Ah, time! It’s our greatest gift and it is also the one great leveller. Time doesn’t differentiate.
People like Richard Branson and Elon Musk still only gets 24 hours in a day.
We can all spend money and then go out and earn some more money to replace the money spent (to a greater, or lesser degree), but we cannot spend time and expect to replace it in the same way.
Time is a finite resource.
On average, UK life expectancy currently sits at just over 81 years according to the Office for National Statistics.
This means that if you are in your 40’s, you’re likely to be over half way through this mortal coil.
And yet, so often, we take it for granted and drift through life as though there will always be a tomorrow.
How Do You Spend Your Time?
‘I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:
“If today were the last day of my life,
would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
When the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row
I know I need to change something.’
I make no apology for being the harbinger of doom because I believe that we all need to ask ourselves the question:
Is what I am doing right now the best use of my time?
We also need to do this repeatedly throughout each day.
This way we can start to recognise when we are mindlessly scrolling through facebook or wasting time on some other inane activity and then go and do something about it.
Okay. So now you’re saying to yourself ‘this is all well and good, but how does it help me to increase my hourly rate as a freelance courier?’
At this point, please bear in mind that we can increase our hourly rate in one of two ways:
- We can increase our income.
- We can get paid the same, but reduce the time it takes to earn that amount.
I will explain shortly by means of an example, using the story of two couriers: Bill and Ben, how we can capitalise on the second point to score an instant increase in our hourly rate.
Before we get to Bill and Ben, it would serve us well to get our heads around Pareto’s Principle and how this might be applied to time management.
Vilfredo Pareto (1848 ~ 1923) was an Italian engineer, sociologist, economist and philosopher.
He was the first person to discover that income distribution invariably follows a predictable pattern whereby 20% of the population have 80% of the wealth and vice-versa.
He also observed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of its population.
Thus, the Pareto Principle was named after him.
However, he also started to notice that this same 80/20 percentage pattern appeared in many different walks of life.
For example, he noted that 20% of the pea-pod plants in his garden produced 80% of the peas.
In this day and age, any business leader will tell you that 20% of their employees contribute towards 80% of the company’s revenue.
Pareto’s Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, if you prefer is a probability principle, so it is not always exactly 80/20, but this is a great guide and often scarily accurate.
For our purposes, we can apply the Pareto Principle to time. More specifically time management!
We have all heard the phrase ‘a failure to plan is a plan to fail’.
Let us now see how this can be applied to a day in the life of a freelance courier.
Or, more precisely, two freelance couriers, one name Bill and the other named Ben.
A Tale of Two Couriers.
Once upon a time…….
….. Actually, it wasn’t ‘once upon a time’ as I’ve witnessed similar examples to the one I am about to give on numerous occasions.
Hopefully, the story of Bill and Ben will demonstrate the benefits of not taking time for granted.
They were both freelance couriers who had found themselves working for the same company, delivering stationery to businesses and private residences in two adjacent towns.
Bill covered town ‘A’ and Ben covered town ‘B’.
Both towns had a similar profile and the two multi-drop routes were essentially the same, with a similar number of parcels and deliveries to be made each day.
It has been determined by the company that both routes should take about six hours to complete, including loading of the van.
Furthermore, drivers are encouraged to take an additional hour in the morning to plan their route and they can also take up to an hour for lunch at a time that suits the driver.
Bill and Ben both arrive at the same time in the morning and begin the process of loading their respective vans:
- Bill has partially loaded his van and now starts his planning.
- He spends 80% of the allotted time (48 minutes) dedicated to this process.
- He checks the addresses on his manifest against his road atlas to establish the most efficient order to complete the route. He even programs the first few stops into his sat-nav.
- He also spends some of this time finishing loading and re-jigging the parcels in his van so that they better reflect the planned order of route completion.
- He leaves the depot at 7:48am and arrives at his first customer at approximately 8:40am.
- It’s raining this morning, so he is glad that he can get to the relevant parcels quickly and easily.
- His initial customer is already open for business and is awaiting Bill’s delivery, which they sign for right away.
- Subsequently, Bill’s day turns out to be pretty-much as he expected.
- At around 12:15pm he stops for a bite to eat and reads for a while.
- He is back on the road by 1:15pm and the afternoon progresses as smoothly as the morning.
- He eventually gets home at 3:45pm having taken roughly the time expected to complete the route and take an hour for his lunch.
- He and his partner decide to go and collect the kids from school together and as it’s stopped raining, they all go for a walk in the park.
- Bill has actually worked for 7 hours and 45 minutes (excluding his commute to and from the depot).
- Ben decides to only use 20% of his ‘planning hour’ to actually plan (12minutes) essentially, he makes a decision on where to start his route and then decides it would be better to ‘hit the road and just get going’.
- He leaves the depot at 7:12am and arrives at his first stop just before 8:00am, over 40 minutes earlier than Bill, just as the customer is about to open.
- Great! He’s off to a good start.
- He twiddles his thumbs for five minutes waiting for the customer to unlock the doors and open-up, but as soon as they do Ben is in there with their order and waiting for a signature.
- He has to wait a while as the customer has disappeared off into the back of their warehouse to check the fire exits as part of their morning routine and, unfortunately, it all starts to unravel from here on for poor old Ben.
- Due his poor planning, as the day progresses, he finds himself having to double-back on himself often and notices that he is passing places that he has already delivered to.
- He also struggles to find the relevant parcels in the back of his van because he has not loaded it in any particular order because he didn’t have a plan of how he was going to progress through his route.
- In fact, for the first few deliveries, he virtually has to unload his entire van and re-load it just to find parcels belonging for these particular customers.
- Later in the day, he receives complaints from customers because he is later than they expected and the stock he is delivering to them has got wet in the rain from when he had to keep unloading his van.
- These complaints slow him down even further.
- Eventually, tired and beleaguered, Ben returns home at 7:00pm nearly 12 hours after leaving the depot that morning and without having taken a break throughout the whole day.
- He is in a foul mood and snaps at the kids as they try to demand some of his ‘precious’ time and attention!
- His route has ended up taking him 80% longer to complete than the time expected and he has probably also covered 80% more miles than Bill.
- Ben has worked a ‘solid’ 12 hour shift!
Let’s assume that Bill and Ben both get paid a fixed rate of £150 per day.
Based on the hours put in by each of them in our example, we can quickly establish the following:
Bill’s hourly rate = £19.35 (150 / 7.75).
Ben’s hourly rate = £12.50 (150 / 12).
Therefore, Bills is effectively earning in excess of 35% more than Ben.
In other words Bill has instantaneously increased his hourly rate by 35%
I hope that I have made it crystal clear that we only have a finite amount of time and that we must endeavour to spend our time wisely.
If you love your job, a twelve-plus hour working day may be your idea of heaven, but for many, work is a means to and end.
Work provides us with an income so that we can spend our time when we’re not at work doing the things that we enjoy, with the people we love.
It is up to you how you balance the scale.
However, one of the biggest advantages of being a freelance courier is that you get paid to get the job done, rather than for how many hours you have been at work.
In my humble opinion, it just makes sense to get the job done as quickly as possible, so that you can invest more of your time in the areas you choose.
By working smartly and efficiently, you get the added bonus of boosting your hourly rate in the process.