About 3 years ago, I stopped and looked around and realized I was trying to do way too much.
I know a lot of online people build moats around themselves so they never have to hear from their readers (“noreply” email addresses, assistants to screen messages, etc). But I always preferred to read my own emails and respond to them, even if I got insane ones like this, this, and this.
However, reading 1,000+ emails a day raises its own problems.
Back then, I was getting hundreds of emails a day from random readers, who would ask questions about investing, the best credit card, how to handle their upcoming job interview, etc.
I was raised to help people if I could, so I made it a point of pride to respond to every single email I got.
But like a sink that’s backed up, no matter how quickly I “drained” my inbox, I ended each day with more emails than I started with. I felt like Mickey in Fantasia.
By this point, I also had a small team, so every day, I would get emails, chats, and texts that went like this: “Hey Ramit, can you take a look at this?”
“Yeah, sure, what do you need?” I would say.
…UNTIL I WAS GETTING 50+ REQUESTS LIKE THAT A DAY. WTF!!
So now, I was answering emails, writing IWT emails, working on our technology, planning marketing campaigns, building multiple courses at the same time, and reading about 1,000 emails/day.
Not good. No matter how fast you type or how many cool email hacks you implement, this doesn’t scale.
In fact, when I finally decided to take a vacation, it took me one damn year to figure out how to leave and make sure IWT didn’t collapse while I was gone.
Imagine being a paper clerk who comes into work, takes a look at the 5,000 files on his desk, and glumly begins stamping papers. At the end of the day, his boss walks by with a new cart of 7,000 more files. Can you imagine that sinking feeling every day?
I was basically a glorified paper clerk pushing papers…with no end in sight.
What do you notice about stupid Ramit from a few years ago?
#1: STUPID RAMIT HAD: A lot of delusional self-importance: “The world will collapse if I’m not here to manage everything,” said Ramit who really isn’t that important (remember, this was 3 years ago. Now I’m much more mature)
#2: STUPID RAMIT HAD: A total inability to give up control and delegate. Everyone “knows” you have to focus on the Big Wins…until you actually try to do it
#3: STUPID RAMIT HAD: A serious problem focusing on pointless minutiae. ‘Oh, let me spend 3 hours on this paragraph that will have no meaningful impact on my life or anyone else’s. It’s so important…don’t you understand!!’
Worst of all, if I looked at my calendar, I spent maybe 30 minutes a day working on really important stuff. 30 MINUTES!
I had to figure out a better way of tackling work and life.
So I decided to start testing out different approaches. I may not have been good at balance, but I also knew I wasn’t a special snowflake, and if others had figured it out, I was sure I could, too. I hired advisors, I read tons of books, and I started experimenting.
- I took the ~60 hours of low-level tasks I used to do…and eliminated 45 hours of them a week
- I replaced that time with much more valuable work that I loved
- My revenue doubled…multiple times
Best of all, I got to “own” my personal time again. For example, last week I worked until 4pm, then went to the gym, and after that met friends to see the Louis C.K. show at Madison Square Garden.
Now, POP QUIZ:
Put yourself in my shoes.
What did I change that let me eliminate the low-level tasks and focus on high-value items?
And what does this have to do with MORE?
Leave a comment below with your guess.
P.S. Hint: This one change I made was worth millions of dollars. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.
P.P.S. I want to acknowledge a math mistake I made in last week’s post. I miscalculated the numbers on my luxury spending post: I pay $16,380/year for my personal trainer, not $45,360. (New rule: I need to triple check my math.) This is my mistake and mine alone, and I wanted to be be candid about it since I’ve always promised to be honest with you. I’ve corrected the original post on luxury and added an additional example to show how I do spend $50,000+ a year on luxury services.