In this episode we talk about time management and how to make the most of your work day.

We do believe that it’s possible to work too much and that you only have so much brainpower or what we like to call “Ram.”

It’s important to be aware of how much time you are working and also be aware of how much you are working “on” the business versus “in” the business. These are things that Scott and Garrett have learned along the way.

It’s not always the quantity of hours that are worked but rather the quality of the hours. Make the most out of the “Ram” that you have each day.

We focus on managing priorities throughout our work day because we understand that multitasking doesn’t work effectively. You can watch one of Garrett’s live videos, The Myth Of Multitasking, by clicking here.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast and automatically receive updates on each episode release. Thanks for listening!

Click here to read the podcast transcript

Garrett Pierson: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Software Secrets Podcast. This is episode 16. I’m Garrett Pierson.

Lindsay Halling: I’m Lindsay Halling.

Scott Brandley: And Scott Brandley.

Garrett Pierson: We’re excited to have you back. If you haven’t subscribed yet, make you sure you go and subscribe. You can easily do that by going to SoftwareSecretsPodcast.com, and also leave us a review. If you’ve been listening to these for a while we’d really appreciate that. It helps us get the word out.

One more thing we’d like you to do. Tell us what you would like to hear about. Tell us your questions, tell us your concerns, where you’re at in building your software and you can do that by emailing [email protected] and we’ll get those emails and we’ll answer your questions. We’ll talk about where you’re at and all that, so we’d love to hear from you. Let’s do a status update on where we are at with Software Funnels, our software program that we’re building and trying to launch in May. Go ahead, Lindsay.

Scott Brandley: Lindsay!

Lindsay Halling: Well, we have a cool new face to our projects tool, which I don’t even think Garrett and Scott have had a chance to see yet.

Scott Brandley: Nope.

Lindsay Halling: I’m pretty excited about it. They pushed it live today. Still some tweaks obviously, but it’s on our staging server and looks pretty sweet, so that’s a big update.

Scott Brandley: That’s pretty exciting. Is there functionality that’s working?

Garrett Pierson: It’s just design at this point. What if there was a lot of functionality?

Lindsay Halling: Yeah, the regular OpenSource functionality is all in there still.

Garrett Pierson: We decided to start with the design first. We learned that that was the best way to go, hooking into the API and the design.

Lindsay Halling: Yeah, so that’s cool. Then we’re probably, oh, I don’t know, I think I said 70% done on analytics last time, but now I’d probably say that again with more confidence this time.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

Lindsay Halling: It’s a hard one because it doesn’t change visually very much, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

Garrett Pierson: There’s a lot of code being written for all the calculations.

Lindsay Halling: Yeah, so those are the two biggest. Team Shot still hasn’t come to life with its new look yet, but he’s just really learning the code, understanding everything that works.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah, he has to reinstall the OpenSource software and he’s learning code, so that one’s going a little bit slower. Where’s Help Desk?

Lindsay Halling: Help Desk is still in that design changes. I login everyday trying to see if there’s something that’s changed, but it’s still really focused on the design portion first.

Garrett Pierson: Perfect. For everybody, for those of you that are new, Software Funnels is the program we’re building for our Software Secrets launch, but it’s also, we’re building it for the software industry and for ourselves. It’s just an all-in-one inclusive area of managing a software project.

Scott Brandley: Something I thought was cool this week is we’re putting together a presentation where we’re going to go pitch the idea of Software Funnels to a mastermind group.

Garrett Pierson: To some groups, yup.

Scott Brandley: Software Secrets, and one thing that I thought was really fun this week was in one of those slides Lindsey put together all of our competitors from all the different tools that are separate.

Garrett Pierson: White boarding tool, wire framing tool, all the tools.

Scott Brandley: Yeah, and showed all the competitors how all of those things combine into one tool.

Garrett Pierson: Which is Software Funnels.

Scott Brandley: One tool to rule them all.

Garrett Pierson: Perfect. We’re really excited. Things are getting done slowly but surely, and that’s how it goes with building software when you’re in the early stages. It’s kind of like building a house. My brother-in-law and my sister, they’re building a house right now and they said that they got the foundation put in. That went reasonably fast and then they got the framing up and that went super fast. Now things are slow again. That’s exactly how it goes with building software. You’ll see these quick changes, you’re like, “Oh sweet.” It’s like, “This is so fun and awesome.” Then it will be like molasses. Then you’re just waiting.

That’s the name of the game and just being patient and progressing, just progressing forward slowly but surely. That’s the recap or status update on Software Funnels. If you want to be on the [inaudible 00:04:08] and the BPI for when we do launch, the early bird I guess we call them.

Scott Brandley: The VIPs.

Garrett Pierson: The VIPs. Did I say BPI? The early bird. The early bird list, go to SoftwareFunnels.com so you can get on that so you’ll get a discount when we do launch hopefully in May. Today we’re going to talk about what, Scott?

Scott Brandley: Time management.

Garrett Pierson: Time management, getting overwhelmed, working too much, getting stressed, how to avoid those things.

Scott Brandley: Right. That’s going to happen a lot when you’re first starting out and even after your launch.

Garrett Pierson: It’s just part of life and business, right?

Scott Brandley: Yup.

Garrett Pierson: I don’t think it ever ends.

Scott Brandley: There’s things that we’ve learned that have helped us to cope and to do better at managing our time.

Garrett Pierson: Right. If you are just starting out and you’re building your software, some of you will be working another full-time job, and that’s going to take a real toll on your body, your physical, your emotional, your family, your mental state, everything. Even if you’re not, don’t have a full-time job and trying to pull this off, you can still work too much.

What we want to get through today is to work smarter, not necessarily harder. There’s lots of studies out there, and I’m not going to claim that I know them all or understand it all so I’ll make up my own statistic I guess, but what I’ve heard is anything over literally six hours of working, hard work, the will power, what we call, we like to call it RAM, your will power, your brain and your body only has so much RAM that you can expel before you start becoming unproductive.

Anything over six hours, now generally it’s an eight hour day and that’s fine as long as you take a couple breaks during those eight hours, but anything over six hours in my opinion, you’re going to start becoming more and more unproductive. Anything over eight hours and 10 hours, it’s just going to get worse and worse. What you need to do is first of all be aware of the amount of hours you’re working, be aware of how much you’re just sitting in front of a computer because first of all that’s almost pointless if you’re not doing anything productive. That would be tip number one, be aware of what you’re doing throughout the day and how much time. Tip number two …

Scott Brandley: Along with that tip is knowing, like you said, knowing the second you sit in front of your computer you’re in the business instead of on it. A lot of your key decisions are going to be made when you’re working on the business, not sitting in front of your computer. Make sure you take some serious time out away from your computer to make sure you know what’s going on.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah, so essentially that would have been tip number two, which is just … That’s fine. Scott said it, just take time away from your desk. Take time away. Go take a walk. Go do whatever you can to not be in the business because the minute you’re in, which is fine, you need to be in. When we say in it means you’re sitting there answering emails, doing this, doing that in the business. That’s where you need to be most of your day, but you need to take some time to step away.

What we’ve done to really, we’ve taken that to the next level. Scott and I generally don’t work on Mondays. What we mean by that is we don’t work in the business. We don’t go to our desks. This isn’t … Every once in a while if we’ve got to get something done we do, but generally on a Monday we go into a conference room, we shut the doors and Scott and I, we’ll bring in the key people that we need to bring in to talk to throughout the day, but Scott and I are in there working on the business. We’re making decisions. We’re talking about goals. We’re talking about things that need to happen.

Scott Brandley: Looking for weaknesses and systems that are running efficiently.

Garrett Pierson: Exactly.

Scott Brandley: Things that are broken.

Garrett Pierson: We talk about our six P’s, which are product …

Scott Brandley: Process.

Garrett Pierson: … process, promotion, people, profit and philanthropy. Maybe we’ve talked about that before and we’ll go back through those, but if you guys would like to hear about those make sure you email us at [email protected] We’ll do another episode just where we’re talking about in detail what those things are.

You need to step back and work on the business, not in the business. We actually have a whole day, which are Mondays, that we’re not working in the business. That’s been a huge help for us. We did a hybrid of that throughout these last eight years where when we’ve been working together Scott and I walk everyday after we workout and that was kind of that on the business because we’re not in front of a computer or anything. We’re just talking about more details and more decision making and all that. Make sure you take time. That’s tip number two.

Scott Brandley: We still do that too. We still go on our walks everyday. They help us a lot, but this Monday meeting is a little bit different. We go more in-depth into those six areas and we look for areas that we really need to dig down deep into and resolve or focus on.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah. Tip number three would be I think to stop working too much. If you are working more than eight hours a day, you need to re-evaluate your processes. You need to re-evaluate what you’re doing because you’re going to become unproductive. That’s the same thing to go for your programmers. If they’re working too much they’re going to become unproductive over time. Again, that’s not to say that you can’t have a 14 hour day one day of the week. That’s fine, right?

Even that’s pushing it. If you’re doing that consecutively and your programmers are doing that way too much, then they’re going to have productivity issues because of that RAM that we talked about. Scott, why don’t you go into what your vision on that RAM point is.

Scott Brandley: Well, when you start out, there’s been articles we’ve read where when you start out in the morning you have a lot more energy, a lot more ability to make key decisions and do hard things, but as the day goes through that diminishes over time until at the end you pretty much have no ability to make …

Garrett Pierson: Good decisions.

Scott Brandley: Yeah, good decisions anymore. When you’re building a business you don’t want to go past that point because then you’re going to start making some bad decisions and it’s going to be very unproductive. Now as you’re starting your business, if you do still have a full-time job and you’re doing this in the evenings you’ve got to be really careful. It’s probably good to have a break, spend some time with your family, rest a little bit, have dinner and maybe do something that has nothing to do with work or your new business.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah, so you can reset that RAM.

Scott Brandley: To reset it. Yup.

Garrett Pierson: Yup. That’s a great point. I really like that. We’ve been there. Early days, it’s not that we were working in another business. We were just putting a lot of time and effort because we were pretty much wearing all the hats early on. We didn’t have the team members that helped us get things done and so we were working too much. We learned that that makes us unproductive. Lindsey, what are your thoughts on some of these tips that we’ve been giving?

Lindsay Halling: I actually was talking with my mom the other day and we were actually talking about you two, Garrett and Scott, and I made a comment to my mom. She was just asking how my work day went and I made a comment to her how Garrett and Scott can get more done in four to six hours than some entrepreneurs that I know that work 12 to 14 hour days.

We just kind of got talking about that and I really think that is truly that work smarter not harder. I don’t know. It’s been an adjustment for me because I always thought there was something to be said for quantity of hours, so I’ve really tried to just change the way that I view that a little bit over my time.

Garrett Pierson: Perfect. Love that. Quality of quantity.

Scott Brandley: Yeah, that’s a really good point actually. I think most people in America have that same mindset. We did forever.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah, we thought the more you worked the more you got accomplished and that’s not the case.

Scott Brandley: We’ve changed that mindset over the years and now it’s the less I work, the more money I make.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah, in some cases. We still need to put the hard work in, but if you do it smarter …

Scott Brandley: Yeah, smarter.

Garrett Pierson: We don’t need to work more.

Scott Brandley: It’s putting processes in place. It’s getting the right people on your team. It’s making the most of that RAM that’s available to you every day.

Garrett Pierson: Oh, I like that, making the most out of the RAM that you have. Some people have a little bit more RAM than others. Some people do. I’m somebody that I can have a lot of ram but I don’t have a ton. So I’ve got to work smarter because I’ll just be done, you know? So I can work super hard in four hours and like Lindsay’s saying, I can get done in four hours what the normal person can get done in eight because I just work smarter and I prioritize. That’s the next thing I want to talk about is that prioritizing. I did a video on my Facebook, live videos that I do everyday that you can see those at Facebook.com/SoftwareSecretsBook. You can also see it at the blog. Blog.SoftwareSecrets.com and click on the Garrett’s Videos tab up at the top.

Anyway, I did a video about the myth of multitasking and there’s a book by Dave Crenshaw that’s just awesome. It’s really small. You can literally read it in about an hour to three hours. The myth of multitasking is basically, the way I present it to people is, you can only be doing one thing at a time. Now granted, you could be jump roping and talking to somebody at the same time but when it comes to hard work, hard good work, you can only be doing one thing at a time.

Scott Brandley: Especially mental work.

Garrett Pierson: Yeah. Because the minute that you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. So what you’ve gotta do to lower your stress and be more productive and get more done in those four hours than people do in eight hours is focusing. Focusing on the number one priority and only doing that until it’s done or can’t be completed. Then, you move to priority number two. Then, once that’s done or can’t be completed, you move to priority number three. Most of the time, people are trying to work on ten priorities at a time. Good luck. That’s going to cause stress, it’s going to cause unproductivity. You just can’t be productive. The myth of multitasking, you can only do one thing really good at a time.

The way we do this and the way we manage our project management … We’ve done projects about our project management but we’ve just really fine tuned this over the last couple months is to … Even our programmers and all our team, we manage everything by priority. You do not do anything until your number one priority is done and then you don’t do anything else after that until your priority two is done and so on and so forth. Generally, we don’t give people more than two to three priorities.

If you can implement this into your life and into your business and into your software development, it’s going to change everything. It just will. Scott, what have been some of your findings since we’ve been really pushing this over the last little while here in the companies?

Scott Brandley: I’ve seen a huge change in people. I mean, prior to making a lot of these changes that you’ve mentioned, there was a lot of unorganized-

Garrett Pierson: Chaos?

Scott Brandley: Chaos, yeah.

Garrett Pierson: Unorganized chaos.

Scott Brandley: We were getting stuff done but it wasn’t … It’s way more organized when you manage the priorities and you have just those few priorities that people work on everyday. A really good example of that is Chris who we had had to have an intervention with the other day. Chris, he’s our-

Garrett Pierson: Technical support manager-

Scott Brandley: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:03:15] tech support manager. He was working during the day, a full eight hour day at work-

Garrett Pierson: If not more.

Scott Brandley: And then he would go home and he would get online with one of the programmers that works with integrations for our clients, and he would work with him for another-

Garrett Pierson: [crosstalk 00:03:34] Who knows how long?

Scott Brandley: Six to eight hours, putting these crazy days in, and he just got burnt out, and one day, he decided to just not come to work.

Garrett Pierson: Well, he just took a day off ’cause he was overwhelmed and … We weren’t really aware of it and we weren’t aware that the processes and management just weren’t there for him. So we had a big talk with him, helped him, and he totally turned around and felt fine. We actually set mandatory, “You can’t work more than X amount of hours this week. Then next week, you can’t work more than eight hours.” Because if you can’t do your job in the eight hours that we’re making mandatory for you to work, then there’s processes broken, management issues, and or we need somebody else to help you. But we need to figure all that out first and get things organized.

Scott Brandley: And I think that really helped him. One, it helped him to realize that we’re there for him. Two, it also helped him to start rethinking the systems and the processes that he uses when he’s working. How can he be more efficient? What can he do to solve problems in a better way? How can he work with the overseas programmers more efficiently? That’s really … That’s helping him to make his life a lot better.

Garrett Pierson: So one thing that we did, and this is a good point back to working on an in. He was way too in and didn’t let us know. So he didn’t step back and work on and so when we had the meeting with him, we were on the business, it wasn’t in it. We were talking and making decisions. So through that, we helped him with his management skills, we helped him with his time management and all that. But we also determined that the problem was is the programmer that was working with him, wasn’t able to work the hours in the daytime that we needed him to. That was the biggest problem. So we made an adjustment there, or we’re making that adjustment, where we’re getting the programmer, or a programmer, to work with him that works during the day hours. Okay? We’re going to demand that essentially, even from these overseas programmers. That’s going to help a lot as well.

Just a quick recap of what we talked about today, those tips, is basically, you only have so much ram. You need to take time out of your day or week to work on the business, not in the business. From the project management, setting priorities, and only focusing on the priorities. Any last words, Lindsay or Scott?

Scott Brandley: These things might sound simple but they change everything. I wish we would’ve learned them earlier and adopted them earlier in our careers so that we could take better advantage of them. We hope that you take what we’re saying to heart and actually try to implement what we’re telling you because it will change everything.

Garrett Pierson: Yup. Thanks for listening everybody. Have a great week.

Scott Brandley: See ya.

Lindsay Halling: See ya.