Pay Yourself First

Chris Brogan I’m asked often how I balance my time. I think what you’re asking is, “how can you run two companies, write for several blogs and magazines, write a book, speak professionally, and still have a family?” I do it. I really do manage all that. And most parties in that mix feel like they get a lot of attention from me. But it’s not easy. The way I accomplish it, and the way I’ll do even more going forward is that I pay myself first.

UPDATE: Nate DiNiro points out that Jeremiah Owyang wrote very similar posts back in 2007, in 2008, and 2009. It figures that I’m once again catching up to something Jeremiah’s known for years. : )

Pay Yourself First

You might have heard that expression when learning about how to manage money. The experts say that you have to give yourself your allotment of money before you pay any bills, etc, that it’s the secret to figuring out your finances. I’m using it in a similar way, but in our case, I’m talking about time and efforts.

I spoke with Arianna Huffington the other day in New York City, and she was talking about how she’s working on getting more sleep. She used to be one of those who ran herself ragged and nearly bragged about it, because that’s what it takes to show that you’re dedicated and determined. A recent interview with Mike Arrington in Inc magazine said the same thing, that he used to really burn the candle at both ends, but that he’s backed off from that stance and is doing more to take care of himself. Well, count me in that same group.

Over the last few months, I’ve experimented with getting more sleep. I started going down to rest at the same time I put my kids down (around 8:30PM ET), and then I’d get up with them (around 6:30AM). That has worked out rather well. Sure, I don’t get to squeeze in a few extra things each day the way I used to, but I am also far more rested and far more ready to take on the world when I wake up. That’s just one way that I’m paying myself first, by sleeping an appropriate amount of hours.

Areas Where You Should Pay Yourself First

If you want to improve your lot in life, if you want to balance your priorities, here’s my quick little recipe for paying yourself first:

  • Get as close to 8 hours of sleep a night as you can.
  • Schedule “do not disturb” time with your family as often as possible.
  • Weigh every business opportunity against your change in quality of life.
  • Ask for what you’re worth, so you can work the right number of hours for respectable pay.
  • Work your core projects first over all external projects.
  • Weigh the negatives and positives of any trip you might be asked to take. Decide accordingly.
  • Realize that physical fitness boosts mental fitness and make it a priority, not a nice-to-have.
  • Listen for warning signs (your body tells you when you’re messing with its parameters).
  • Cut out junk: food, hours, consumption, entertainment. Your mind and body deserve the best.
  • Audit how you’re spending your time and validate whether it’s working for you.
  • Get out into nature once every two days at least. Nature is that other window with the higher resolution.

Preaching A Bit

I realize that I might sound a bit preachy in this one. I’m working to answer a question that is frequently asked of me. You don’t have to do it my way. But when you wonder how I’m getting as successful as I am, oddly, it’s because I’m doing the opposite of what you’d suspect. I’m working fewer hours now than I used to work last year. The trick of it all is that I’m working the right hours, and I’m managing my time and demands on my time much better.

I hope with all my heart this is useful. What else can I answer?

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