The 5 Task Rule For Entrepreneurs + Small Business Owners
“No amount of money ever bought a second of time” – Tony Stark.
That’s a statement so incredibly true for entrepreneurs. Deciding WHAT you do in a day is the single-most important thing for you to figure out.
Always a fan of productivity and lifehacks, Ross has been using the “5 Task Rule” for a couple weeks and reports back on how it’s going.
Ross Hero: What’s going to happen next is definitely Podcast 101. I’m going to essentially promote a whole nother podcast, right?
Chris: Yeah. Yeah.
Ross Hero: Hey, don’t like this? Go over here. But, listen. Am I going to say we’re the absolute best? Yes, we are. So that’s why we’re okay with you going to another show. And that show is called The Playbook and it’s hosted by David Meltzer and I believe it is part of Entrepreneur.com. He does this podcast for them. And this came across one of my many feeds. One day, we should also a tour of digital tools. So I saved to my Pocket, which I absolutely love, saved it, came back to it and it’s a long video. I mean, I think it’s the whole podcast. It’s about 25 minutes.
Ross Hero: And I watched all of it but the highlight of this is… And it’s David Meltzer sitting down with a guy named Andy Frisella, who is also a host of another podcast called MFCEO, which is another actually really good podcast. And they’re sitting down, they’re talking. And one of the things that they get to talking about is time. And so, what that evolves into is Andy talks about his five-task rule. And we went ahead and pulled out the audio from that show and we want to share it with you right here and then we’re going to talk about it. So, here we go. Give this a listen.
Begin Audio Excerpt
David Meltzer: I think that every great entrepreneur has a philosophy about time. They understand that 24 hours of man-made constructive time is different than infinity of time or something along those lines. Do you have a certain philosophy about productivity and accessibility during time?
Andy Frisella: Absolutely. Okay, so I have this system that I call the Power List. All right? This is just how it works for me. And I’ve always done this. Like this is something I’ve done since… I can’t even remember when I started.
David Meltzer: Since the Cool Age.
Andy Frisella: Yeah, exactly. Since I got into real business. Because I was in business for a few years before I decided to get serious about it if that makes sense.
David Meltzer: Yeah, of course.
Andy Frisella: I was like everybody else. I’m like, “Oh, I’m a business owner. I’m running a business.” I had a little business card and I had a little fucking office. I like to whip out my card and give it to people. That’s playing business, right?
David Meltzer: Right.
Andy Frisella: I played business for a long time. When I got serious about business, I got serious about my time. And the way I have learned to manage my time is not in a matter of time. Because right now we have hustle, fucking never sleep. But that’s bullshit. That’s total bullshit. Okay? Here’s how I do it. I pick five tasks. In an episode of my podcast, it’s episode 107. It’s called Win The Day. The podcast is called the MFCEO Project. It’s the number one business podcast in the world. It has been for a long time. Very proud of that podcast especially because it’s real raw, dude. And people still resonate with it. So it makes me feel good like people still are into that.
David Meltzer: Old school.
Andy Frisella: But basically the way it works is this. I pick five tasks, okay? Just five. Not six, not seven, not 10. And they’re five critical tasks that I have to get done for my day to count as a win. All right? And now, those five tasks are not all business-related, by the way. So the way it works is basically like let’s just run through a day. Let’s just say I’m not in any good habits right now, which I am in good habits, but let’s just say I’m regular Joe. And I just am trying to get my shit together.
Andy Frisella: One of my things is going to be, for me personally, would be to eat a certain kind of diet, whatever the diet is of my day. Right?
David Meltzer: Yep.
Andy Frisella: The second one will be to work out, whatever my workout is.
Andy Frisella: The third one would be to email you to set up a podcast. Nothing huge. Not just…
David Meltzer: I say lower the bar.
Andy Frisella: Yeah, people will fuck this up because they think point number three is design the logos or design the branding package for this, this, this. That’s too big. I need it to be small. I need to come up with a logo for the front of this magazine that we’re working on that needs to be published today. All right?
Andy Frisella: And then the last two, one would be something personal, like practice my guitar for 30 minutes. And then maybe it would be send another… The other one may be call [M.I. Leight 00:04:52] and talk to him about this, right? But specific. Specific shit.
David Meltzer: Yeah. That you can get done.
Andy Frisella: That’s right. And it’s only five. And the reason people… because this is how people fuck this up. They’re like, “Dude, it needs to be… I can get 20 done.” You can get 20 done. But you can’t get 20 done for 20 years straight. And that’s where the power of this comes in. So it’s a compounding thing. So dude, if my five things get done before 10:00 AM, guess what I do the rest of the day? I fuck off.
David Meltzer: Nice.
Andy Frisella: That’s the truth.
David Meltzer: Wow.
Andy Frisella: Yeah.
David Meltzer: So you don’t even do six or seven, yeah.
Andy Frisella: Fuck no.
David Meltzer: That’s awesome.
Andy Frisella: Yeah, I do whatever I want. I go to my pool. I go take my cars out. I walk through the office and hang out with the team. I goof off. I live my life. And what it allows me to do is to progress at a consistent level while still being able to live a normal life.
Andy Frisella: And so people are like, “Dude, how do you work all this?” I don’t feel like I work. I have a great team. I pay them very well. I enjoy seeing them progress. I enjoy what we do. Because in my business, our main business is in the health and fitness sector. We’re vertically integrated, everything that you can do. So, everything we do is to help people change their lives in a positive way. So that’s fun. What do I have to do that’s not fun? I get to go speak to people, thousands of people that are appreciative.
David Meltzer: Chanting your name.
Andy Frisella: Yeah, dude, it’s so cool. But I mean, that little five-step system called The Power List. And at the end of the day, I write a W up on the top or an L. Then I can flip through. And a lot of people were like, “Why don’t you do this on the phone?” Because I keep a journal. And I can actually flip through it and see physically how much I’m winning. Like I can see like-
David Meltzer: How many L’s do you get in one year?
Andy Frisella: Oh, not many. Not anymore. Yeah. I mean, now it’s almost automatic. But in the beginning-
David Meltzer: First seeing your unconscious-
Andy Frisella: Yeah, in the beginning, you might get four W’s and three L’s every week.
David Meltzer: It’s important for people to hear that.
Andy Frisella: For sure.
David Meltzer: I tell people all the time, I give them tasks. I go, “Send me a thumbs up if you do the task for 14 straight days.” Simple ones like say thank you before you go to bed.
Andy Frisella: That’s it.
David Meltzer: Because I believe gratitude’s important.
Andy Frisella: Absolutely.
David Meltzer: I said, “It’s not because saying thank you is hard. It’s because I want to train your mind to be able to do something every day.”
Andy Frisella: Correct.
David Meltzer: Because that is the habit machine that you need in order to effectuate habits.
Andy Frisella: And that’s what the cool thing about this program is, that I developed is, it is free. I don’t charge for anything, yet. I sound like I’m pitching it but I’m only pitching it because I believe in it.
David Meltzer: It works, yeah.
Andy Frisella: So, the key to this program working is if you’ve got a W for 21… All right, so let’s say the diet part. It’s hard for people, hard for me. If you do it 21 days in a row, you automatically have to remove it off your list. Because it’s become a habit. Now you replace it with something else that you want to improve.
David Meltzer: I like that.
Andy Frisella: So there’s a system that it’s basically to help you create momentum and then also create the habits as you go. Now, if you get, let’s say, you take it off of your list, right? And let’s say you get three or four days where you can recognize you’re coming off of that habit. Guess what?
David Meltzer: Go back.
Andy Frisella: Go back on the list.
David Meltzer: Of course.
Andy Frisella: And that’s how I do it.
End Audio Excerpt
Ross Hero: Okay. So what I should tell you actually is after listening to that, I started doing it. And I am a copious… Well. I was going to say, “I’m a taskmaster.” I mean, I have… Every week, I use a tool called Asana. I line up all my to-dos. Typically on a Sunday night or a Monday morning, I line up my week for what I’m going to do on each day. Obviously, things come up throughout the week. But I love the idea of the five tasks a day. Now, Chris, you gave this a listen, what was your read? Because you’re coming out of this, I think, from a different perspective and I want to talk a little bit about that. Because while we do some work together, you work a full-time gig. You work at a full-time job in part of a company. I own a company. I’m the top of a company. So, what was your initial thought on this five-task rule thing?
Chris: My initial thought was this guy has five tasks and one of the tasks is eat. And so I thought, “Okay, so you have a four-task list.” Because what are you going to do? Not eat if you don’t put it on your list?
Ross Hero: I’d have to think his example was somewhat flawed there. But I also did tell you, and I wish you hadn’t brought it up, this guy is huge. One of his companies, I think, is sports medicine. This guy, he could squash us both. And now you’ve done it. Now you’ve created a… You’ve dissed him and I just want to go on the record that that was Chris Slezak, not Ross Herosian who has a beef about eating as one of the… Now, I agree with you in his example of eat as one of the things. He was like-
Chris: The list says eat, work out, do three other things. And then do nothing. And I’m like, “That is not work.” I mean-
Ross Hero: It’s not a bad list, to be fair.
Chris: That’s a sweet list if that’s all you do all day. Where exactly does the work come in?
Ross Hero: Number one, wake up. Number two, brew coffee. Oh man, I’m almost done with my day.
Chris: Right. You’re crushing it so far.
Ross Hero: I will say, I do think that that… The whole clip, he talks about if you do something, I believe it was like 21 days in a row, then it’s now become a habit and it removes itself from the list. So, to the example of if I wanted to eat no carbs, perhaps, maybe that could be one of my list things. I would, as much as I’ve tried, I’d never make it 21 days, but after that, it develops into a habit and can come off the list.
Ross Hero: But I do and have found in the past, because I’ve been doing this for about two or three weeks, we’ll circle back in a month, two months, three months, whatever. But I was kind of running ragged for a little while there because my lists tend to continue to get added to and I think that’s the case with many people who are business owners. Your list just is endless. And I think what you need to do is to recognize that the most important thing that you have is your energy and your time. And I think that by his five-task rule, while maybe imperfect if you’re including wake up or eat or brew coffee on that list, I think it starts to set some positive foundation for protecting your time. That’s where I think I’ve had the most success with this because I’ve really tried to live very much by it, by not adding things to the list, by getting the five things done by punting things that aren’t important. I would also say when it comes to the task list, if you push something off three times, that thing should probably just come off your list. Because it’s clearly not important.
Chris: So are you sticking to this where you do your five and then you’re like, “Great, I’ve done five things, I’m done”?
Ross Hero: Well, let me put it this way. I do my five things. Typically those five things are client-facing, right? So I do my five things. I don’t go so far as… I know he had said he’s done and that he walks around. I think there’s a lot of value to doing a walk around as a company CEO. I obviously don’t have that and most of my staff is remote. What instead it is is I just make sure I do these five things and then my time is free for me, I would say, to pick and choose what things.
Chris: Sure. But then if you don’t get to it, no big deal.
Ross Hero: Exactly. Because the challenge is when you are starting your own business, there are things that you need to do for your clients. There are things that you need to do for you. And then there are things that you need to do for the company. So I think what this helps to do is at least set up… Okay, let’s just say you do one or two from each of those columns, but then okay, client emergency comes up. Okay, yeah. You can get to that. But very rarely are there truly, in my experience at least and in my field and maybe luckily, knock on wood, with my clients, do I have emergencies.
Ross Hero: I think a good example of this would be like today where I accomplished my five things by probably around noon actually. And I’ve been long overdue to make a video for Tricycle Creative. So I went out, shot a video, came back, edited the video, had to do some learning on some of the editing stuff that I was doing so I watched a couple of videos. It was enrichment time. That sounds like a superhero call. It’s enrichment time. It’s like really boring. It’s like library man.
Ross Hero: But I think what it’ll… And I think it also lets you feel like you have accomplished. There’s a finite things. And you can end the day saying, “I got everything done on my list.” Because if you don’t set these boundaries, it will consume you. And I can tell you it’s been consuming me for awhile. That list never ends. And you know what happens if you don’t do something like this? If you don’t set a, “I’m going to do this number a day.” You get through it. And then you look at tomorrow and you start to try and work through tomorrow to get ahead. Then you know what? You never get ahead. You never get ahead. You have to set these boundaries.
Ross Hero: So, I like this a lot. It’s not perfect. I’m not going to sit here and necessarily say that if a client emergency came up and I completed my five things, I’m like, “Well. Sorry, friend. I’ve done my five things for the day.” But I do think it starts to set a healthy limitation. Now the flip side of this is, and this is why I said I was interested in your perspective, Chris, because I work… I’m the top of the mountain, top of the heap if you will. And I think that’s where when you’re leading a company and particularly when you’re the owner of a company or the CEO, you need that time, that again, the enrichment time to spend with your employees, to spend with your products and services. This free time where you have the capacity and the brainpower to think properly. Now, I think this would be almost impossible for anyone in the office to execute in an office desk.
Chris: Yeah, I was going to say, I mean, when I read this or listened to it, I don’t think I once even considered applying it to my job. I thought about it for my own life, enriching my own personal life. But yeah, I at no point thought, “Oh yeah, I’m going to put five things on my list and tell my boss, sorry.”
Ross Hero: Hey boss, screw you friend.
Chris: “No, I did five. I’m done.”
Ross Hero: No. And I think… I totally agree with you. These are the types of things that I would read when I was working in a system. And none of this is saying this is good or this is bad. These are just different. They’re inherently different. You’re working in a more stable environment. People are coming at you, a boss, coworker, a client, you have it coming at you from all different directions.
Chris: Right. I mean, I don’t have to make a list. I don’t need a list. The list is made for me.
Ross Hero: Correct. Correct.
Chris: It has its advantages. I don’t necessarily mean that as a complaint. Like, “Oh, it must be nice that you can make a list.” Like I don’t think about it. It’s there. I know what I have to do.
Ross Hero: I think there also, I will say the warning sign here. I would say people who are romanticizing starting a business, they would see a video like this and be like, “Ah cool, I’m going to start my business and do five things a day and then go to the gym.” I’m not going to sit here and pretend like it’s all daisies and rainbows because I only have five things. There’s a lot of other things that happen throughout the day. But this is just about nailing down and saying I’m going to get five concrete things accomplished today. And then the rest of the day there’s flexibility of what projects I’m going to tackle.
Ross Hero: Because when you are the CEO of a company, particularly an owner of a small business, you’re responsible for everything. Everything. So, all the content we make for Tricycle Creative, I got to do that. If we’re going to retool our pricing, I’m going to do that. If I have to work on contractor agreements or client complaints or proposal calls or going out and doing sales, those are all things that I still have to do.
Chris: Sure. And even the things that you don’t have to do, you have to make sure that the person that is supposed to do them is doing it.
Ross Hero: And I think this also helps to at least corral all those things together and at least say, “Okay, at least once during the week I’m going to focus on sales by making this task.” So it becomes… This is also why… and this is a, I mentioned this before on the podcast, but this goes back to almost the bible of productivity, one of them, the Getting Things Done book. And it comes down to having everything in a system. Because by having it in a system you release and remove some of the stress of not knowing what to do next. That’s a big part of stress around work is that you don’t know what to do next. So do I need to do this, this, this? If you have a list, if you have a system, that goes away. You still have the stress from doing the jobs but at least you know where you can direct it.
Ross Hero: So yeah, I just thought this was very interesting, wanted to share it with you. Again, want to promote David Meltzer’s… it is, hold on a second here, let me see the name of it, The Playbook. And again, it’s a part of Entrepreneur.com which is another great website. And Andy Frisella and he does MFCEO, I’ll let you fill in the blank of what the MF is, also a podcast. Interesting. He’s a very intense guy who I’m, as I mentioned, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be coming for Chris after. I so, so-
Chris: Yeah. I will lay down and show him my belly.
Ross Hero: He may respond well to that. He is huge. He’s like a bear. He’s going to attack you. And I will just say… I’ll stand there and what I’ll do is, when he’s done, I will say, “Was mauling my cohost of my show, one of the five tasks that you needed to do today? Because if so, you did it. You did a great job on it. Fantastic work.”
Chris: I’m going to do the double flip. Getting mauled was on my list.
Ross Hero: Oh. So then it’s a double win.
TRIPOD is a Marketing podcast produced by Tricycle Creative that aims to help business owners and entrepreneurs be better Marketers. Each episode features news, tips, interviews, and commentary from the worlds of Marketing, Media, and Miscellaneous.