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How Do You Prioritize Time When You Have Lots of Projects and New Ideas?

I have a serious problem.  I'm addicted to new ideas.

In fact, in all of the personality tests I've taken, the aspect that always ranks the highest is my ability to come up with creative and new ideas to problems.  As a result, it should come as no surprise that I'm an entrepreneur.  I thrive on creating new solutions and starting new ideas.

Being an entrepreneur has been very good to me personally and financially.  Ever since quitting my corporate job 8 years ago (March 11th, 2011 to be exact), I have felt more motivated and satisfied with my work than ever before.  And my “work” has paid off financially for me and my family significantly better than my corporate job ever did.

Here's just a few of the things I've started in the past 8 years:

I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed of everything I've started.  I've certainly built some cool things that I'm proud of.  But what would be different about my business if I had just focused on one or two large projects instead of a couple dozen?  Would my income be greater and more stable?

After all, with so many projects I'm pulled in a dozen different directions each day.  I spend 30 minutes answering customer issues with Table Labs or spend a little bit of time working with a developer to fix a bug with AMZ image.  Then perhaps I spend an hour working on a niche site, or fixing an issue with another niche site.

Then I realize I haven't written a blog post in 2 weeks for Niche Pursuits or completely stop recording podcast episodes for several months on end.  Oh and my “to-do” list is about 30 tasks long.

And the emails don't stop coming on a daily basis.

To say the least, I feel like I've stretched myself too thin and I need to take some drastic action or I'm going to keep just treading water and not getting anywhere.  Perhaps you can relate?

Overall, I'm going to share my thought process of how I plan to better prioritize my time and projects moving forward.  I don't pretend to have all the answers; however, perhaps we both can learn something through this blog post (I'll learn as I write, you learn as you read).

Learning to Say “No”, Like Warren Buffet

I started thinking about this subject for 2 reasons:

  1. I sometimes feel I'm overly “busy”.
  2. Someone posted a couple of insightful things about how Warren Buffet operates in a slack group I'm part of.

As this article on Medium points out, Warren Buffet and other highly successful people learn how to say “no” to almost everything.  For example, this article points out a few things that Warren Buffet does to have better time management and results.

First: Eliminate busy work. 

Easier said than done of course, but this is something I clearly need to do better at.  The medium article then highlights 3 ways that Warren Buffet prioritizes things and I think it's so powerful, I'll just quote it below.  

We get insight into how Buffett deals with distractions and obligations via his personal pilot, Michael Flint. Buffett once walked Flint through his three-step strategy for prioritization

  1. First, Buffett had Flint write down his top 25 goals on a piece of paper.Go ahead and write your goals down now.
  2. Next, he had him circle the top 5. So far, nothing special.
  3. Finally, he had Flint take the 20 goals he did NOT circle and put them on an “avoid-at-all-cost” list. This is the step where you see Buffett’s true prioritization genius. At this point, most people would simply just focus on the top 5 goals and intermittently work on the rest of the goals. Not Buffett though. He advised Flint: “No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”

(After more research, it's possible this story about Warren Buffet writing down 25 goals is not real.)

Real or not, I think the principle of avoiding busy work is the same, and I find this process extremely insightful.  Turns out I have lots of “avoid-at-all-cost” tasks that I have not been avoiding.  Time to make some corrections.

Second: Focus on a Few, High Quality Bets

I'm starting to see a pattern here with Warren Buffet.  I wish I could say I always followed this.  However, rather than focusing on a few things that I know could make a significant amount of money, I've often allowed myself to get pulled into ideas that I knew might only make a few hundred dollars a month, just because I knew I could do it…and it was kinda fun to start.

Now I have dozens of things that were kinda fun to start, that don't really make an impact on my bottom line.

Once again, Warren Buffet gives me pause for how I've been doing things.  Check out his video below:

In a nutshell, we should all be waiting for those “sweet spot” pitches to come our way.  We don't need to be swinging at everything that we think we might be able to hit.  We should only be swinging at those where we have the highest possible percentage of getting a hit or a home run.

In other words, instead of starting dozens of different projects to see which one takes off; perhaps it's better to wait until we find that business idea that fits our “circle of competence” extremely well that we know we can knock out of the park.

Third: Focus on Long Term Bets

When I first started building niche sites before I quit my job, my only goal was to quit my job.  I wanted to make enough money from my sites to replace my day job income.  I wasn't focused on quality websites or some long term vision…I just wanted out of my job!

I'm forever fortunate that I was able to create an income stream that allowed me to quit my job. However, out of those hundreds of little niche sites that helped me quit my job back in 2011, almost none of them exist anymore.  I have essentially had to re-invent my business 2 or 3 times since quitting my job back in 2011.

Would it have been better to focus on projects that could actually stand the test of time instead of only lasting for a year or two?  In a lot of ways, it probably would have been a lot easier, that's for sure.

Warren Buffet averages around 20 years as his holding period for his investments.  He's not looking for something that he makes money in the next year or two and then quickly get out.  He's in it for the long haul.

I think there is a lot to be learned here.

So, What Next?

Great, so Warren Buffet has it all figured out, but how can I actually start to implement some of these things?  Well, I've taken an inventory of all the business projects that I've started or gotten myself involved in and I've decided to untangle myself from most of these businesses.

In other words, I'm only going to keep my top projects and eliminate or sell everything else.

In fact, I'm starting right now.  I've just listed 5 websites/businesses that I am selling right here.

If you are in the market to buy something, I'm looking to sell a few things that I put a lot of time and effort into, so please feel free to take a look.  Overall, it's a decision (to sell several things) that I've been considering for a few months now.  

The main reason for selling should be obvious at this point.  I have way too many things going on and this will allow me to focus my time and energy on a couple of things that really deserve more time and energy.

I'm now going to learn to say, “No” to most new ideas that come my way and will do my best to wait for the ones I think can be a home run.  That means fewer, larger projects.

What Am I Keeping?

After I sell off the 5 sites that are listed here, I will still have a few sites left.

I purchased 2 larger websites less than a year ago, that I now feel don't really fit into my overall strategy.  Both have been good investments so far; however, I am going to eventually sell both of these as well.  However, they are not listed for sale yet because we are working on a few things for both of them and I've owned them for less than a year.

One of the sites I purchased was FBAmaster.com (which I shared originally here), and it's doing well.  However, I will most likely look to sell the site in the next 6 months (but not right now).  

The other site I purchased was a “Mom Blog” as explained here.  Even though my partner and I essentially have other people running the business, I may look to sell this one as well in the next 12 months.  However, this one is less of a concern because it is mostly “hands-free” for me.  

Then I have one other niche site that is a passion for me that I just can't get rid of; even though it's not making much money and I don't put any time into it…I just can't let it go…yet.

Overall, that will leave me with NichePursuits.com, my Niche Site Project 4 site (that I recently started)…and that's about it!

I've allowed myself to dream about what I might be able to accomplish if all I focused on was NichePursuits.com and my new niche site.  I think some really good things would happen.

And I have to confess that I do have a WordPress plugin in the works that I started a couple of months ago.  I would actually kill the project if it wasn't a good fit for where I want my business to go.  However, if I'm going to focus on NichePursuits and my audience here, this new WordPress plugin is a great fit.

I'll have more to share on it in the coming weeks and months.

Your Thoughts

I do imagine sometimes what I could build if I actually focused my time and energy on one project as opposed to 10 or so, like I usually do. Perhaps I would even have time to bring back the podcast! 🙂

Overall, I don't have all the answers about what is best for your business.  But as I reflect on where I am at currently, I can clearly see that I'm giving myself alot of busy work without giving myself the true ability to grow something great.

I'm going to do my best to change that.  What about you?  I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Strategy and Mindset

By Spencer Haws
February 19, 2019 | 25 Comments

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Avi l

This is an amazing post. A few questions.
1) it seems your getting rid of basically everything why not just hired people to run them and then you barley have to do anything on them? Warren buffet still owns other companies he just let’s people run them.
2) what you going to live off? Just from nichepursuits.com and your nitlche site project 4 doesn’t seem like you can make a living or the amount of money you have been making?
3) you never mentions about you still getting paid from longtailpro.com right?
4) are you going to do real estate investing I think you should be investing something in this field.

Thank you
Avi

Spencer Haws

1. Warren buffet owns companies making billions after they pay CEOs and everything. I could outsource many of the businesses I run (and already do), but they are not big enough businesses that I can walk away 100%.
2. I’ll be fine :).
3. Yes, I still own a portion of Long Tail Pro.
4. I have lots of investments; although my real estate holdings are in funds, I don’t own outright.

Kari

I’m interested to hear your thoughts in the future when you only have a few sites.

I’m the same as you… I always have ideas rolling around in my head and want to start as many of them as possible.

Then sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just focused on my best site and nothing else. It’s doing very well for me right now. But I have 4 other sites that need my attention and effort. So with more effort and attention on my best site, would I easily triple my income?

But, then I wonder what could potentially happen to my other sites if I don’t let them go. And, since I’ve sold some sites for a good profit, I think that maybe I can sell them in the future after they take a turn for the better.

And then I think of a new idea, buy a domain, and hold it until I have time to work on it. Lol.

Good luck with your sales!

Spencer Haws

Yep, it’s a constant struggle!

AJ

I had a simular awaking at the end of last year. I had spent over 2 years building around 5 websites which went nowhere. Yet I was working 14 hours a day plus. Since Jan I’ve only logged into 4 of those to update WP. I’m down to working on a solid plan on two websites. I’m actually achiving more and wasting less time, and working fewer hours.

It’s great to slim down and start saying no!

Spencer Haws

That’s awesome to hear, AJ. Thanks!

Shafi Khan

An eye-opening post, Spencer. I’m guilty of the same problem and have been thinking of getting rid of sites and focus on only 1 or 2 sites at a time.

Currently, I’m working with 2 clients, run my main blog (BlogCharge) which I haven’t updated, 3 different niche sites, and have 5 domains which I bought but never got the time to work on.

It’s crazy and everyday I blame myself for wasting my time thinking about new short-term ideas. But, the story repeats everyday.

Thanks for this amazing article and the video. Going to make the list now and create my “avoid-at-all-cost” list.

And good luck with your future projects 🙂

Regards,
Shafi Khan

Spencer Haws

Thank you Shafi!

Bhuboy

I really cant relate to this, as a solo online entrepreneur, I always find myself with lots of things to do with little to no result to show for it. I was actually thinking about this when I receive your email. now I have to decide which site to keep, a competitive passion site, or less competitive but not my passion site.

Spencer Haws

It’s a tough decision, good luck!

laurenlewis

Thanks for sharing such good fruitful information with us, keep up the good work and keep sharing with us in future as well.

Igwe chrisent

This really blew my mind away.

Warren buffet isone man i admire alot and have been learnig alot from his teachings.

Kimi Phan

Same problem with me. I always have new ideas and solution to problems. right now I am running 5 sites in different niches. Time to think and apply 80/20 rule to eliminate 80% of sites don’t make serious income.

We need to take time back and focus on the right stuff.

Spencer Haws

Yep, I agree.

Amund

I have started to read all of your posts with great interest. Great website you got here.

Exactly a year ago I started “downsizing” on the number of projects. Had 10 affiliate sites, but sold 7 of them – and I have not regret. Wish I had only focused on one single project when I started 9 years ago….that would be my advice to anyone that are about to make their first passive income site. DO NOT start a second page.

Spencer Haws

I agree!

Kimi Phan

Thanks for your advice! I wonder how about 3 sites remain doing now? Is it make a good income and become an Authority site?

Nomar

Interesting Spencer. I will check your sites for sale out 🙂

Would love to see more posts on niche pursuits, so that would be good

Agnes

Hi Spencer,

Your blog posts always inspire me. I have been working on 1 site that has made zero $$ for the last 2 years. I am still struggling to ensure that I give it my all. The future is bright and I am hoping that one day I will make money with my site.

I wish you all the best as you sell the 5 sites.

rajuchalna

Thank you for such an insightful post.

Anil Agarwal

Hi Spencer,

Excellent tips. You need to learn how to manage your time if you want to succeed online. We often get carried away by too many things while building an authority site. There are also many bloggers who start 2 or more blogs while their primary blog is just taking off.

I’ve been blogging for over 9 years now and I’m running the same blog where I’m putting all my efforts instead of launching new sites. Although I recently have launched 2 niche sites just because I can afford to hire few people to create content.

You should say no to almost everything that comes in your way while building a profitable site. That’s the key success. It’s really hard to say no to things when you’re on cloud 9 but that’s what you should do if you want to survive even in the long run.

Glad you shared few great tips and thanks for sharing the inputs with us. Keep up the great work.

The Climber

Thank you so much mate, very informative post and well written. Keep the nice work you’re doing!

Kathleen

Hi Spencer,

Wonderful article, thank you.

Like you, I also thrive on creating new solutions and starting new projects. I attempt to funnel my creative energies into my Top 3 – 5 goals/outcomes. I can still create new ideas and concepts by going deeper within those domains.

It’s a constant struggle. I LOVE your suggestion to create the “Avoid at all Costs” list. I’d love to hear more about how to make the list work for us creative entrepreneurs.

Keep dreaming about what you’ll accomplish when all you focus on is your NichePursuits.com and new niche site!

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