You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

“You have too much time on your hands”

I heard it every day back in 2006, to the point where I started to believe it might be true. I had quit my stable job to start my own business and that meant working from home full time for the first time. While I had a solid contract lined up to pay the bills, I spent much of my time alternating between goofing off on the Internet and scheming up ways to make enough money that I wouldn’t have to rejoin the workforce.

In reality, the majority my time was spent goofing off on the Internet and planning my day around trips to Chipotle for lunch.

Planning my day around trips to a fancy fast food restaurant. An all time low for me? No, it was an inefficiency in the marketplace that I could not stand for.

There were 10 Chipotle restaurants that were 10 or more minutes away from my home office; restaurants in every city but mine. A potle-less pocket, a missed opportunity, a thorn in my side.

Spending 20-30 minutes to pick up lunch several times a week was not a viable long term strategy for me, so I either had to change my dining habits or bring the restaurant to my area.

Knowing that it could be years before Chipotle would notice that they were missing a location in my city, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I took an afternoon and wrote a letter to Chipotle asking them to consider opening a location, citing demographic evidence, a coverage map of Chipotle locations and some commercial real estate reconnaissance to support my argument.

The result is still there for all to see at www.chipotleroseville.com

“You have too much time on your hands”

That’s what they said when I unveiled my open letter to the restaurant, laughing at me all along the way.

You know who wasn’t laughing? Chipotle. They responded within a few days, going so far as to share my letter with their commercial real estate development firm, asking them to look into building a Roseville restaurant location.

They listened.

Within 6 months they announced a new store opening in Roseville and within 10 months of the letter the restaurant opened.

Time well spent

It took me an afternoon to write the story and create the website. We will call it 4 hours of time invested.

While your initial reaction may be to say “you have too much time on your hands,” it will potentially go down as the most productive uses of time in my life. How could that be?

Let’s start with the fact that this one letter caused a store to be built almost immediately after it was published (it takes several months/years to plan a restaurant opening).

Revenue per Restaurant

Chipotle has revenue of $1.8 Million per location each year

Add in the fact that this store has drawn millions of dollars in revenue for the restauranteurs and it is safe to say that four hours of time resulted in over $12,600,000 in revenue for Chipotle and tax base for Roseville. I create an economic value of over $3 Million an hour folks!

In addition to inspiring action from Chipotle, the story has been viewed over 100,000 times since it was published, even resulting in personal phone calls from my fellow Roseville residents thanking me for bringing the restaurant to their city.

And now I have a great story to tell at cocktail parties.

How are you spending your time?

I’ll be the first to admit that the action inspired by my letter to Chipotle is the exception and not the rule when it comes to getting things done. It’s probably not a sustainable strategy to rely on open letters to inspire action.

But there is a lesson to be learned here and that is this: the most valuable thing that you can do is to create.

Creating, innovating, developing, making – whatever you want to call it, this is the most important time that we spend in our lives. Yet we spend so little of our time actually creating. Why?

We are afraid of wasting our time.

We are afraid of being wrong.

We are distracted.

We are busy.

We don’t have enough time.

Enough with the excuses!

Here are things you wasted at least 4 hours doing over the past month:

  • Sleeping
  • Watching TV
  • Surfing LinkedIn
  • Wishing people “happy birthday” on Facebook
  • Sitting in a car
  • Reading
  • Driving to your favorite restaurant for lunch

If you took one of these hours each week and applied it to creating instead of consuming, you will have your most productive month in years.

If you do this for an entire year, your life will change in ways you can’t imagine today.

Stop waiting for the perfect opportunity and perfect timing. The time is now; Turn off your email, shut down twitter, block out distractions and just create something. Then do it again tomorrow. Eventually something great will happen.

You have too much time on your hands

While I may have too much time on my hands by conventional standards, I make it a point to set aside the perfect amount of time necessary to do something awesome.

Maybe it’s you who has too much time on their hands? If you spend more time consuming than creating, you should consider flipping that balance.

How are you spending your time?

About the Author

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of a suitcase somewhere in the world. Formerly of Minneapolis, MN and San Francisco, CA.

  • Ward T

    Not sure I would include “reading” as a waste of time, but what I really want to know is what are your favorite Chipotle menu items and why? 😉

    • I was not implying that reading was a waste of time. I read 10-20 hours a week, and that serves me well. But sometimes I read too much and it gets in the way of creating. So what I was saying is that if you read too much, you should take some time away and spend it being creative.

      My favorite Chipotle item of all time is probably a Chicken burrito with fajitas, rice, tomato, cheese and sour cream with Chips and Guac on the side. But I also love a Barbacoa bol with pintos and all the fixings. I love that there is tons of variety out of a seemingly small menu!