Dan Kennedy is the highest-paid copywriter working today.
In a given year, Dan writes newsletters, books, home study courses, and more—all while running two seven-figure coaching and consulting businesses (and competing in several harness races per week).
While it’s easy to assume Dan’s ability to achieve at a high level is due to automating and delegating his business or hiring employees, such an assumption is wrong. In fact, Dan doesn’t even have Internet access at home. Nor does he have employees.
In truth, Dan is able to get so much done because of his unconventional approach to time management.
I recently read one of Dan’s books, No B.S Time Management for Entrepreneurs, and today, I want to share with you seven actionable ways Dan masters his time. Plus, how you can, too (even if you’re not an entrepreneur).
Let’s get started.
1. Calculate Your Base Earning Target
If you’ve ever read a time management book, it’s likely the author invited you to calculate the dollar value of each workday hour (depending on your income or the income you want to achieve).
For instance, if your base earning target (BET) is $200,000 a year and you work eight-hour workdays, each hour would be worth $113.64 presuming you work 220 workdays a year.
But there’s a problem: no one works eight productive hours a day.
As Dan writes, “The workday hour is one thing, the productive hour—or what I call the billable hour—is another.”
A billable hour, according to Dan, is:
“The deliberate, strategic investment of your time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources, and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals.”
Let’s assume, as a conservative estimate, you’re productive one-third of your workday. With only one of three hours counting as billable, you need to multiply $113.64 by three to get your real billable hourly rate ($340.92).
This becomes your governing number for $200,000 a year.
2. Slay Time Vampires
Time Vampires, according to Dan, are “needy, thirsty, selfish, and vicious creatures who, given an opportunity, will suck up your time and energy and leave you weak and debilitated.”
They come under many guises. “Mr. Have-You-Got-a-Minute?” is perhaps the most pervasive of all the Time Vampires. It’s reasonable to give him a minute, right? After all, he only needs a minute. Who are you to reject him?
The problem is, if you give in to him a few times, he begins “dropping in” to your office, uninvited, several times a day.
Another Time Vampire is “Mr. Trivia.”
He will get you off track and get you to set aside your carefully organized list of priorities in favor of his due to his inability to differentiate between the important and unimportant.
Ignore Time Vampires at all costs.
3. Be Punctual
For 40 years, Dan has worked with countless multi-millionaires. During that time, he’s noticed one principle successful people follow more than any other:
Being on time.
In his own words:
In Dan’s view, people who aren’t punctual aren’t trustworthy. It’s a red flag. And if you tolerate it, you’ll let yourself in for a world of disappointment later.
Takeaway. In an interview with Neil Strauss and Gabrielle Reece, actor John C. McGinley said his father always told him, “If you can’t be on time, be early.”
So, if you’re considering hiring an employee or doing business with a potential client, judge them by the ability to be where they’re supposed to be, as promised, without exception, without excuses, every time, all the time.
4. Link Everything to Your Goals
Jim Rohn, famous for mentoring countless motivational speakers including Tony Robbins, once said that the only real reason more people do not become millionaires is that they don’t have enough reasons to.
Similarly, Dan’s insist that the only real reason more people aren’t much, much more productive is that they don’t have enough reasons to be.
So, if you want to be more productive, you need to have more and better reasons. You need to turn your shoulds into musts, and, as Dan advises, fight to link everything you do to your goals.
To determine whether what you’re doing is productive as per the above definition, ask yourself a quality question like, “Is what I am doing, this minute, moving me measurably closer to my goals?”
You can’t answer “yes” to everything. That’s a given. But for actions that are within your control, you can determine whether you’re fooling yourself (e.g. checking Facebook rather than working on your goals, for instance).
As a rule of thumb, anything beyond a 50% “yes rate” qualifies as peak personal productivity.
What is your “yes rate” today?
5. Practice “Clearing the Calculator”
In his popular book, Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz writes about “clearing the calculator.”
If you have your phone nearby, grab it and open the calculator. After solving one problem, you’ll find you need to hit the C button before moving onto another.
In his studies of human behavior, Dr. Maltz observed that we often try to use our minds to work on several problems at once without ever stopping to hit the “clear” button.
According to Dan, to achieve maximum personal productivity, you need to practice stopping, storing, and clearing your “screen” so you can direct 100% of your mental powers to one matter at a time—to the matter at hand.
In his memoir, My Unfinished Business, Dan recounts one particular experiencing with clearing the calculator. One day, to his embarrassment, Dan’s car got repossessed during a wealth building seminar he was running (oh, the irony).
After retrieving his briefcase from his car, Dan hit his “clear” button and continued speaking. His ability to compartmentalize his challenge worked: at the end of the seminar, he closed the entire room on more training—more than enough to get his car back.
Dan writes, “If you can’t control your thoughts and manage your mind, you can’t control or manage your time.”
Wise words, indeed.
6. Cure Alibi-itis
People often fail to arrive where they want to be because of excuses. They entitle themselves by making “should statements” like “I work hard—I should be doing better,” and in doing so, succumb to what Dan calls, alibi-itis: choosing a nifty alibi over a difficult path to achievement.
Have an alibi, an excuse for why you’re not where you want to be, is, in Dan’s view, why so many people fail to advance much from one year to the next. “The alibi,” as writer Eric Hoffer writes, “is far more attractive than an achievement.”
Ask yourself, “Am I not getting the results I want because I’m making excuses?”
If the answer is yes, you know what to do.
7. Quit Social Media
Achieving peak productivity requires you concentrating all your focus on ONE task until you complete it.
But with social media vying for our attention, our ability to concentrate, without interruption, is compromised with each like, share and comment.
Unsurprisingly, Dan is NOT a fan of social media, echoing many of the reasons Cal Newport gives in his book, Deep Work.
Granted, if you’re a business owner and social media is part of your marketing strategy, by all means, use it. But remember, you should treat it as media—not something you do.
Dan’s advice isn’t for everyone. And if it isn’t for you, I would invite you to ask yourself why.
Often, the advice we need isn’t the advice we want. So, if the thought of confronting your excuses or quitting social media makes you uncomfortable, it might be the very thing you need to address, first.
As with all the books I read, I wrote a full summary which you can read here.
Which of above do you agree with most? Leave a comment below.