#052: The Highest and Best Use of Your Time

Welcome to The Accelerated Investor Podcast with Josh Cantwell, if you love entrepreneurship and investing in real estate then you are in the right place. Josh is the CEO of Freeland Ventures Real Estate Private Equity and has personally invested in well over 500 properties all across the country. He’s also made hundreds of private lender loans and owns over 1,000 units of apartments. Josh is an expert at raising private money for deals and he prides himself on never having had a boss in his entire adult life. Josh and his team also mentor investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. He doesn’t dream about doing deals, he actually does them and so do his listeners and students. Now sit back, listen, learn, and accelerate your business, your life, and you’re investing with The Accelerated Investor Podcast.

Hey, welcome back to Accelerated Investor. So excited to be with you right now. And we are going to talk about one of my favorite topics, which is to get organized and to, you know, have better time management to be able to manage yourself on a bigger, better way, a bigger, better scale and to get more done in less time. I hope you’ve enjoyed everything that we’ve been sharing with you on social media and an Accelerated Investor. You know, leave us a comment, ratings, reviews, we appreciate that.

And this one is, is really exciting for me. This is a strategy that I’ve been using now for over 20 years. It’s something I learned, the original framework of this from a guy named Dan Sullivan. Dan Sullivan runs an amazing organization up in Toronto called The Strategic Coach and was part of one of his training programs over almost 20 years ago when I was a financial advisor.

And is still apart of my life today. And what we want to talk about today is the idea of being able to focus on the highest and best use of your time and being able to time block in such a way that you’re able to get more done and have more focused time working on fewer projects and going deeper on those projects to make sure that you’re making lots of cash and money from those deals. And so this really starts with the concept of time blocking out your day. And what I learned from Dan Sullivan and his organization over 20 years ago was the concept of what we call the individual management system. And I learned this 20 years ago. So Dan Sullivan might call it something different today, I’m not really sure, but it was the whole concept of what he called the free days, focus days and buffer days, free days, focus days and buffer days.

And breaking out your week into free days, focus days and buffer days. Now, Strategic Coach and Dan Sullivan is an organization that caters to entrepreneurs, people who are entrepreneurial salespeople, they’re business owners, CEOs, founders that are looking to be more focused, get more done, and really look to, you know, be a bigger, better version of themselves and be more organized so that they’re not just, you know, running around like crazy with their hair on fire 24/7. So the whole concept of the time management system or individual management system focuses on free days, focus days and buffer days. I’ve been talking about this with my own mastermind groups and my own students for years and years.

So let’s talk about free days. Focus days and buffer days for a minute. Free days are truly days that are free, free days are days where you literally do nothing for work. Days where you can be free to shut off your phone, turn off your email, days where you can engage with your family and your friends, days where you can just spend time on yourself doing things you enjoy, whether it’s working out, going, you know, on your boat, going for a walk, you know, going out and partying with your friends, whatever it is, but truly free to not do or think about work at all and literally don’t touch anything work related.

And if you think about it, if as an entrepreneur, real estate entrepreneur a business owner, isn’t this really what you’re building your business for is to have more free days. The second and the easiest to talk about is what we call a focus day. A focus day is a day we do nothing but focusing, okay on revenue producing activities, focusing on really deep dive into something that’s impactful at work and focusing on that for an extended period of time. So it, you know, for me, I like to pick out two or three things that I want to focus on that day. And just do that all day long. Like today, for example, I’m doing nothing but talking to our investors, recruiting capital and recording podcasts. That’s it. That’s all I’m going to do all day long for the next, you know, however long I can do it, whether it’s 5 hours, 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, however long we work today.

I’m just going to focus on those two things. Recruiting capitol, recruiting podcasts, sharing with you, providing value to you, providing value to our passive investors. That’s it. So on a focus day, regardless of what it is that you do, you literally, it’s head down focus on two or three things that are most important to your business. No meetings, no interruptions. You know, none of the fluff, none of this, going to the bank, checking on email, driving around, burning up time. A focus day is truly a time to just focus on revenue production. And the reason why we focus on just two or three things is because things typically take two or three times as long as we think they will.

I’ll give you an example. One of the things that I do is copywriting, right? So I write emails and social media posts to our audience, to my students, to my tribe. And I’ll typically be like okay, I’m going to knock out some emails. Well, for me to write one really good social media post, or for me to write one really good email to my subscribers and my tribe, I always think that that’s going to take about 10 minutes. You know how long it actually takes me to write one email? It takes me about an hour. It takes me about an hour to write one really well thought of email or social post that flows really smooth. That tells an amazing story. Takes me about an hour, right? So if on a day where I’m going to be copywriting and communicating with our followers and our tribe and our social media friends, I need to sit down for about four hours or five hours and knock out three, four, five, six emails or three, four, five, six social media posts all at the same time.

Because I’m in the flow, I’m in my joy. I’m in the focus of writing email copy. So instead of what most people do is, hey, I’m going to write one email today, I’ll write one tonight, I’ll write one tomorrow. I’m going to bounce around back and forth and I’m going to be totally haphazard about it. What I learned years ago was to completely block out time to just focus on that. No emails, no phone calls, no meetings, no interuptions. Head down, focus on that one thing, okay? That’s a focus day where you pick two or three of those things, plow through those. Sometimes those things can be really fun because you’re passionate for it and you’re excited about it. It’s some big part of your business that’s a high revenue producing activity. Maybe it’s making offers on properties, maybe it’s walking apartments, maybe it’s recruiting private capital. Maybe it’s you know, all these different revenue producing things that you can do in your real estate operation, your real estate business, but you focus on two or three of those that day.

Everything else can wait till tomorrow. So the whole goal of a free day where you do nothing in business is to clear your mental capacity to go enjoy your personal life. The whole goal of a focus day is to give up, you know, the personal stuff to give up the interruptions and truly focus 100% on RPA’s revenue producing activities, okay? Now the third type of day is sort of the odd ball. It’s what we call a buffer day. And a buffer day, which you know, Strategic Coach defines as a day where you do all the necessary activities in your business that are not necessarily revenue producing. It’s when you get all this stuff, the muck that you have to do in business done that needs to be done. But that’s not really a focus day and it’s also not a free day, okay?

So buffer days are hugely important in order for you to be in a situation where you can have your meetings, you can go to the bank, you can go through your emails, you can reply to messages, talk to your staff, talk to you know, other people in your business. That’s maybe not revenue producing. For example, in my private equity fund, raising capital is revenue producing, making loans is revenue producing, okay? Buying properties is revenue producing. Those all happen on focus days, okay. But property management and servicing our private lender loan portfolio is non-revenue producing. It’s a necessary but non-revenue producing part of our business. So on a buffer day is when I’m going to hold my meetings for property management, for servicing. I’ll hold my meetings around loan origination. I’ll hold my meetings around property acquisition. All these different meetings are happening on a buffer day so that the other three to four days a week we can just focus on making loans.

We can just focus on buying properties. We can just focus on raising capital, which is how we make money. Buying properties, stabilizing properties, recruiting capital, making loans. Those are all ways that we produce revenue. But on a buffer day we’ve got to talk about like how is our loan portfolio performing? Do we have any defaulted loans? How is our property management portfolio going out of all the apartment deals that we own? You know, what’s the occupancy rate? What’s, you know, how much rehab is left, how much vacancy is there, where can we create efficiencies in property management? So it’s hugely important to make sure that we have those buffer days. We have those property management, those servicing meetings, but they happen on a buffer day.

So for me, I’ve got my week broken out, kind of the same way every single week. So on Mondays I hate starting my week with big long meetings. So here’s what we do on Mondays, okay. I always try to get up, if I’m in during the school year I take kids to school, go right to the gym, get a shower, get to the office, get to the office. Between 8:30 and 9:00 you guys know that. I get up in the morning, I get up before my kids, I get my coffee, I take my dogs out and I journal. I write my gratitude journal, which then when I’m done with that typically leads into, you know, what are my, what’s my priorities for the week? But on Monday we have a team meeting at 9:00 AM at the office in the bullpen area where you know, we have a bunch of different cubes and then we’ve got, you know, people that come out of their offices. Everybody kind of stands out there and we have a quick team meeting for no more than 30 minutes, okay.

I tell everybody what the priorities are for the week and then we go around the room and everybody talks about what their goals and their priorities are for the week. It’s an opportunity for us to just come out of the weekend. Everybody engaged together. I don’t want some deep, you know, deep dive meeting. I want a high level 30 minute sort of talk connection, engagement with our team. Then I have no more meetings the rest of the day until Monday afternoon. Then around 12:30 I have a marketing meeting for Freeland. And then at 1:30, I have a marketing meeting for Strategic Real Estate Coach. Then I have our podcast and audio video marketing meeting with Rami who’s here hanging out with me, recording this podcast, talking about content. And, you know what social media we can put out, what amazing content can we deliver in the form of blog posts and social posts and podcasts and YouTube videos.

And by the way, if you’re not subscribing to this podcast, if your not subscribing to our YouTube channel. You’re missing out big time. So make sure you jump in, look us up and subscribe to that stuff. But we knock all that out on Monday. Then at the end of the day, Monday, I’ve got about an hour before I wrap up my day and then I go off to coach. You know I coach my kids in all kinds of sports. Monday night is, I’ve coached in football. Then on Tuesday morning is a true buffer day. So the second half of my Monday and the first half of my Tuesday is my buffer day, okay? The first half of my Tuesday, we go right from origination, meeting to servicing meeting, to property management meeting, to finance and accounting meeting. We knock all that out on Tuesday morning by around 1:00 o’clock. I’m done with my meetings for the week.

No more meetings, no more buffer day. Now, my goal as a CEO is I’ve got to get myself in order, make sure I have my own priorities in order, but my primary objective is to let the rest of my team, the rest of my staff know that I care about them. Make sure their priorities are lockstep with the company’s priorities, making sure we know what we need to get done as far as recording property management, making offers, buying properties, buying apartment buildings, cashflowing properties, private lender loans, getting all that done. And then on the rest of the day, Tuesday, all day Wednesday and all day Thursday, my calendar is typically wide open for me to focus on focus days, which is recruiting capital, finding properties, recruiting capital, finding properties, selling stuff, recruiting capital, you know, just things that make revenue, buying properties, creating cashflow, buying apartment buildings, making private lender loans, recruiting capital. So from Tuesday around one o’clock till the end of my day on Thursday for the next basically two and a half days, that’s all I do.

Then on Friday is not really necessarily a buffer day, but typically every other Friday I record podcasts and I have my meetings with investors. So it becomes a focus day focused on raising capital and podcasting. Then the opposite Friday, so we do every other Friday. The opposite Friday is more of a buffer day where I go out in the field and I want to go see some of our apartment buildings. I want to go see our rehabs. I want to go see some of our rental properties and make sure that those properties are stabilized. I like to see the inventory. I like to get my hands on it and see what kind of work we’re doing, what our boots on the ground, what our operations team, what our property management team is doing in the field. I don’t want to lose touch of that. So every other week I go in the field for our, basically a site tour every other Friday and then the opposite Friday podcast and raise money, okay.

So my buffer day is the second half of the day Monday, the first half of Tuesday. Now I’ve got lots of free days as well. I typically work about nine months out of the year depending on the season of life that I’m in. If I’m starting a new business, I definitely work more if my businesses are very mature and they’re operating at a high level, I typically can take more time off. But in most years, I’m able to take at least a month or two off. When you add up all the different days I take off and time I take away from my family for a couple of weeks. In the summer time, we take off around Thanksgiving, spring break, Christmas and just other days off it’s about, you know, 9, 10 months. I work 2 or 3 months I take off.

Now that doesn’t count the fact that when I’m really engaged in work, I’m totally engaged. Meaning I’m working at night, sometimes I’m working in the middle of the night, sometimes I’m working 12 and 14 hour days. Not because I have to, but because I love it. It’s, and so, you know, I just put in the time that I need to put in. But this allows me to have free days where of course on Saturdays and Sundays I’m coaching my kids. We’re going to church, a lot of family time. I’m a family man. We got a lot of dinners with my parents on Sunday afternoons, lots of dinners at my wife’s, her family is traditional Italian, so they’ve always got food on the table on Sunday afternoon. There’s always bread and wine there, which is cool. And so those are true free days. But when I take a day off, if I take a day off during the week, I truly try to completely take that day off.

Instead of what most people do is I’m going to take the day off, but I got a call coming in I got to take, I’ve got an email coming in and I’ve got to respond to, oh honey, you know, we can go to lunch, but I’ve got to jump into a meeting at 2:00 o’clock so you’re mixing. What most people do is they’re frenetically mixing free days with focus days. Don’t do that. If you take the day off, take a full free day. Get out of your business, get outside your business and above your business. Get away from it and allow yourself to be truly free. The reason why that’s important is because on a free day, guess what happens? This is when you have the absolute best ideas. This is when your mind is free. You’re not in your work. You’re not in the muck, you’re not in the business.

You’re not challenged by some fire that just came up that you’ve got to put out on a free day is when you typically are going to have your best ideas, okay? So you’ve got to get outside of your business and sometimes just journal, write, you know, think spend time alone, read, go for walks, go to the gym, take your wife or your husband to lunch, go show up at your kid’s school and volunteer, right? And I promise you, not only will you be so happy about that free day and what you’re able to do on a personal level, but you will get your best business ideas on your free days. And if you’ve come so valuable to those of you that are entrepreneurs, those of you that are founders, those of you that are CEOs trying to build your business that free day without it. Sure you may, you know, you may be super successful, but without it, you’re not going to be actually able to enjoy the time, the fruits of your labor.

And I want to wrap up this episode with this story. You know, this past Tuesday was my wife’s birthday, so we took her out to a restaurant, a Hibachi place right in town that my kids love. My wife loves it. You know, the guys in front of the, you know, you’re at the Hibachi table and he’s making the food and his forks in his knives are flying in the air and they’re squirting. What’s the drink Rami, the Japanese stuff that Saki, right. The Saki that their, you know, you squirting that you’re having a drink and this and that. And we looked over to the other table and there was another family there and it was a family that we used to live near. And we were able to say hello to them. I don’t really see them that often. But I saw them. They were there. It was great to see them hanging out.

And you know, when I look at that, when I looked at their businesses, their life, you know, they have an amazing life. They have a massive house. I think they have two or three massive houses. They own several successful businesses. And I also saw a lot of pain. You know, they have one of their kids who was held back in school twice. Their daughter young got pregnant when she was 17, 18 years old. Another son trying to figure things out. And I’m sure there’s a lot of love in the family. I’m sure they really enjoy being around each other and they’re having tons of fun. And I also saw a lot of challenges and without judging them, without, you know, you killing them on this podcast, I don’t want to do that because they’re friends of ours.

I also saw a lot of what I saw, and again, I don’t want to judge them here, so I’m trying to be very delicate. But what I could see from a distance was young kids that seem to be a little bit misguided because their parents were never home. Young kids that seem to be maybe not on the same path that they could be if their parents were a little bit more engaged, if their parents had taken a few more free days. I saw an extremely, what would appear to be wealthy family. And I hope that they’re happy. It just didn’t seem like that for me when I saw them and what I noticed seemed a little bit out of the ordinary. And I hope they have a lot of success. I hope they have a lot of happiness.

And for me, you being a cancer survivor, I’m just not going to slave and slave and slave and slave and slave and work and work and work and work, work to hopefully be retired one day to hopefully be able to enjoy time with my family. I’m just not going to do that. I’m going to take the time now to schedule in the free days to schedule in the time to engage with Lisa and my kids and my parents and spend time with them now because there’s always going to be time for work. So my challenge to you today is if you truly are taking free days, take a full free day. Don’t mix your free day with your focus. They don’t mix work with fun, don’t mix your, your, your, your business selling whatever you’re doing, recruiting capital, buying properties, whatever that is. Don’t mix that in with your free days, okay.

If you’re at the pool with your kids, have fun with your kids. Don’t be on the phone. If you’re out with your kids at the movie, don’t be on your social media account promoting yourself in your social media while you’re hanging out with your kids. Trust me your kids will notice whether you’re engaged or not. And the way that you can successfully do that and manage that is by managing your individual time and blocking it out and using some of the strategies that I learned 20 years ago from Strategic Coach. So I hope you enjoyed this. Hope you enjoyed this little talk around, you know, getting everything done, being a bigger, better version of yourself, managing your time and you know, really focusing in on what you’re really good at and making sure that you focus on that for an extended period of time.

You’ve been listening to Josh Cantwell and the Accelerated Investor Podcast. Leave a comment on our iTunes channel and let us know what you want to learn next, or who you’d like Josh to interview. While you’re there, give us some five star rating and make sure to subscribe so you can be the first to hear new episodes. Follow Josh Cantwell and his companies, the Strategic Real Estate Coach and Freeland Ventures on all social media platforms now and stay up to date on new training and investment opportunities to start your journey toward the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. Apply for coaching at JoshCantwellCoaching.com.

No matter how intentional we are about structuring our days, it seems like effective time management is a struggle for most of us. 

And that’s human nature… we want to accomplish as much as possible in as little time as possible. But often, switching sporadically from task to task is actually harming our bottom line. 

When I was a financial advisor about 20 years ago (I know, I’m dating myself), I learned an interesting time management technique from Dan Sullivan, co-founder of Strategic Coach, which offers coaching services for business owners and entrepreneurs. 

This strategy involves identifying 3 types of days – free days, focus days, and buffer days – which I’ll explain, in depth, in the podcast. 

So, if you haven’t yet found an effective way to structure your days – or, maybe you have, but you’re open to improvement – this method could be the right solution for you. I’ve been using it for 20 years and have yet to find a better technique. 

Most importantly, when you improve your time management, you improve your business and your profits… which means you’ll be one step closer to the financial freedom you’re seeking. 

What’s Inside:

  • Josh’s tried-and-true time management technique that he’s used for 20+ years
  • How to effectively structure 3 types of days: free days, focus days, and buffer days
  • How to narrow your efforts to focus on revenue-generating tasks
  • Josh’s morning routine to set his day up for success
  • How Josh gets stuff done but still takes 1-3 months off every year
  • Why taking free days is vital to your wellbeing and success

Mentioned in this episode​