Rules? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules!

Follow the rules

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are two behaviors I see mastered by almost every successful business owner and manager. I’ve written about this previously—a lot. But these two behaviors—or skills—are so important that they are worth repeating over and over until the message is heard, internalized, and put to work in your daily life.

The first skill appears to allow you to make something out of nothing. I really don’t want to tell you what it is, because as soon as I do, you’re going to say, “Oh, that again,” and let it go by the wayside once more. I would like to find a way to make it sexy, disruptive, exciting, or even obnoxious, but it’s none of these things. It’s a solid principle that every successful businessperson employs. OK, here it is (drumroll please): It’s time planning. “Ugh,” you say, “not that again.” But that’s it.

So, what’s the “make something out of nothing” I was talking about? Well, when I start to work with a new client, one of the first questions I ask is how that person manages time. When Violand Management engages with a client, we ask the client to dedicate 10% to 15% of their time to working on their business…and they look at us like we just asked them to sacrifice a goat.

“Where am I going to get five to eight more hours per week? I hardly see my family as it is,” the client will say. And this opens the door for me to start the discussion about how they manage their time.

Honestly, I have seldom seen clients come to us who are masters of time planning. But most people can easily gain 10% to 15% more time just by managing it correctly. In other words, you don’t make more time. You just learn to effectively manage the time you already have, allowing you to dedicate that 10% to 15% working on something else instead of what you’re currently using it for. You don’t work any longer; you just work smarter. I know, I know. That’s an over-used phrase. But it’s accurate—extremely accurate.

So how did I become so adamant about learning to plan time? It all started for me in the early ’90s. I was attending a restoration conference in San Diego when a very successful friend of mine walked into the room carrying a leather-bound folder. Being the sarcastic jerk I was at the time (I was in my 30s and thought I knew everything), I said, “Hey Jeff, nice purse!” Jeff replied, “It’s not a purse. It’s a Franklin Planner.” After again mentioning that it looked like a purse, Jeff proclaimed that this “purse” had changed his life.

More sarcasm from me resulted in Jeff challenging me to take the Franklin time planning course. In fact, he said that if I completed the course and it didn’t change my life, he’d pay for the course and all of my expenses. Well, Jeff never had to pay me a dime. Learning how to manage my time genuinely did change my life.

I could go on and on about the benefits of learning to be the master of your time, but I’m guessing you’ve gotten the idea by now. I believed in it enough that as my company grew, every person who held the position of project manager and above was required to take the Franklin course and adopt the system into their daily work life.

Please understand that this is not an advertisement for the Franklin Planner and the system that goes with it. I honestly don’t care what system you use. I just care that you have a time planning system. And this statement brings us to my second point.

This point is even worse than my first was when it comes to not being sexy, disruptive, exciting, or obnoxious. This one can be outright painful because it revolves around discipline. “Ugh,” you say one more time.

The best laid plans are absolutely worthless unless you can reach down deep and find the discipline to execute those plans. I don’t care if they revolve around planning a wedding, building a house, or managing your time. If you don’t set rules for yourself and follow those rules, all of that time you spent planning is simply wasted.

“Wait a second,” you say. “Rules? Who said anything about rules?” I’m talking about rules that keep you from allowing others to steal your time. I’m talking about rules you set for yourself where you require yourself to plan your week every Monday morning. I’m talking about rules you set for yourself where you don’t close out your day without acting on every item on your task list.

I’m not saying you need to finish every item. I’m saying you need to act on every item. You can complete the item. You can move it forward. You can delegate it. Or you can deem it unworthy of further effort and eliminate it. Regardless of which you choose, you will have acted on every single item. Because you had the discipline to play by the rules—your rules.

To sum this up, success lies right behind planning and discipline. This concept might sound like a trap, but trust me. Following these two principles will liberate you, not trap you. Give them a try.

Bill Prosch

Bill Prosch, CR, is a Business Development Adviser for Violand Management Associates (VMA), a highly-respected consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Prosch is a leading expert in operations and a Certified Restorer. He has a deep understanding of entrepreneurial challenges having owned and operated a successful restoration company for more than 30 years. Through Violand, he works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit or call (800)360-3513.

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