In this episode of The Moving Mastery Podcast, Louis Massaro shares some tips on how to stabilize your time and tech in order to scale after moving season.
- “All the distractions and noise of the outside world are hurting your focus and agenda for where you want to go with your life. So, it’s really important that before you start scaling your business that you get your time and technology under control.”
- “The last thing you want is to take on more business, open up more offices, acquire more trucks, etc… And not first stabilize how you manage your time so that you can move forward with intention, focus, and clarity.”
- “Your tech is one of the biggest consumers of your time. Your email, your notifications, your phone, social media, your computer, your tv, all your gadgets, and apps… They can all distract you and prevent you from creating the business and life you desire.”
- “I’m a big believer that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. I remind myself of that all the time. Because I know that it’s not that we need more time, it’s that we need to be more intentional with the time that we have.”
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Today we’re still talking about stabilizing. We’re coming out of a very busy moving season, a lot of you I know are still very busy. But for me every single year in October was the time to sit down, look at the previous six months of busy, busy, busy season and learn from what happened there, put together a strategy and a plan and then build out projects and start executing on that plan in the off season. October to May is scaling season for moving companies. So whatever you want to do, wherever you want to go, this is the time to do it.
But today we’re talking about time and tech because these days, our tech, which has amazing capabilities to help us with our time seems to be stripping away our time, seems to be holding us back from the things that we really want to accomplish in our life.
And today I want to talk about how we can stabilize your time so that you’re focused on the most important, impactful stuff in your business and your life, without the distractions and the noise of the outside world, that has nothing to do with your focus, your agenda, where you want to go in your life. So it’s really, really important that before you start scaling, you get these two things in line. The last thing you want is to take on more, open more offices, get more trucks, whatever that means for you, and not stabilize your time. How you manage your time with intention, with focus, with clarity. How you handle your tech as a tool and not a distraction.
Because I’m a big believer that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. We all know that, but I remind myself of that all the time, because it’s not that you need more time, it’s that you need to be more intentional with the time that you have. And set up systems and processes and ways and structures around how you manage yourself within the time you have, as opposed to trying to manage time.
You can’t manage time, you can manage yourself within the time you have. You’ve got to set that stuff up for success. A lot of people could say, “Hey, Louis, I like to be spontaneous and I like to just go with the flow.” Well, that’s great. And if you’re able to manage your time, you could carve out space for going with the flow. But if you’re going to run a successful business, you need to set yourself up for success. As a business owner, there’s some freedom and then there’s perceived freedom. There’s this idea that we’ve got all this additional time, we can choose what we want to do with our schedule. The problem with that is when we don’t have anyone telling us where to be and what to do as if we work for somebody else, or we were in school, we’re left to figure out moment by moment what to do.
And the key to long-term success and sanity is to design that plan in advance so that you’re not deciding moment by moment, what it is you need to do. I remember when my days consisted of putting out fires with my team, sitting down pulling up emails, just going through one, going through the next, going through the next, maybe finishing the emails, sitting there and be like, “Okay, what do I do next? What’s next.” If anybody deals with that, now I know it’s a common thing. It’s a problem. It’s a problem for your productivity, it’s a problem for your profits and it’s a problem for your peace of mind.
We want to get to that next level, but we want to do it in a way that is less stressful and less of a grind than how we got to our current level. My first few years in business were chaotic. Grind, hustle, grind, hustle, but in order to get to that next level, you’ve got to go beyond grind and hustle. You’ve got to take a step back and say, “Okay, what do I need to do to set myself up for success?” If you were a train and you’re running through the desert, with no tracks, it’s a bumpy road, bump, bump, you’re probably going to tip over a few times. What you have to do is you have to design and lay down those tracks so you can run smooth.
And that’s what quote, unquote, time management is all about. It’s about setting up structures around yourself so that you could succeed on a day-to-day basis without constantly going, “What’s next? All right. I finished that, what do I do now?” Because what happens there is we live in the land of reaction, putting out fires, answering calls, playing ping pong with people, with email. Email you, email me back, email you, email me back, checkoff checklist, checkoff checklist, checkoff checklist, and it feels productive. But then we look back after a few months, after a few years, and we’re like, “Why haven’t I made the progress that I want to make?” So that’s why we’re talking about your time. And that’s why we’re also going to talk about your tech because without getting these things in line, it’s about setting yourself up for the next phases. We’re stabilizing right now.
Then we’re going to move on to systematizing, getting all your systems in place, so that things run smooth, consistently, automatic, predictable, then we scale. It is the only way to go about doing this. So I got a few points here today, a few things I want to give you to think about and to start implementing.
So let’s talk about stabilizing your time. First thing we’re going to talk about is block time. What block time is, is it’s taking a look at your calendar, whether you’ve got a calendar on the wall, whether you’ve got a calendar on your desk, whether you got a calendar on your phone or on your computer, I suggest pulling it up on the computer, and blocking time in your days to work on the stuff that’s truly important. This is our first step of taking control of the 24 hours we have in a day. It’s to say, “Let’s look at these 24 hours and let’s decide in advance, what’s going to help our cause and what we’re trying to accomplish in life. And let’s make sure that there are blocks of time on the calendar to do that.”
Maybe you haven’t had time to review your numbers and because of that there’s some things that are hurting your business and there’s some opportunities that are being missed. You don’t have the clarity of knowing what’s truly going on. How do you solve that? There’s never going to be a day where you wake up and go, “You know what, today I’m just going to get to reviewing my numbers.” It’s got to be a block on the calendar, whether it’s weekly, whether it’s monthly, and it’s got to be a block that is there. And in that block, you work on that certain thing, let’s call this one, my numbers. Metrics and numbers. You should have a block on your calendar for metrics and numbers. Marketing. Maybe you haven’t had time to look into new sources, or you need to really review what you’ve got going on and make some adjustments for it. There needs to be a block for that.
Because otherwise the whole day is just based on reaction and things that are happening in the outside world or within your organization. Because when you set up a business and now you got this employee that employee, this employee, and you’ve got all these people going, it’s so easy to just show up to the office, it feels like they hook into you and they pull you around. “Come on, we’ve got this problem, we got this issue, we got this thing.” And you’re putting out fires, you’re handling it, you’re feeling super productive. You’re like, “Yeah, I’m on top of it. Good thing I was here today.”
But the needle movers, the things that are really going to permanently solve those problems and create predictability in your revenue and your income, those require time to sit in a focused manner. Your email. If you are still responding to email, meaning if email pings your phone or your desktop every time you get an email, you got to stop that. What I recommend is check your email in the morning… And this is only if for some reason you’re in customer service or you’re in sales. Meaning there’s a complaint that may come through or a customer has an issue that needs quick response, I suggest putting that in a different system and not your personal email. Or a sales request, which should really be going into your CRM, there’s no reason to be on email all day long. And I know this is not popular for a lot of people to hear this, but it’s a habit that as business owners we justify because it’s email. Email equals business.
“I’m handling business. I’m not playing games on my phone, I’m not on social media on my phone, I’m handling emails.” It feels like it’s productive. My recommendation, do a emergency check first thing in the morning, not first thing, we’ll talk about that in a second. Not first thing, but the minute you actually get your phone and pick it up, which should not be as soon as you get up. And then have one time, maybe two a day, where you process emails, not check them, but actually process them. Part of the stress, part of being your best self, part of being that moving CEO that can handle more, is being able to get that stress level down. Because otherwise the more you take on, the stress just rises with you, and then again, it goes from scaling to suffering. But so process your email once or twice a day, which means go through it, and every single email you need to take action on it.
Either do it, respond right away, delegate it to somebody else, or if it’s something that’s going to take more time and you need to schedule a block of time, to work on whatever it is, then put it in a folder, an action folder and go schedule it on your calendar or in your project management software. And then it’s done. Your inbox is down, it’s to zero, you handled it once a day at your time of choosing, I’m going on about this because it’s so important and I know it’s holding a lot of people back. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s holding a lot of people back. So block time. And one of the things that you really want to block is, you want to block that from the time you wake up, till the time you decide to work.
For me, my phone stays in airplane mode. I put it in airplane mode when I go to sleep. In other words, there’s no disruption, nobody’s texting me, calling me in the middle of the night. And I wake up, first thing I do is I get on the floor, I stretch, I meditate. I go over what I’m grateful for. I read for 30 minutes every day. And that’s my first hour and a half of every day for me, to take care of me, to get my mind right. Wherever you’re at in your business in order to go to that next level… you might have 10 offices already. In order to go to that next level, you’ve got to optimize you, you’ve got to optimize yourself. So give yourself a block in the morning where you do something that’s for you, where you’re not turning on your phone immediately checking the news, checking social, checking email. You’re not setting it off in the right time.
So that’s a little miniature introduction to block time. But you get the idea. The stuff that is important needs to have blocks of time on your calendar when you are going to handle it on your terms. The second thing we want to do to stabilize our time, micro decisions. Okay. Micro decisions. What this means… So we need to be optimized ourselves, in the way that we manage ourselves within the time we have. That’s why people struggle with time management because they’re trying to manage time. You can’t manage time, you just manage what you do within the time.
So micro decisions, these are the little, little, little, little, little, little decisions that you make on a day-to-day basis or don’t make on a day-to-day basis, that cause stress, that cause in decision on bigger items. Let me give you an example of micro decisions. Waking up every day and trying to figure out, what do I eat for breakfast? Waking up every day and trying to figure out, what do I work on today? What do I do the hour after lunch at the office? How do I handle a request that an employee has? In other words, if you start moving forward in your day and think about how many times a day you’ve got to make decisions, which is a lot. If you own a business, you’ve got a team, there’s a lot of decisions coming at you, but there’s little decisions along the way that aren’t being made.
And because you haven’t been decisive in those small little decisions that are different for everybody, then it causes issues in the company, it causes issues with leadership, it causes issues with time and it escalates your stress. So make a list of any little decision, go through your day and say, “Okay, what do I have to think through every single day? What am I going to do? Am I going to work out today? Am I not going to work out today? What am I going to eat?” If you decide these things in advance, what your stance is on all these little micro decisions, it’s going to allow you to just move quickly through your day and save your mental bandwidth. Now, if you’ve ever felt just completely exhausted at the end of the day or after an hour of the day, it’s because you’ve used so much mental bandwidth on decisions and in-decisions, you’ve allowed outside stuff to come at you in the way of emails and messages and notifications and disruptions.
It’s because you only got so much here, that’s why we’re depleted at the end of the day. The idea is you want to manage that, you don’t want to be depleted in the middle of the day. You want to end the day, be able to come home and still feel good to be with your family. And not be like, “Oh, just please leave me alone.” I’m not mocking you, if that’s you. That was me. And so I was there, I’m trying to show you a better way of doing this. So if you’re like, “Louis, I need to know how to scale my business.” I’m telling you right now, I see people do it, if you don’t get these things stabilized first, you might be off to the races, but chances are it’s going to come crashing down, or it’s just going to be suffering instead of scaling.
So next thing is, so make a list of those micro decisions. And slowly, don’t feel like you’ve got to make a decision on all of them right away, slowly keep looking at that list. “How am I going to handle this? How can I make this one decision once or for all, that’ll eliminate me having to think about it every day.” The next one is…
You’ve got to learn to eliminate distractions, identify the distractions and eliminate them. Let’s talk about possible distractions. Number one, I was going to hold my phone up, but I’m using it here for Instagram. The phone, major distraction. We’re going to talk about how to make it a tool and make it a weapon for your cause, but major distraction. We’re on social, social media is a major distraction. Hopefully they don’t kick me off for saying that right now. Alerts on your phone, news, outside information, negative information that has no effect on your life, your personal day-to-day. People interrupting you. I’m at home right now, nobody’s coming in here and interrupting me, because I set that structure up. If I was at my office, nobody would be coming in and interrupting me.
They know where there’s open windows of time, where we could talk, we could discuss, but I don’t believe in the open door policy. If you’re going to have an open door policy, great. It’s open between this time and this time. My personal belief, you may disagree. But you’ve got to take a look, I want you to make a list of what your distractions are. What they are. It could be an annoying sound that is like, [inaudible 00:26:01] where you live. Whatever it is, that’s a distraction. And a lot of times it’s the stuff that you put in place. A lot of times, it’s your team. It’s feeling as if you need to be so dialed in so that you feel that your employees feel that you know everything that’s going on. And by knowing everything that’s going on, you’re taking away from the stuff you really need to be focused on and you really need to be working on.
All these little things, setting up your calendar for block time, making the micro decisions, starting to eliminate distractions out of your life, whatever is not helping you is hurting you. The distractions have to go, the notifications have to go, the waking up to a phone full of stuff on the main screen there, it’s got to go. You have to protect your space, mental and physical like a warrior guarding a castle these days. Every piece of technology, every piece of media is out for you, they want you. Companies have people called attention engineers, I’m going to get kicked off social now. They have people called the attention engineers, their whole job is designed to keep you glued in. And if that’s you, it’s okay, it’s not your fault.
The AI, the artificial intelligence, it’s smarter than most of us, it knows how we think. The idea is to just recognize it. “Wow. Look at these distractions. Look how much time I’m spending doing this and look how much time I’m spending doing that. And then look how much time I tell people, I don’t have time for that and I don’t have time for that. The stuff that’s actually going to get me where I want to go.” Eliminate the distractions guys. I’m telling you, it will be one of the best things you could do for yourself. It’s one thing to learn, and you don’t always have to implement everything you learn all at once, it’s taking a piece here, taking a piece there, does that work for me right now in my life?
Is this something that would really give me that leverage that I need to start handling the other things? Because that’s what we’re doing right now is, we’re getting you leverage to be able to scale your business. With this stuff in the way, the stuff that needs to get stabilized, it makes it challenging if not impossible, to really scale a business. So when you learn stuff, never get overwhelmed by what you learn. I’ve got note books and files and books full of information. I pick and choose what I’m ready to apply, I go back through it periodically, and I pick and choose things to work on at any given time. Same thing with everything you want to do in your business. Everything you want to do in your business, you should really be thinking about, “What’s going to make the biggest impact now?
Let me work on those things and let me take that forward. And you know what, everything else I have to put it to the side for now. I know it’s important, but I’ve got to choose what’s really important and which piece of knowledge I’m going to choose to apply.”
So now let’s talk about your tech. We’re talking about stabilizing your time and stabilizing your tech, and they go hand in hand. Well, what We’ve talked about. A lot of this block time, a lot is micro-decisions a lot of this eliminating distractions tech was involved in those conversations. And so we need to stabilize the tech. And the first thing we want to do is tame or tech, put it in check. Use your tech as a tool, use your tech as a weapon for your cause. Do not be the puppet to your tech, be the puppet master of your tech.
And I’m passionate about this. So if I’m coming at you, it’s because I care. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, I’m trying to get through you how important this is because I know what you guys want. I talk to a lot of you, a lot of you are private clients, a lot of you were in our Moving CEO business program, I meet a lot of you at the events, connect with you on social and I know what you’re trying to accomplish. And we’re just in a time where the tech is unruly. Think about it like a garden. Your tech, your computer, your phone, your tech is constantly developing new ways to send notifications, get you on some other platform, let you know about this, let you know about that, breaking news.
But take a little bit of time, block a little bit of time on your calendar and take your phone out, and just look through it and say, “What apps really need to be on here? What’s really helping me move forward? What notifications should I just completely shut off?” And tame it. I’ll tell you a story. I started to really have this, when I realized the impact that my phone and technology was having on my productivity, my happiness, my wellbeing, my advancement in business.
I started to almost resent my phone. Like, leave the phone here, I’m going to leave the phone. That was my first stage of getting past this stuff. I’m like, “I’m going to leave the phone because I want some time, some peace, some quiet.” And over time I started to realize, there’s so much good that this phone provides. There’s so many apps that enrich my life. There’s so many tools on there that really help my business, that really help my day-to-day life, that really help my communication. Let me turn this into something that I truly, I don’t know, adore now. I feel really, really good about my phone now, It took me a while to get there. It took a few rounds of going through and getting rid of apps, going through and shutting off notifications, going through and learning how certain things work so I could decide, what’s really necessary and figuring out my workflow of what tools I actually need.
Learning to simplify, learning to realize that just because an app can do something useful, doesn’t mean that it’s not causing any type of harm or disruption or distraction in my life. And starting to weigh that stuff out, changed the game for me. Now my phone is a tool that I just used. I use the technology, the technology is not using me. If you haven’t done this, do this, I’m telling you it’s such a big deal. It’s such a big deal. Be the weirdo, it’s okay. People might look, “Louis, you’re a weirdo. You’re not on this, you’re not on that.” That’s okay. Because my sanity is there and I’m focused on building a life that I want to build and being able to also do this.
I couldn’t do this, plus build the life I want to build, plus have a happy home life, plus have a happy personal, mental wellbeing, if I didn’t do this stuff. So tame your tech. Now, you’ve also got to learn and optimize your software. And when I say software, I’m talking about your business CRM, I’m talking about your accounting software, I’m talking about your GPS for your trucks. I’m talking about anything that you’re using, any email services for marketing purposes for your business, learn and optimize this. Most of you know that I’ve also co-founded smart moving software. And so the reason this comes up is because now, I see that a lot of people will get in to a software program and pawn it off to their team.
And I’m here to tell you that over the years, every time I introduced a new software for lead management… and I had a lot of them, which was the reason that… The reason that I co-founded Smart Moving is because I used to use so much stuff to run my moving company. It was, something to estimate moves, something to schedule the move, something to text message customers, phone systems and dialers, GPS, accounting software, emailing, I know I’m forgetting something, and then tons and tons of spreadsheets. And what I realized is that I used to try to get these softwares and then have a manager and a team. I had over 250 employees at one point.
But when I implemented new systems, I would delegate that off to somebody on my team. And what I realized was that I wasn’t optimizing it because I didn’t learn it, I didn’t know it, I didn’t know what it was capable of. The difference is, when you delegate something to someone on your team, a lot of times what separates the visionary, you, the Moving CEO from maybe people on your team is, the people on your team are about execution, and you’re about, “I could see the possibilities of what happens here.”
So when you learn a software, any tool that you’re using, that your team is going to use and you learn it personally, it allows you to see what’s possible, what it could do. There’s so many tools, I couldn’t even… My bill for tech every month is insane. The amount of recurring software charges, it’s insane. So all of this stuff does so much more than we realize. So the point here is that, once you understand what your tool is capable of, your mind goes, “Oh, I could do that.” Until the electric saw was invented, or the drill, or the weed whacker I hear the landscaper out here with, people couldn’t envision the things that could get done, in the quickness and the efficiency that it could get done until they knew how to use the tool.
So I hope that makes sense. So what I’m saying is whatever, you’ve got, whatever tool you’ve got, whatever CRM you’ve got, whatever you’re using currently, just make it a habit to learn it and optimize it. I had one of our members, private client who asked a question at one of our Moving CEO live cast that we do every month. And it was about Smart Moving, and I’m not trying to plug it, I’m just using as an example and it really is the best. So if you guys want to check it out, go get a demo for yourself at smartmoving.com. And he’s got multiple franchises. And he said, “Should I be spending time learning the new module that just came out, the new storage module for handling all your storage?”
And I’m like, “Absolutely.” And those of you that have been with me for a while, you know I’m very big on delegation, I’m very big on empowering your team. But this is one of those things that, until you know what it’s capable of, you don’t know what you’re capable of using it for. So guys, let me just go through this again. Okay. Real quick. Block time. If there’s something you’re needing to do that you’re not getting done, don’t worry about blocking your whole calendar yet. If there’s something really important that you’ve just been like, “I can’t get to it. I haven’t been able to get to it.” Go on your calendar this weekend and next week, put a block of time on there that says, “I’m going to work on that thing.” Simple. We don’t have to make this over complicated.
Micro decisions. What small decisions do you need to make? For me, I used to wake up every day. “What do I have for breakfast today? What should I eat? What should I eat?” Now, every day, I have a shake, the same shake every single day. When I get tired of it, I’ll change it up a little bit. But until I get tired of it, every single day. Not saying that’s for you, you might want variety, good, decide. Say, “You know what? Mondays, I’m going to have eggs. Tuesdays, I’m going to have oatmeal.” Whatever the case might be. Make those micro decisions so that you’re not making them every moment of every day. Eliminate those distractions, make a list of the distractions in your life, eliminate them. It will be hard, you’ve got to fight for this.
You’ve got to fight for your time, but it’s so worth it. Tame your tech. Just next time you pull out your phone and you’re like, “I don’t want to even…” You pull it out, not even knowing where you’re going to go, you just want to click on something and click on something else, good. Start clicking on stuff, get it off there that you don’t need, you can always download it again later. Turn off the notifications from the stuff that you don’t need notifications on. You’re not going to miss out on anything that’s happening. You could schedule time to look at the news, you could schedule time to look at your emails, you could schedule time to be on social. And then learn and optimize the software that you have.
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