Back in the day, I was under the impression that the more sweat I poured in, the more dough I’d rake in. You know the drill – show up before everyone else, leave after everyone else, raise your hand for every new project that comes along, and someday the rewards will roll in. But as it turns out, that’s a load of baloney.
Fast forward to today and I’m earning twice as much as before, while clocking in half the hours. Crazy, right? That’s why I decided to put together this little guide, to share with you how you too can make bank by working smarter, not harder.
I’ve gathered all of this information from my own experiences (and let me tell you, there were some epic fails along the way), research papers from productivity gurus, and insights from some of the biggest bigwigs in the biz. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Number 1 – Put Yourself in the Right Place
Kickstarting my journey, I made sure to land in the right auction room. For ages, I was underpaid, not due to a lack of talent, but simply because I didn’t find the right space to showcase my abilities.
Ever felt like you should be pocketing more cash than you currently do? Well, seek out a market where your skills are truly valued. Let me illustrate this with a story: a buddy of mine inherited a piece of land from his folks and saw potential in it.
He opted to sell it via a local Oxfordshire auction, just a stone’s throw from London, and made a sweet 25% profit. Fast forward two months, and lo and behold, the same land—same size, location, and all—was up for sale by the new owners on a London-based website, fetching a whopping 100% profit. The only difference? The land was listed on the right auction platform, where demand was higher, and its value skyrocketed.
I’ve applied this lesson to other aspects of my life, like when I was working at a bank and felt undervalued. Year after year, I’d ask for a pay bump, only to be told I’d maxed out for my corporate title.
Eventually, I took the plunge and switched to a different organization, armed with the same expertise, skills, and knowledge. Lo and behold, I scored a 30% salary hike. That’s when it hit me: if a room isn’t giving you what you want, don’t be afraid to walk out and knock on new doors.
You see, I possess a unique blend of talents—crunching numbers, analyzing data, public speaking, you name it. But as I’ve ventured into diverse rooms and industries, I’ve realized that the very same skill set is valued in wildly different ways. So, rather than focusing solely on honing your skills or putting in extra hours to prove your worth, why not ask yourself: how can I optimize my earnings by positioning myself in a room where my abilities will yield the biggest rewards? Find the space where your skills will garner the most significant returns, so you can stop settling for less than you deserve.
Number 2 – The Steve Jobs Rule
You know, it’s one of those nifty little principles that you can sprinkle all over your life – career, relationships, and even your entrepreneurial endeavors. I’ve dubbed it the Steve Jobs Rule ’cause the man himself used this very idea to pull Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy. It’s all about the Pareto Principle, which tells us that a mere 20% of the causes whip up a whopping 80% of the results.
Take relationships, for example. We get about 80% of our happiness from just 20% of our partner’s quirks and habits. And when it comes to our wardrobe, don’t we all rock that favorite 20% of our clothes a solid 80% of the time? (Well, maybe it’s more like 100% for me!)
As for my YouTube channel, 20% of my videos raked in 80% of the revenue and subscribers. When Steve Jobs made his triumphant return to Apple, he quickly zeroed in on the 80% of profits coming from a select few products and axed the rest. And, for a while, Apple’s image revolved around the holy trinity of the iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
Now, I know it’s not always a perfect 80-20 split. Sometimes it’s more of a 70-30 or 90-10 situation. But the core idea remains: the lion’s share of the results stems from a minority of causes.
The flip side? A small chunk of results is born from the bulk of causes. I’ve taken this concept to heart, using it to rake in more dough while putting in fewer hours.
I carefully consider which 20% of my to-do list will yield 80% of the results, then zero in on those high-ROI tasks. I structure my day to give top priority to the most lucrative projects, and only after those cash cows have been properly pampered do I move on to the less impactful tasks on my list.
Number 3 – Set an Achievement Date
You know, I’m that kind of person who, when gearing up to dive into something new, I’ll spend eons trying to wrap my head around every tiny detail, and strategize for all possible scenarios before even taking the first step. But I’ve realized, this approach isn’t exactly the winning ticket. To genuinely rake in more dough while working less, I’ve got to make sure I don’t linger in the “motion phase” for too long.
There’s this quote that nails it: “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” To get real results, you’ve got to organize your tasks like a boss and execute them with finesse. Otherwise, it’s just like kids frolicking in a playground – loads of movement, but no real accomplishments. So, these days, when I’m struck by a brilliant idea or an enticing project, the first thing I do is set an action date.
For instance, when I first dabbled in real estate, I’d spend weeks, even months, soaking up every last bit of knowledge I could find. I’d crunch the numbers, dissect every deal from every angle, and obsess over potential returns. But despite all that, I couldn’t bring myself to actually make an offer. I was just too worried about the what-ifs. And while I felt like I was making progress, I wasn’t really making money.
So now, whenever I embark on something new, I kick things off by picking an action date and work my way back. Sure, I can shuffle it around if necessary, but I’ll always set a non-negotiable deadline for shifting from the planning stage to the action stage. This keeps me from wasting precious time on the wrong tasks. And having a clear goal to work towards helps me break free from my own mental roadblocks and achieve those coveted results much faster.
Number 4 – Focus on Value Over Hours
To break free from the handcuffs of trading hours for dollars, it’s crucial to establish scalable and automated income streams that don’t rely solely on your time. For many of us in day jobs, our primary strategy for boosting our earnings has been either to put in extra hours or up our game in our current roles to score a higher salary.
This was my mindset for a long time, too. The snag with this approach, though, is that it comes with some pretty significant limits. After all, there’s only so much of your time you can sell. In one of my previous guides, I mentioned a friend who worked as a personal trainer. Pre-pandemic, she specialized in one-on-one coaching sessions, offered through her local gym and at clients’ homes. She was always booked solid and had a roster of nearly 50 clients.
Eventually, she branched out into group sessions, renting spaces and organizing workout events. But she soon realized she’d hit a wall: there was no way she could take on more clients or rent bigger venues because her time was maxed out. She could eke out a bit more income here and there, but nothing substantial. Then the pandemic struck, and she pivoted online, creating free content while developing an app to guide users through meal plans and workouts.
When her app launched, most of her clients hopped on board. They recommended it to friends, who recommended it to their friends, and the chain continued. Now, there was no ceiling on how many people could sign up or how much money she could make. Sure, she was still putting in the same hours, but her earnings had skyrocketed. Admittedly, this route may be riskier and success isn’t guaranteed, but the rewards can be astounding.
If you want to earn more while working less and escape the rat race, it’s time to shift your perspective away from selling your time for money. Consider a skill you possess that could provide value to the largest number of people, and think about how you can leverage that to make a positive impact on others. Ponder the most significant problem you can solve – that’s where the magic happens.
Number 5 – Embrace Your Inner Captain
A nugget of wisdom from Novell Ravican’s tweet has struck a chord with me over the past year, emphasizing the significance of choosing the right projects and collaborating with the right people, rather than simply grinding away at work. This insight is a game-changer when it comes to working smart.
Putting in long hours means little if you’re not focusing on the proper tasks, and even when you’ve got the right task at hand, you’ll eventually hit a wall where progress demands the right teammates. The adage, “the captain commands, but the rowers steer,” sheds light on the vital roles each team member plays in navigating the ship on its intended course. If you’re perpetually buried in daily tasks, too busy rowing to see the horizon, you’ll lose sight of the bigger picture and whether your vessel is even heading in the right direction.
Unlocking the secret to boosting your income without doubling your efforts or toiling away harder involves working on the business, not just in it. Dedicate your time to shaping the business while enlisting the support of skilled professionals in various fields to help execute the details. So, these are the five strategies I’ve employed to generate more income while working less.