Try “unwork” to cut your tasks in half and double your income

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OrangehalfIn my conversation with Andrea Lee on Friday, we talked about a multitude of ways to reduce the struggle in building a great business.  One of the most interesting concepts was what she calls "unwork."

To explain it, she asked the simple question:

How could you double your income by cutting your workload in half?

To many smart and hardworking entrepreneurs, this can sound like heresy.  We easily fall prey to the outdated notion that  more work = more money.

In reality, doing the right things will lead us to more money, more free time and more satisfaction, if that is what we desire.  A lot of the work activities we spend our time doing are either:

  • Unnecessary
  • Low value
  • Low priority
  • "Delegate-able" as in someone else could do them better, cheaper and faster

Tim Ferriss, the cage fighting-tango contest winning-Chinese martial arts champion-master of viral promotion and author that just wrote 4 Hour Workweek encourages the same thing, just using different techniques and math.

Citing economist Vilfredo Pareto’s law of income distribution called "Pareto’s Law,"  he points out that 80% of company profits come from 20% of the customers. 

To get started cutting your own work in half (or 80 or 90% – the more the better!), try the following things:

  • List all of your current customers and the amount of business you do with each
  • List all of the activities you do to run, market and sell your business

And with each of the items on your list, ask yourself:

  • Of all the people I am working with or tasks I am working on which are the most profitable?  Which are the least?
  • What would be the result if I simply stopped doing this task?
  • How could I automate this task so that my time and energy wouldn’t be required to complete it?
  • Who could do this task for me so that I could free up my time to do something else?

Some of the lore and mythology around entrepreneurship is working all hours of the day and night, obsessing about details and never resting.  If you fall under this spell, you will most likely find yourself in the role of "entrepreneur with employee mindset," meaning you equate more work with more productivity.

I love how Tim Ferriss sums it up:

"Slow down and remember this:  Most things make no difference.  Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action."

Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

I am excited about applying some "unwork" principles to my business to see what the outcome is.  How do you think it might affect yours?

Filed Under: Managing your business

13 Responses to “Try “unwork” to cut your tasks in half and double your income”

  1. […] човек живее, за да е щастлив, а не за да работи. Ето една страхотна статия от Памела Слим, в която се развива отново тази […]

  2. Does more work = more money?

    Of course if you are billing hourly with your clients, more billable hours can equal more money. But we can’t forget about ongoing administrative tasks, marketing expenses, and other miscellaneous items that need to be accounted for (are these items bu…

  3. A management heresy

    Yesterday I found an interesting post from Pamela Slim’s blog entitled Try “unwork” to cut your tasks in half and double your income where she claims that the notion “Work more to make more money” is outdated and in fact brings us away from happiness…

  4. Very timely (as I sit here at 6:45 a.m.). The work life balance seems to be the first thing to go out the window when you start a company, but it’s so necessary for long-term success.

  5. Justin says:

    Keen insight at time when many of us work far too hard, and at great personal expense. It is always good to take a step back and view things from a fresh perspective. Focus on the things that provide the greatest ROI, as per the 80/20 rule listed above. Good stuff.

  6. Asia Nelson says:

    Long time listener, first time caller here … this is a godsend of a message. After my first year of leaving the cubicle to start a yoga business, I’m at a point where I’m wondering if I’m just going to end up giving the same kind of effort and energy but for less money. I love what I do, which has carried me thus far, and I’ve certainly seen improvements over the year (some of which are directly thanks to your blog!), but I desperately need to get rid of that “lazy-busy” mindset. Thank you for this information!

  7. Mike Ramm says:

    Great post! My mission in life is to make people stop working so hard and start thinking. I am really happy that there are people who bring the notion of “more work = more money” in question.

  8. JTreiber says:

    This was a great interview. The quotes are memorable and numerous. I, however, have a problem figuring out which tasks are unnecessary. I think I delegate well, but with a company with only two full-time employees, most of the work falls on us. The crazy thing is, I like being busy, and I don’t think much of what I do is wasteful. I could really benefit from a list of things that I could check off as being useless tasks I can avoid in the future. I am definitely a fan of cutting work in half where possible! 🙂

  9. DanM says:

    As a recovering workaholic I think the more you can delegate the better. I love the principle of sacking your customers too. Some of them take up too much resource. Going on holiday without internet access is essential! Tim has kindly answered a few questions over on my blog – have a gander!

  10. Heres Why Its Good For a Consultant to Tell the Employees How Much They Make

    I swear I had decided to write this before reading Pam Slims latest post about earning more by working less. But her thoughts dovetail so perfectly with mine.
    Recently, the hiring manager at a client company reluctantly agreed to my rate. But he…

  11. Keith Handy says:

    “Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

    Awesome, awesome quote. 🙂

  12. I think this is all very good advice. I would add that perhaps before cutting work in half that we consider all the things we do that are not even work at all. Chatting with service providers that we do not need or cannot afford. Writing blogs about our latest operation and our cat/do/snake/ferret. Web surfing instead of clearing out the email inbox (which can take a while). Checking email every 15 minutes instead of once every 2 hours.

    It is hard to be efficient but it is definitely worth the extra effort. I agree that we need to think before we act. The extra moment of thought can save more than a few moments of action.

  13. Great topic. And I love Andrea too…wise and successful woman who is “real”, gotta love that.

    What I would like to discover is how to best determine which activities I am doing are a) worth paying someone to do given limited startup funds and b) which I’m doing that are not worth paying someone because they don’t/won’t yield the best dividends or results for my investment (time or money).

    When you’re working full time and building a business (well almost actually 2 businesses) — this concept is even more important than if you have 40-60 hours a week to devote to your business.

    In answering my own question – it seems like the answer is in measurement — how can I measure which tasks get in the delegate bucket & which just get tossed in the bucket, but what are some of the best ways to measure the soft stuff (online article writing, doing the financial pieces, returning emails, etc, etc)?

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