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Constant overwhelm. Non-stop craziness. Never a dull moment.

Do these describe your situation? You’re not alone. Time has always been our most valuable resource, but it’s never seemed so short in supply as it does now.

Where do you find the time? I mean for anything! How is it that you wake up tired, you go and go and go and go and somehow get to the end of your day tired, and still feel like you’ve hardly accomplished anything? Then you get up the next day and do it all over again.

It’s madness. But the news gets worse: you’ll never find the time. Why? Because we’re too good at filling it. We fill time automatically by habit.

Don’t believe me? When was the last time you had a gap in your schedule when someone asked you to do something during that time and you said no? If you’re like most people, probably never. Free time is meant to be filled, right? That’s how we operate anyway.

You’ll never find time because our time-filling habit is automatic. You’ll only ever have the time if you make it. The only way to create time is with a two-letter word: no.

I need you to hear this episode. I mean really hear it. You need you to hear this episode. Take the time, make the time, set aside the time to listen to this episode. You owe it to yourself. I promise you’ll come away with the clarity to save more time than you spent listening to it.

Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
  • Motivate yourself to make something happen by giving yourself no other choice.
  • Take inventory of the things you’re spending your time on: what can you not do to make something more important possible?
  • Social media and Netflix aren’t inherently evil things. But if you’re indulging in them, you’re not really being honest with yourself when you say you “don’t have time.”
  • Have a plan of action for taking a break to enjoy social media: set a predetermined amount of time before going in.
  • Saying “no” is the only way to create time.
  • You’ll always be able to find excuses for why you don’t have time. If you’re not willing to take responsibility, how are you going to effect change in your own life?
  • There’s always going to be someone asking you for something—you can’t say “yes” to everything.
  • You might feel like a jerk saying “no” or turning things down, but you have to create margin for yourself to remain a healthy person.
  • Everything on your plate is a result of you allowing it. At some point in the past, you said “yes” to something. Identify it.
  • Most people see margin as a luxury, but it’s really a necessity. Purposefully schedule margin and and don’t fill it. Almost no one does this.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others—what are you doing with the time you have?
Show Notes
  • 13:21 Sean: In 55 days I’ll be launching Learn Lettering 2.0 because there’s interest there and it’s easier to make money where you’re already making money. The reason I need to make money is because I’ve just hired two people—a shownote writer and full-time podcast editor—which is seven total seanwes employees. I’ve decided to write a lettering blog post every day for 30 days leading up to the launch date. My plan is to wake up at 6am every day to write these posts.
  • 15:05 Lately, I’ve been working later and later in the evening and my day just isn’t as productive as when I wake up early. I’m not a morning person but I can’t argue with the results. Cory is holding me accountable to the schedule we came up with to get this done within our timeframe. I’m setting aside two hours every single morning to write for Learn Lettering—rewriting the course and the 30 day blog series leading up to the launch.
  • 15:43 My alarm went off at 6am this morning to write and the first thing Cory said this morning when he came in was, “Did you do it?” When my alarm went off this morning, I didn’t even hesitate because people depend on me. I have people to take care of, just like a family, so I got out of bed and wrote 1,000 words.

Get Your Back Against the Wall

  • 16:19 Earlier in the chat room, people were talking about how slow the Overlap Technique is and how they would rather quit their day job and do their passion than slowly transition to it. It’s not impossible to do, but: There’s no motivation like it, it’s do or die. You have to make it.

Motivate yourself to make something happen by giving yourself no other choice.

  • 16:57 There’s no sleeping in, hitting the snooze button, opening a Facebook tab, playing games, or goofing off. You’re doing this. This is what I’ve implemented for myself. You can call me foolish but I’m not really being foolish. The money in the bank right now is ok, but it’s not going to sustain us with seven employees. I know my projections and what I can make, and it’s a matter of whether or not I’m going to execute on it. I’m taking on the livelihoods of other people and that’s my motivation. 6am means feet on the floor now. No more sleeping in or snoozing, which I tend to do. I’m waking up early and I’m doing this.
  • 19:37 Ben: That’s a pressure you’ve got to hold in a fine balance. On one hand, these people are choosing to do this with you and on the other hand it’s a weight you’ve willingly taken on for yourself so you can use it as motivation. It’s not a destructive weight, though. Some people can’t use that kind of weight because it’s just too heavy for them. That motivation has to be different for everyone depending on what really works for them. The back against the wall thing doesn’t have to be taking care of other people, it could be a deadline you set for yourself.
  • 21:18 Sean: As long as the deadline isn’t arbitrary. When I say to get your back against a wall, I’m not prescribing my situation. I’m giving an example of how I’ve put my back against the wall. Another way of doing that is saying the Learn Lettering launch is in 55 days. I’ve got to do it and people are expecting it. I’m having Cory hold me accountable to writing early in the morning. I don’t want my employees to worry just because I’m being so transparent.
  • 21:54 Every employer goes through this and it’s their job to make sure they get paid, but employees don’t have to worry about this part. My employees don’t need to worry about it though because I wouldn’t hire you and put you in a bad position. Know I’ve made a smart decision here. On my end, I’m thinking about cashflow and revenue, but that’s the form the back against the wall trick takes for me. It could take another form for you.
  • 22:38 Ben: It does have to be something where there are real consequences for not following through, though.
  • 22:49 Sean: Time, money, resources, reputation, and trust are just some examples.
  • 22:58 Ben: Don’t let that be something so heavy that you crumble under it. What would you say to someone who feels the weight of those consequences if they fail to follow through?
  • 23:27 Sean: If someone is asking that, they probably haven’t made the commitment yet. The person making the commitment isn’t asking about struggling with the weight, the weight is making them do the work. The person struggling with the weight probably hasn’t decided to put their back against the wall. In the most recent Lambo Goal episode, we talk about being uncomfortable and how comfort is doing the things that you enjoy but shouldn’t be doing, or doing things safely (Related: Lambo Goal e012 Outside of Your Comfort Zone is Where You Make Money).
  • 24:32 Doing things safely and comfortably isn’t always the best for your business. The default state of your business isn’t slow growth, it’s stagnation and entropy. If you want to grow it, you’ve got to push the boundaries and get outside your comfort zone. Of course, I’m not talking about being foolish, we go into depth on the difference in that episode.
  • 24:58 Ben: Even when you’re working outside your comfort zone, the default state isn’t going to be an exploding business either. It’s a slow pacing.
  • 25:18 Sean: It’s not easy all the time for Laci. It’s really not easy for anyone that isn’t you—you’re the boss, the CEO, and you’re in the mindset of growth. To anyone who doesn’t intimately know all the factors inside your business, it might look foolish. The cashflow in the bank with two or three months worth of expenses covered might not look safe to some people, but they don’t know all you know. You have to go off your intuition. Once you’re delegating the things you shouldn’t be doing, then you can apply your energy to a CEO mindset of growing and innovating.
  • 26:20 Laci told me yesterday that she felt like we’re throwing all of our money away. I don’t see the revenue of seanwes as my money right now. Maybe someday I can sit back and enjoy some of what we’ve built here. I’ve established a simple life, allocated funds towards that, and that’s all I need to worry about (Related: Lambo Goal e009 Avoiding Lifestyle Creep and Investing Back Into Your Business). Everything the business makes goes back into the business and it might seem scary to give it to all your employees, especially the months where our revenue doesn’t meet payroll.
  • 27:19 Ben: It’s great to hear that you’re going to experience income that exceeds what you’re used to making, but if you’re letting your lifestyle fit just inside what you’re making, you’re not going to allow the business to thrive the way it should.

What Are You Not Doing?

  • 28:26 Sean: We’re obsessed about things we want to be able to do that we can’t for one reason or another, but the way to make time for those things is to look at what you’re not doing, or things you are doing and shouldn’t be doing.

Take inventory of the things you’re spending your time on.

  • 28:51 Are you engaging in and obliging time-wasters on a frequent basis? I’ve got some real examples of these you might not even be aware of. Facebook, where you compare yourself to people you don’t care about. Reddit, where you’re sitting back passively and letting the world entertain you. Netflix, where we all binge-watch hour long tv shows. Twitter—“What’s new? What can I distract myself with? What work that someone else made can I consume?” Sometimes, sleep can be a time-waster. You think that if you hit snooze one more time, maybe you can hold back the world of responsibility for just a moment longer.
  • 29:55 Ben: I would call that unhealthy sleep. It’s not just sleeping too much, you’re probably not getting the right kind of sleep or you’re not sleeping efficiently.
  • 30:12 Sean: Some people really do sleep too much. We all partake in these time-wasters. None of these are inherently evil, but if you’re saying you don’t have time and you’re religiously indulging in these things, then you’re not being honest with yourself. Most people don’t struggle with sleeping too much, since as a society we’ve switched to staying up late and being on our phones at 2am. The number one goal of social media platforms is to keep you there and consume as much of your time as possible. That’s their business and you have to realize that going in. I f you want to indulge, set aside a healthy, scheduled break of a predetermined duration for social media. Don’t go in with no plan, otherwise you’re playing to lose.
  • 31:50 Ben: Have you ever gotten lost in the black hole of YouTube, where you clicked on a video and three hours later you realize you should get back to work? If you think about it, they’re using science to keep you from leaving their site. There are some companies that use eye tracking technology so they can study how users move around the page. They construct their sites so you’ll be more likely to click and scroll through their content. They’ve put that site together specifically so they’ll capture you when you’re not being purposeful or intentional about it.

Saying “No” is the Only Way to Create Time

  • 33:07 We default to “yes.” We say, “Yes, I have time on my schedule so of course I’ll do it.” The first thing you need to do is take ownership of your situation. Don’t shirk responsibility, take responsibility. If you want to continue to feel helpless and overwhelmed, then blame all the things you claim you don’t have control over and make excuses for why you don’t have time. If you actually want to be free, gain control of your life, and get your time back, you have to take responsibility. If you want to make a meaningful change, you can only control the things you’re responsible for.

If you’re not willing to take responsibility, how are you going to effect change in your own life?

  • 34:10 Ben: It’s when you you constantly find yourself saying or thinking, “I was going to get to that, but something else came up,” or, “This thing stole some time from me.” I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate time suckers—things that come into our life and take our time but we didn’t really have control over. If you’re doing that consistently and you realize you make those kind of excuses three or four times a week, you might need to take a look at that and see how much of that was legitimate, and how much of that stuff you allowed to be outside of your control when you could have taken control of it.
  • 34:55 Sean: That awareness is huge. Someone or something took your time and you can blame them, but who’s responsible for giving them control over your time? Who gave them a response? Who accepted the invitation? Who went to the event? Who invited them in? It’s hard to say no, because you feel like a mean person but you have to protect yourself. That’s not to say you can’t say yes to things. This is for the person who feels like they don’t have any time. This is how you have to make time—you can’t say yes to everything. You have to say no to some stuff and you’ll feel like a jerk, but you have to preserve yourself first. It’s like on airplanes when they tell you to put your own mask on before helping someone else with theirs.
  • 36:26 Who’s going to be around when you’re burnt out, miserable, overwhelmed? You feel like you have no control and you feel like even more of a jerk because you can’t say yes to even more. There’s always going to be someone asking you for something and eventually, you’ll reach your capacity and disappoint even more people.
  • 36:52 Ben: I used to think there should be enough time in my day to accomplish all the things I said yes to. Paired with that was the ideology that things that came into my life were things I should say yes to. It seemed like opportunities were coming into my life so I should accept those things, but those two ideas paired together are very detrimental. Say “no,” but also realize that if you’re in a situation where you’re consistently not able accomplish the things you’ve said yes to, you’ve probably said yes to too many things. We have ideas for all these things we want to do—like the courses you want to put out, Sean—but we need accept they’re not all going to happen. The more you occupy yourself thinking about how you’re going to try to accomplish all of those things, the less attention and focus you’ll be able to give to the things you should be focusing on right now.

Everything on your plate is a result of you allowing it.

  • 38:29 Sean: At some point, you said yes to something and in some cases, the result of that yes is something you can’t go back on. If one of your reasons for having less time is having a kid, I’m not saying that’s a problem you need to fix, but you said yes at some point there. At least take ownership of those yeses and don’t blame the outside world. It does no good to make excuses about the things you can’t change. Own your decisions, start saying no to things, and create time. It starts with the awareness that what’s on your plate right now is the result of a yes you said in the past. I used the kid example because I didn’t want people to think I’m saying that all the things you said yes to are things you should be able to undo.
  • 40:21 Ben: I didn’t take that as demeaning at all. I’m not saying I was irresponsible, but I only had an idea of the time commitment of children. When we had children, I knew things would be different but thought certain parts of my life would stay the same. I ended up having to face the reality that things were more different than I thought they would. If I can’t accept that, I’m only going to feel frustrated and hampered. Whether it’s a kid or a job you’ve accepted, there’s some degree of responsibility you have to accept. It’s not a bad thing, you’re just aligning your mindset with the reality of the situation so you can think more realistically about it.

Give Meaning to Your “No”

  • 42:50 Sean: To give meaning to saying “no,” you have to find the purpose for your “no.” To bring some clarity to that, ask yourself:
    • Am I spending enough time with my spouse?
    • Am I spending enough time with my kids?
    • Am I spending enough time with my family?
    • Am I spending enough time to be healthy as a person physically, mentally, spiritually?
  • 43:35 If the answer is no to any of these, you shouldn’t be saying yes to other things.
  • 43:44 Ben: That can be difficult if you don’t realize the benefit that is to the other things you would or wouldn’t be saying yes to. For example, I’ve been to a couple of job interviews recently where the subject of my time came up. Where it’s a salaried position, I let them know I’ve got time with my family and maintaining my personal health. I also talk about leaving a legacy—part of the purpose I exist is to leave a legacy of some kind—and the job doesn’t create that.
  • 44:42 I tell them that as much as I would love working there, I can’t do it if it’s unsustainable. I could say yes to the job, but they’d find out in six months I wasn’t spending enough time with my family or not taking care of myself as much as I should, which would effect my ability to work well and I might end up taking a lot of sick days. It’s not just for your own benefit or the benefit of the nonnegotiables, but it’s also for the benefit of the other party. You can’t afford in the long-term to say yes to the other party if it’s going to keep you from being able to say yes to these other things.
  • 45:42 Sean: The freedom to say yes means having the capacity to say yes, which means you need margin. Margin is usually something that happens by accident for most people and they see it as an opportunity to say yes to more.

Most people see margin as a luxury, but it’s really a necessity.

  • 46:09 It’s a necessity for sanity and for quality, in every sense of the word—quality of life, work, relationships, etc. It’s necessary for the quality of your yes. If you’re saying yes to 100 things a day, what’s the quality of your yes? If you’re saying yes to two things a day, what is the quality of your yes? Margin is not a luxury and it’s a game-changer once you really grasp that. I started Small Scale Sabbaticals to combat my own weakness of potential for overworking. Margin is something I have to set aside intentionally and protect, just like I would protect anything important with me, like a date with my wife or time with my family.
  • 47:23 Ben: Margin also adds to your ability to focus when you’re working. It makes you more efficient, which also saves you time.
  • 47:41 Sean: Most of us would probably say we feel overwhelmed. We commit to a lot, we take on a lot, and we’re used to this stimulation. We live busy lives because we say we’re busy and we say we’re busy because we live busy lives. We feel a collective, constant, overwhelm and that’s why saying no to things—creating margin—is a way to alleviate that overwhelm. If you want to stay a slave to being overwhelmed, then keep blaming external things, instead of taking responsibility. The benefit is getting rid of the overwhelm, but what’s nice is getting to the point of not being constantly overwhelmed and experiencing the deeper benefits of margin and selective yeses, which is the quality of your work and relationships.
  • 50:15 Ben: Think about the feeling you have when you’ve got somewhere to go and the empty light is on, you’re running late, and your phone only has three percent battery left. When you’re on empty with your time, you’re aware of that feeling subconsciously and it grates on you, even if you aren’t actively thinking about it. If you’re constantly living your life that way, it’s like every time you get in your car and it’s on empty.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

  • 53:35 Sean: This isn’t about someone else. If you have three hours and you’re wasting them, you have no place to talk.

Don’t complain that someone else has six hours of free time.

What are you doing with the one or two hours that you have?

  • 54:02 You can say, “I don’t have four hours, so I’m going to waste these two?” but what does that help? You’re comparing yourself to someone else and saying, “I don’t have what they have so why bother? What’s the big deal if I waste this one hour, since I don’t have six?” It’s excuses!
  • 54:23 Ben: It’s difficult when you’re looking at someone else’s output, you admire it and you want that for yourself, but there’s no question that your circumstances are different from theirs. Even if everything on the surface looks the same as you—like the same kind or job or number of kids as you—your circumstances are still different. You can’t look at their output and think, “I should be able to do that,” because thinking that is only going to breed the frustration of feeling like you can’t make that happen with the time you have. You tend to think, “If I can’t do what they’re doing, then I’m just going to waste what I have.”

No One Person Is Doing Everything

  • 55:17 Sean: You cannot simultaneously focus on losing weight, working out, eating healthy, hiring in your business, improving your relationships, creating content, improving your marketing, becoming more confident, being a better parent, learning design, learning podcasting, learning videography, learning typography, recording music, painting, fixing the house, improving your finances, being a good neighbor, and waking up early. No one does all of that in one day, yet we get down on ourselves. I bet you can think of a person that you associate with every one of of those categories I just mentioned, because we follow people who have these specific focuses.

We project everything we’re doing onto other peoples’ lives, but we don’t see what they’re not doing.

  • 56:15 We say things like, “They work out, eat healthy, are confident, and have good relationships, but look at what a great cook they are!” “Look how buff they are!” “Look how good they are at design!” You just assume they’re doing everything you’re doing. You’re filling your life, your feeds, and subscriptions, with these people that specialize in different areas and you feel bad that you’re not improving in all of these areas simultaneously in any one given day. You look at me and might think, “Sean’s got a business and he’s hiring more employees. He must be doing so great! He’s creating all this content!” Yes, I do work hard, but you don’t see that I’m not eating healthy, I’m not being active, or when I neglect a relationship. You’re not seeing that with anyone else either.
  • 57:33 Ben: You take your newsfeed and you create this super person, then you compare yourself to this super person. That list you named off was all the standards I’m trying to hold myself against every single day. I blame things on the kids, that’s how I make myself feel better.
  • 58:27 Sean: I definitely don’t have any authority to speak on this topic, but if the kids are causing you to only have one hour of free time, instead of six, I’ll focus on asking: what you’re doing with that one hour?
  • 58:41 Ben: Sean, when you started doing your daily show, and I started watching other daily shows on YouTube, I wondered how I could do a daily show because I loved that idea. I had to remind myself though, not only do you not have six children, but you didn’t start doing a daily show until you had someone else helping you—operating the cameras and editing the videos every day. As easy as it should be for me to excuse myself from that, I still have a hard time. I wish that I could do a video show with my family stuff, but no.
  • 59:26 Sean: Gary Vaynerchuck has videos down to a science—he sits in there for 12 minutes and that’s it. He doesn’t go back and watch or edit. He has people that can write down the important things they can turn into different content and he goes off to his six meetings a day before a flight. Casey Neistat has a daily vlog, but he’s up every day until 3am editing it. That’s his life! He isn’t running a podcast network, he isn’t making a lettering course, he isn’t hiring employees. I hope people listening right now are feeling at least a little bit better about themselves. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you can’t do everything, because no one is. You’re projecting everything you already do onto other people, but they’re not even doing half of it. They’re pouring their life into the one thing you know them for and that’s the reason you know them for it.
  • 1:00:30 Ben: Focus on the things you’re doing that are meaningful but maybe aren’t your idea of successful or productive. If you look at Sean and think, “I wish I was doing more stuff like him,” take a second and look at your own life. What are you doing right now with your time that’s meaningful, bringing value into the world, and accomplishing something? Allow yourself to be encouraged by that and to feel accomplished in those things so you can focus in the right place. Maybe those things are the reasons you’re not able to do other stuff and that’s ok, because those things are important right now.
  • 1:02:08 Sean: I did this episode because one of the biggest struggles for people with lettering, but also in life, is not having time.
  • 1:03:02 Ben: Sometimes it’s not the practical things you need to change, but really it’s your mindset about the things you’re doing right now. That feeling of not having enough time sometimes comes from a place of feeling guilty, like you’re not doing as much as you should be doing right now. It’s not a matter of making more time, it’s a matter of realizing the time you’re spending right now is meaningful and it’s what you should be doing right now. Try to figure out where you can make one or two more hours in your week. Everyone has time-wasters and things they can adjust, but adjust your mindset too.