How to Make Time
When You Don’t Have Any

I’d like to share a bit of my story with you starting with a conversation I had with the last boss I’ll ever have.

Me to boss: “You know, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately.”

Boss: “Yeah, and I don’t like it.” (Funny how they always want to control you.)

I chuckled a bit and said, “That’s okay, ‘cause I’m fixin’ to put your end out.”

That brought him to a screeching halt.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

I answered, “Through some strategic planning and hard work during my off time, I’ve developed a business that has grown to the point where I can no longer afford to work for you.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“No,” I said. “I’m as serious as a heart attack.”

“Well”, he said, swallowing kind of hard, “Could you at least stay for the next thirty days and teach your replacement the ropes?”

“Sure,” I said, shaking his hand. “It would be a pleasure.”

Thirty days later, I walked out of that office building a free man. I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders as I drove out of that parking lot for the last time.

If your goal is to have a conversation with your boss, just like I had with mine, I can help you.

And the first step to that glorious day: you need to carve out the TIME to make it happen.

The truth of the matter is, lack of time is the biggest obstacle to spare time business success.

If that’s what’s bugging you, I know how you feel. I felt the same way.

When starting a spare time business, most of us simply can't afford to take time away from our “primary means of support” – you know, the one that pays for food, housing, clothing, transportation – to do the things necessary to achieve success.

Besides, most of us can't work on our new businesses during regular business hours because we’re too busy working at our “primary means of support” during that time.

When I was getting started, my “primary means of support” was working 100 hours per week as a business consultant.

Every Monday, I’d get up at 5:00 in the morning, shower, shave and get dressed. I’d be out the door, driving to the airport at 6:00am, just in time to catch the early-bird flight to New York, Chicago or wherever.

Once I got there, I was conducting business development seminars and sales training workshops all day and into the evening, followed by staff meetings that usually ended around midnight.

I’d fall into bed about 1:00am and be up again at 5:00 – just in time to get to the airport, fly off to the next city, the next client, and do it all over again.

I usually didn’t get home until after 10:00pm, Friday night.

One Friday night, after a particularly hellacious week, I pulled into my driveway and my dog wouldn’t let me out of the car … he didn’t recognize me. I travel a lot, so I have a dog as big as a Mack truck.

I had to call my wife on my cell phone to come and get him, just so I could get out of the car without being torn to pieces. It’s pretty bad when you’re gone so much, your own dog doesn’t know who you are.

As I sat there in my driveway, waiting for my pulse rate and blood pressure to return to normal, I had one of those light-bulb moments. Sure, I was making pretty good money – but I was so busy making a living, I’d forgotten to make a life. Something had to change.

The morning after my driveway epiphany, I decided to invest a bit of my preciously little spare time in developing a part time business to get myself free. Best move I ever made.

So how do you make time, when you don’t have any?

Step #1: Prioritize

Pretend you’ve just received a telegram from some law firm in London, England, telling you that you inherited $10 million in U.S. funds from an uncle you never knew you had. But you have to be at their office, in London, at 5:00pm this Friday to pick it up, or the money goes to another relative.

Are you going to say, “Friday? Well, shoot! That’s my bowling night!” Or are you going to be on the first thing smoking to London? You get my drift …

Successful people constantly prioritize and make time for what’s really important.

Step #2: Record What You Do Each Week

Try this. Break the day into half-hour segments and write down exactly what you do during every 30-minute interval. You’ll be amazed, but you’ll easily spot an hour or two every day where you really aren’t doing anything productive.

With me, it was watching television. When I finally got home, I’d immediately become one with the couch. I’d sit in front of the TV and decompress. I was pretty much glued to the tube most of the weekend.

So I started peeling little bits of time out of my day. Since I never made a dime watching television, I shut the thing off and worked on my business on the weekends and whenever I could.

Step #3: Piggyback Time Using Two-Fers

What’s a two-fer? Here are a few examples:

  • I never get in line without reading something. To this day, I easily get in an hour’s worth of reading per week using this strategy.
  • I always carry a small spiral notebook in my pocket wherever I go. Whenever an idea comes to me – no matter where I am or what I’m doing – I write it down. By the end of the day, I usually have a couple of good resume objectives … a skills summary or two … a good SAR story … a good headline … a lead … some sales copy … whatever … in that little notebook. There’s a notebook in my pocket as I write this.
  • In my car, I always listen to recordings that inspire and inform me. I bought a cheap little cassette recorder and dictate every week’s Spare Time Biz Success, The Golden Thread and Rebecca Matter’s Wealthy Web Writer into it. I’ve recorded and listen to every article written by Julien Sharp. I also listen to Joshua Boswell’s Monday Morning Jumpstart on my MP3 player. Whenever I’m driving, it’s like having my own personal guru in the car with me. The more I listen, the more I learn.
  • I mail out my marketing kits on the weekend and let them promote my business while I’m flitting around the country working.
  • I write in the evening and on the weekend.
  • I make marketing and follow-up calls on my cell phone on my way into work, during lunch and on my way home.

Each day is important. Yard by yard, it’s hard. But inch by inch, it’s a cinch. If you prioritize and learn how to multi-task effectively – lack of time will never be a problem.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: July 14, 2009

6 Responses to “How to Make Time When You Don’t Have Any”

  1. "Yard by yard, it’s hard. But inch by inch, it’s a cinch." Here is an aphorism that hit an immediate chord for me - even though, being Canadian, I'm supposed to think metrically(: - and it initiated a ton of thoughts and ideas about progress and steps forward.
    Tom, is this yours or is it a quote from another person? I would like to use it as my "motto" - would that be OK? Who would I be plagiarizing?

    Ann Jordan-MillsJuly 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm

  2. Great article but, I just would not get into chasing time or the busyness of chasing the dollar - I work alone - I have wet-nursed staffers(Canada & USA) - been published in business and human interest magazines and newspaper through New York and would not get involved in the article suggestions or outsourcing(more wet-nursing).
    Today, people are so busy with living they may miss life.

    Jack PineJuly 15, 2009 at 10:44 pm

  3. I would have chopped out the section starting with: "The truth of the matter is,..." and ending with "Best move I ever made".

    Doing so would not have detracted from your idea. And you could have used the chopped section as the basis for another post.

    MikeCJuly 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

  4. Great article, Tom. I'm disapointed with the negative comments. This is exactly how I started my copywriting business (going from a full-time job to working on my own). The personal aspects to your story should absolutely be there because it's what makes your story really hit home. Thank you!

    Rachel KarlAugust 12, 2009 at 4:40 pm

  5. Great points. Well all seem to forget the more important things in life :)

    Guest (Mark)March 22, 2011 at 1:59 am

  6. Time is a precious comodity. By making careful analysis one can find something to devote less time to, with discipline.

    Sara Millard DieffembachApril 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)