This weekly post details the changes in my business I have made over the last few years in pursuit of “work life balance” and transitioning to working 30 hours a week. I own 5 companies that own residential real estate rentals, a national website for out of state real estate investors, a real estate brokerage company in two states, and one of the largest real estate education event platforms in Chicago. I went from working 80 hours a week to working 30 hours a week (most of the time) by making small adjustments to my business.
Week 1 – Declining in person meetings
One of the most impactful changes I made in my business was declining in person meetings. Think about it, how much more is accomplished in person vs over the phone? Not much. I have been working with my insurance broker for over 3 years, and he insures 28 properties for me, and we have never met. Why? Because we don’t need to. My lender funds millions of dollars a year for my clients, and I see him once a year in a social setting. I don’t need to see them in person to have a strong business relationship. By not doing in person meetings it gives me more time with my family and in my business.
Think about your day… I work from home so my day is spent in yoga pants in front of a computer. If I have an in-person meeting then I need to wash my hair, style my hair, do my makeup, and put on real clothes, that is about an hour. Then I need to drive to and from the meeting, that is another hour. That is 2 hours of my day wasted when a 30 minute phone call would have accomplished the same goal.
I get 10-15 meeting requests a week from various people, assume I accept 10 of them and plan them over two days back to back – That is 8 hours a week getting ready and driving to these meetings that I could have spent doing other things. 8 Hours a week! That is a full day of work wasted.
Last week I spoke at an event on real estate investing for over an hour, the next day I got 18 requests to meet with me, and not a single one would have accomplished less by doing a phone call. One of those requests was from a marketing company who “after hearing you speak think we have a few projects we are working on that would be a good fit”
Great! What are the projects?
You need to come in for a meeting so we can show you
No, I can do a phone call?
I was expecting the phone call to be about these projects that they mentioned, but the phone call was “how they have worked with ABC company to do XYZ” which has no relation to my business and how I need to come into the studio so they can show me. So I asked what they do? We help business increase sales. How? What do you do? We work with other companies like yours to increase business. But how? What exactly do you do?
So after looking at their website, a few emails back and forth, and a phone call I still have no idea what they do. I would have thought that after hearing me speak about my business for over an hour they would at least have been able to give me one sentence on how they can help my business. So I already wasted 1 hour, why would I give up another 2 hours getting ready and driving to the meeting + 1 hour in the meeting to learn about something that may not even been relevant to me? I could spend that time with my family or working directly in my business. If you can’t give me a reason that I should work an additional 3 hours this week to meet with you, then I will not do business with you.
When I started looking at it that way, “time wasted = less personal time” it was a lifestyle shift. Every hour spent doing something unnecessary is coming out of my personal time or preventing me from doing things that actually make me money.
Of course there are instances where I do meet people in person; my business partners, my staff, my clients. But only when it is absolutely necessary. I have people that work for me that I only see once a quarter. We may talk daily/weekly but a status report meeting can just as easily be accomplished over the phone.
So start asking yourself “Is this meeting worth X hours out of my personal time?”
If the answer is no, don’t take it.
For me, 95% of the time the answer is no and by declining in person meetings I estimate I saved myself over 10 hours a week, which let me spend more time driving my business forward and giving me more personal time.