Protect Your Time (Avoid $10 Tasks)

A business degree in college requires at least two accounting courses. Unfortunately, there are no classes on time management, outsourcing, or prioritization.

Forced to choose, I would have paid triple for the later and a fraction for the former.

As founders, our most important decision is how we spend our time. Everyone has the same amount, but it’s used differently. 

In 2016, I was listening to a podcast episode on my morning commute. The guest invited listeners to try the following activity:

  1. Divide a sheet of paper into 4 columns.
  2. Place the following headings on the columns: $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000
  3. Write each of your daily tasks into the column that best represents the hourly cost of hiring someone else to do the work.
    – ‘Book appointment’ goes in the $10/hr column since you could hire a freelancer or firm for less than or equal to $10 per hour.
    –  ‘Design new brochure’ goes in the $100/hr column. It could be done well for around $100 per hour.

The guest shared that most professionals spend more than 80% of their time on $10 tasks. I have repeated this exercise with dozens of founders and found similar results. 

Consider a $50,000 salary. It equates to roughly $25/hour. If most of the time is on $10 tasks, we are overpaying for the lowest value work.

We wouldn’t tolerate financial theft, yet we allow it within our schedules every day. The gap in value becomes a limiting factor to growth and profitability. Unaddressed, it’s no surprise most businesses struggle and eventually fail.

Our schedules can become consumed with the squeaky wheels, the rote, and the mundane. To increase the value of our organizations, more time must be spent on higher value tasks.

This is true for ourselves and the people we lead.

What is the highest value use of your time?

I’m going heavy on recommendations because this perspective in our lives and businesses:

PS. The goal is excellence, not perfection. There will always be more valuable ways to spend our time. Cultivating an awareness and intentionality about how we invest our time leads to continual improvement. We will get distracted but how quickly do get jump back on track?

Morgan J Lopes


Acknowledgements and gratitude for these learnings. A special thanks to…

  • Casey Graham, for pushing founders to think like CEOs and inviting great guests onto your podcast.
  • Matthew Marshall, for cementing the label ‘$10 tasks’ into our DNA. It gives us the language to consistently push for greater value from ourselves and others.
  • CBQ, for giving me a template* to respectfully decline meetings. It make time management practical and actionable.

* See my rejection email template below.


Hey, thanks for reaching out. I need to decline at the moment.

My first priority is to my team, our organization, and those we serve. I must keep my schedule available for them.
If there is something specific I could share experiences on related to the tech/business/startups/entrepreneurship, please do ask but I need to stick to email!

Also, many of my thoughts have been distilled into a searchable format here…


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