediocre, stressful, low (or no) income situations. I spent weeks of stress and worry learning this one lesson:
Don’t spend your time on high-stress, low-income activities. Focus on the right stuff, and everything else will fall into place. Making a lot of money isn’t worth it if you’re waking up in a cold sweat worried about making sales and keeping it all afloat.
If You Don’t Know What To Do, Focus on Impressing the Top Dogs in Your Field
If you don’t know what your most important activities are, then just start doing what the top dogs in your field are doing.
If you don’t have clarity, model those who do and you’ll start getting better results. If you act like the top dogs, odds are you’ll start achieving similar results (not to mention getting some attention and respect from them).
I’m a big basketball fan. There’s been a trend in the NBA recently: previously-dominant players are getting cut from their teams because they’ve become obsolete.
For the most part, these athletes are unable (or unwilling) to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of how the sport is played. Ten years ago, it was common to find slow, plodding seven-feet tall giants on NBA teams. Now, these athletes have become obsolete — smaller and more nimble players easily outplay them.
But some of these players have adapted their game. They play like smaller players, focusing more on quick, agile movements instead of slow, bruising aggression. That used to work, but not anymore.
If you don’t know what to do next, start modeling those who know what they’re doing.
Many people waste years trying to figure out everything themselves. You can speed through years of “paying your dues” by learning from those who have already achieved what you want. These are the top dogs, and they’ve gone through more trials and tribulations than almost anyone else. As Seth Godin once wrote:
“If someone is better than you at something, it’s likely they’ve failed at it more times than you have.”
Model these people. They’ve already made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to. If you don’t know what to focus on, focus on impressing the top dogs in your field. Because if you can impress these people, you know you’re doing something right.
If you can spend your time on the right stuff, you could make millions.
The 80/20 law dictates that 20 percent of what you do can make up to around 80 percent of your overall income. If you keep magnifying this principle, you’ll eventually discover the handful of truly important activities you can do that make a disproportionate amount of your income.
Reinvest as much free time into these activities as possible. Cut out anything that gives you high stress and low income. Life moves fast, and you don’t have a lot of time in this world: to make the most out of your time, spend your time doing the right things to help improve your and your family’s life.
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