We all like the idea of earning more with less work but this isn’t always easy to accomplish. It can be difficult even knowing where to start.
To obtain your goal of earning more with less effort will actually require you to do some upfront work. Since most of you probably feel overworked and overwhelmed as it is, I decided to put together a guide that can take you through this change in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort that will produce the biggest results—just like how you want the rest of your life!
Prioritize by Creating Lists and Ranking the Items
A lot of things want our attention each day—from text messages that pop up on our phones to the ads we see before we can watch a video on YouTube. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
This is especially true when it comes to work. A million things can want our attention. But since there’s only so many hours in a day, we have to choose. But how?
The answer lies in the good ol’ fashioned art of making lists.
Real estate mogul and Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran is known to do this. She makes daily to-do lists, ranks each item with the letter A, B or C based on how important it is for that day and how much it contributes to growing her business. She then focuses on the A’s first. If she gets through those items, she will move on to the B’s and so on. She credits making these daily lists as a big part of her success.
I tend to make weekly lists. Every Sunday night I will make a list of important to-dos for the week. Then I rank them in order of importance. I focus on the most important items at the beginning of the week and then work my way down. Sometimes, though, I will also make a to-do list for the day, putting on that list only two or three items that are important to get done for that day.
The importance of the list is that it helps keep you organized both physically and mentally. It’s easy to get confused and lose sight of our goals when there are so many distractions. It’s also easy to spend time on items that aren’t moving us forward. Lists provide clarity.
Think of it this way: If two people go to the store and one person has a list of items he or she needs and the other doesn’t, who’s going to get exactly what they want and in the least amount of time?
Group Items or Services Together
People love packaged deals. It gives them more for less. And when you package or group things together, you’re more likely to make more sales as well as increase the dollar amount of each transaction.
For example, let’s say you own a tutoring business. You could create a bundle that includes 6 sessions, a math book and flashcards for a special price for new customers. This becomes a great introductory offer that pulls people in to your school, gives them something for “free” (the math book and flashcards) and allows them to try out your business without a huge upfront financial commitment. At the same time, it becomes a win for you because you just sold six sessions instead of one.
Of course, the same holds true for products. Selling dog toys online? Create a package of toys for a discounted price that Fido’s owner can purchase. Selling a skincare product? Bundle two or three products together and put them in a nice kit. Every time you sell one of these bundles, you make more than if you would selling each item individually.
Bundling also helps to streamline the process (because you can process one larger transaction instead of multiple smaller ones). In the article “Bundle Pricing Strategy” from smallbusiness.chron.com, author Kimberlee Leonard wrote “Offering products in bundles provides benefits beyond simply getting more revenue from each customer. It simplifies production and reduces errors.”
But it also makes it easier for the potential customers because they don’t have to mess with multiple transactions either—which will make them more willing to buy. For example, isn’t it easier to have your homeowner’s and auto insurance with one company instead of having to deal with two?
When you make it easy for the customer, it makes it easier for them to part with their money.
Have a Simple System in Place
Do you have a system or process in place to pay your bills? To train your employees? To keep track of your investments? And if you do have a system in place, is it easy to understand and implement?
Brian Scudamore, founder of 1-800-Got-Junk, Wow 1 Day and You Move Me has credited his mastery of creating the best systems in his businesses to his success. He did this by collecting information for every aspect of his business, deciphering the information to see what was working best, and then standardizing a process that franchisees could replicate. Each process had to fit on a single sheet of paper. If it didn’t, he modified it until it did.
Whether it’s personal or professional, creating easy systems is an essential aspect to creating more money with less effort. For example, if you have a simple process in place to invest, you’re more likely to do it. If you have an easy-to-follow system in place for your employees, contractors and customers, you’re more likely to expand your business.
Work for someone else? Challenge yourself to come up with systems at work that can streamline the work that you do and present your ideas to your boss.
Focus On Quality Instead of Quantity
Quantity can work in certain situations—for example, Wal-Mart selling tons of low-cost items that add up to huge profits—but for most businesses, and certainly on an individual level, focusing on quality instead of quantity is a much more profitable and easier path. That’s because the profit margins for higher-quality items are usually greater, which means you can sell fewer item or services yet make more money.
I did this when I owned my education business. I focused on getting quality contractors, having a top-notch program and website and offering in-home service. This allowed me to charge some of the highest rates in the industry. Occasionally, I would raise rates. Inevitably, a few would drop because of the price increase. But my business would actually pull in more money and I would have less to manage.
Part of providing top quality is knowing your stuff—as in, you should become an expert known within your field—so that you can justify your higher prices. Whether it’s a product or a service, there will always be a group of people willing to pay top dollar for high quality. I discuss how to become an expert in my article 5 Steps to a More Exciting and Lucrative Career.
Focus on the “Golden Three” and Outsource the Rest
There is an easy system I came up with that will help you figure what you should keep doing yourself and what you should outsource. It’s called the Golden Three. It consists of: What you like to do, what you’re good at and what will increase your value in your chosen field
No one can be good at everything. That’s impossible. A key element to earning more with less work is to be honest with yourself about what you’re good at, as well as what you enjoy doing.
To figure this out, make three lists. The first one is a list of the tasks involved for your current job or business that you find you’re good at. (If you’re not sure, ask a colleague, boss or even get feedback from customers.)
On the second list, write down the things you like to do in your current job situation. Cross-reference these two lists. These are the two things you should focus on in your day-to-day operations.
In some cases, you could find a way to improve in things you enjoy doing but aren’t very good at. Need to take a class? Need to read a few more books or watch some videos? Need to find a mentor who can guide you? If you enjoy doing something but need to improve, take action. But, sometimes, we’re not going to be good at something no matter how hard we try.
On the third list, write down what you can do to increase your value in the field of your choice. For example, do you need a refresher course or another certification? Is there a new technology you should learn? Do you need to get some articles published in an industry journal? These are personal goals you will need to do yourself and that no one else can do for you.
Continue to focus on the “Golden Three” and try to outsource the rest. If you hate doing something, or aren’t ever going to be good at it, then let someone else do it so that you can focus on what you do best, as well as increasing your own personal value.
Lose the Distractions and Become Hyper-Focused
If you’re self-employed, it’s easy to let yourself be interrupted. The same can still be true if you’re an employee. We are constantly glancing at our phones, checking emails and text messages or the latest Facebook post. While it can be a nice mental break, all of those little interruptions can kill productivity.
This, in turn, can make it feel like we’re working more hours than we actually are. If you want to work less overall, you have to set time chunks each workday to be hyper-focused. Being hyper-focused means not glancing at your phone, not stopping to read the newest email and may even mean not allowing colleagues or employees to interrupt you.
These time periods don’t have to be long stretches of time. You could even set a timer for certain tasks—20 minutes to send out two important emails to clients; one hour to work on your web site. Give yourself mini “time goals” and stick to them. You’ll get more done in less time.
A by-product of being hyper-focused is that you will most likely find that you become better at what you do as well because you’ll be giving each and every thing you do in your work your full attention. And I mentioned above, becoming better at what you do will allow you to charge more because you’ll be producing work of the highest quality.
turn off social media notifications; don’t take personal calls—don’t give in to someone else’s current time line or agenda. Just because they messaged or called you at that moment doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately. Focus on your task at hand. This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything personal—we all need mental breaks throughout the day—but if you find you’re constantly checking Facebook or taking personal calls that interrupt what you’re doing…put phone on airplane mode for blocks of time.
Let Passive Income and Compound Interest Work For You
In my article Compound Interest and Passive Income: A Simple Explanation That Will Transform Your Financial Future, I discuss how important passive income and compound interest are in increasing wealth. If you don’t understand and utilize these two wealth-building tools, then you are going to work harder and longer for less money.
Passive income is money you earn with little to no effort from you once you have it set up. It does, however, require some upfront work. Sometimes that work isn’t very much (like opening a new savings account that will earn you a higher rate) and other times, it requires a lot (like starting and growing your own YouTube channel). But it’s almost always worth it in the long run and is a huge help in earning you more money for less work.
Compound interest is earning interest on top of interest and is one of the major ways the wealthy get wealthier. When you earn interest on an initial investment, and leave the interest in the account to earn you more interest, you’re setting yourself up for more money with little to no effort for you.
One of my favorite ways to earn interest upon interest is to invest in dividend stocks, as I discuss in my article Why Everyone Should Own Dividend Stocks (A Simple Guide).
Downsize Your Life
This may not be an obvious one but it’s important. I talk a lot on this site about decreasing your expenses by owning a smaller home, owning fewer cars and “stuff” in general, and not constantly upgrading your phones, computers, car, home etc.
By having fewer wants and spending less, you can take the money you save and invest it. Remember the section you just read on compound interest? That’s why you want to save more!
By investing your money instead of spending it on more junk you don’t really need, you can earn more with little to no effort. And once you start earning passive income, it can grow like a snowball rolling downhill. The interest upon interest that you earn will grow exponentially, freeing you up to work less.
You also won’t have to work so hard because you won’t have to pay for a bigger home, all the stuff that fills up the bigger home, the extra vehicles or the lavish vacations.
It Takes Work to Work Less!
I wish I could say that you could kick back, put your feet up and suddenly, you would be working less yet earning more money. But, sadly, you will actually have to put in some upfront work first to make all of this happen.
Even if you just implement a few of the steps outlined above, it will make a difference in the long run. Choose what works best for you and what you feel like you can handle.
What can you do today or this week to set up a more financially and personally rewarding life? Maybe this week you start making a to-do list and prioritizing the items; maybe you create a new system for paying your bills; or maybe you outsource one task that you hate doing.
Like anything in life, big results come from a series of small steps that happened beforehand. Don’t be afraid to take that first step:)
Has this article inspired you to take action and do things that will give you bigger financial rewards with less effort? If so, I would love to hear from you! You can also let me know if there is another topic you would love for me to write about. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, comments and observations!