Imagine if someone were to spend a week spying on you…

No, not in a creepy way.  Rather, they were spying on you to observe your work habits.  To really track what you do on a daily basis.

And then, at the end of the week, that person who spied on you has to guess how successful you are — based on whatever metric you choose.

What would they say?

“Yeah, I could’ve guessed they weren’t having much success.  All they do all day is…”

Or perhaps…

“It’s no wonder they’re so successful, because…”

Be honest with yourself here.

Know that this spy would be honest with you.

Here’s the sad truth…

Yes, we all come to the table with different opportunities available to us.  We all have different backgrounds and upbringings.  We all have our unique talents, strengths, faults, and disabilities.  Some of us face horrible, unjust obstacles that automatically put us at a disadvantage.  We all have different resources, and different privileges.

I know this.  I don’t mean to discount any of it — or the impact it’s had on our lives.

But this is true: somewhere out there, there’s someone who was dealt a far worse hand in life than you were, and are currently beating you to smithereens in terms of the success they’ve created for themselves.

The difference?

In a word, hustle.

The relentless drive to climb and climb…  To do bigger, better things…  To achieve whatever success we desire in life.

It’s what they’re doing today — and what they do every day — to create their destiny, instead of waiting around for it to come to them.

And yes, you have to work smart.  You can work hard and hustle your entire life and have it amount to nothing, if you work on the wrong things.

But put two people on the same task with the same resources, and whichever one is willing to outwork the other will win.  Nearly every single time.

There are countless examples in life.

From sports, to business, to public service, and more.

Work harder, achieve more.  All else being equal or unequal.

Yes, everyone starts from a different place.  But no matter the starting line, your hard work will decide where you finish.

Which brings me back to our spy…

What did YOU do today?

I wrote earlier this week about how I’m trying to do a minimum of a new paid advertising test every week — but really, at least this week, I’m trying to do a new test every day.

That’s working hard, AND working smart.

Today’s test?  Taking the same ads I’ve been testing, and adjusting the targeting.

So far, based on a ridiculously-small audience, it’s cut my lead cost by almost 99%.

No, that’s not a miscalculation.  For every dollar I was paying per lead on the previous tests, I’m paying a penny per lead today.  Again, small audience, early data, all the disclaimers apply.  I’m not ready to throw an unlimited budget at the test based on this data alone.  But that’s what the earliest results are telling me.

…  Sidebar: this is a great reminder of the 40/40/20 rule: 40% of your direct marketing success is based on your AUDIENCE (offline, that’s the list, online, that’s targeting), 40% is based on OFFER, and 20% is based on CREATIVE.  Same creative, new audience?  Already 3X the leads, at roughly 1/100th the cost.

I wouldn’t have found that if I wasn’t willing to run a new test every day, and learn from every failure.  I wouldn’t have found that if I wasn’t willing to do the work.

But heck, that’s just what I did in my first little time block when I started working this morning…

Most weeks, I work about 35 hours per week.  Today, I’m working from about 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, because I’m doing both drop off and pick up for school.  That’s 5 1/2 hours work time today.

And here’s what I’ve blocked out time to do, most of which is already complete by the time I’m writing this email…

First, I launched the new ad test.

Then, I finished edits on a new lead for a client project, outlined the sales narrative for the rest of the promotion, and sent it to them for their initial impression.

Then, I made some small edits to the intro and wrote calls-to-action for my next book, called The Ultimate Selling Story, launching very soon.

Now, I’m writing a 1,000+-word essay on productivity for Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

And I had to shift around my schedule, but I still plan to fit in some work on my next training for BTMSinsiders, called High-Velocity Copywriting: Speed secrets and shortcuts to write better copy, faster.  (It’s on the Coming Soon page, due out next week.)

This is in addition to various communications going out introducing two valued connections to each other, responding to reader emails, communicating with my coach, and planning and tracking all this activity to gather long-term data on both my work habits and their results.

And again, that’s all in 5 1/2 hours.

Most high performers I know have schedules like this…

I’ve spent a lot of my life as a slacker.  I know it feels good to slack.  It feels good not to block time on your schedule and obligate yourself to activities throughout your entire work day.  It feels good to wait for the muse for whatever work you want to accomplish.

It feels good to NOT do what I’m doing today!

And yet, the better you get at exactly what I’m doing, planning out (almost scripting) your work day, the more freedom you’ll actually get!

Of course, financial freedom is part of it.  Money earned ethically is a byproduct of value creation, and value creation comes about as a result of work.  If you build something scalable, a lot of that work is front-loaded.  But it’s work nonetheless.  And the more work you do to create value for others, the more money you’ll earn.  Which will translate into less need to do work tomorrow, either because you’re paying others to do the work, or because you’ve reached a point where you have no financial need to work and so you stop.

Freedom from work can come from hard work, too.  Building a scalable business usually requires you to do a lot of things up front that don’t scale.  As the founder of any business, you often have to do most of the work up front, until you develop momentum to build a team.  You work on a scalable business now in order to make it work without you later.

And remember, I do all this to get 18 1/2 other free hours in my day!  By maximizing my effectiveness during a 5 1/2-hour work block, I free myself up to spend more time with my kids, to get a good night’s sleep, and in general to do what I want for the majority of my hours.  Yes, other days during the week, I’ll work longer hours.  There are some days when I work 9-hour days plus an hour or two before the kids get up.  But if a 7-day week has 168 hours in it and I work maybe 35 hours of that, that means I have 79% of my hours during the week free to do other things!

(And despite what the average workaholic will tell you, recent studies have found that you reach peak productivity at around 35-40 hours per week — working more decreases your efficiency enough to offset the additional hours.  Working hard for less hours gives you more free time with similar results!)

Back to YOU and your spy…

If you want your spy to report, “It’s no wonder they’re so successful, because…” it’s time to start adopting some of these habits.

Do more.  Do it smart, but do more.

Plan what you’re going to do, when.  And then follow your plan.

Decide what you need to work on to reach your long-term goals, and focus on that.

And be willing to hustle with relentless consistency as you work toward whatever success you’ve set out to achieve.

It won’t always be easy.  Heck, it’ll usually be hard.

But there’s a reason I tell my kids “do the hard things” every day when I drop them off for school…

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr