Many years ago when I was starting my first business, I made a decision that unlocked much of the success that came after: I hired a cleaner. No, not a personal assistant, or a head of sales, or a lead negotiator – a cleaner.
You see, every Saturday, my partner and I would spend hours and hours cleaning our house. And those were hours and hours I could not spend building my business, working on my fitness, seeing friends and loved ones, or simply recharging. As a bootstrapping founder, I was throwing every hour of the day to my business’s growth – and weekends were being wasted with a dustpan.
So we hired cleaners. And reclaimed our precious time. And symbolically, that made all the difference in the world because now I wasn’t just telling myself that I was a boss, I was behaving like one: I was spending money to make time, instead of spending time to make money.
And this is a mindset shift that too many of us delay making. We hold on to being Chief Everything Officer in our work lives and home lives, and then we struggle with burnout and frustration and resentment. We strangle ourselves with The Perfectionist’s Creed. And we tell ourselves we can – or should be able to – do everything (even the laundry!) when that’s simply not true.
Time is the one thing that everyone says they never have enough of, but we can all create time by letting go of the low-value tasks (business admin, house chores, email, etc) that clutter our lives, instead of clinging to them out of habit, or out of a sense that we’re not worthy of the investment or because we’ve internalized the social pressures that expect women to be Martha Stewart, Mother Theresa, and Madeleine Albright all at the same time (enforced martyrdom is a plague, ladies, but we don’t have to succumb).
Whatever your dreams, your ambitions, your vision for your life, you can’t get there by doing it all and under-valuing your time. To be a boss, you need to boss your time.
It might start with something small, sure – for me, hiring cleaners was the first step, not the last! – but the mindset shift around valuing our time and buying it back can help us get to the top of wherever we choose to go. And that is anything but small.