Sabri Suby Has Mastered The Workweek And You Can Too

Sabri Suby has mastered the workweek. And you can too.

As a presiding judge in the court of Shark Tank and the founder of skyrocketing digital marketing agency King Kong, Sabri Suby has quickly become one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs. And he’s done it by squeezing as much time out of his day as possible.

IT’S FAR TOO easy to succumb to the unforgiving nature of the 9-5. Once you factor in the early mornings, the pre-work prep, and the lengthy commute, the inescapable and enormously depressing conclusion, is that there’s simply not enough time for your other passions. That can affect your productivity in the workplace. Thankfully, there are alternatives.

Entrepreneurs like Sabri Suby don’t reach their goals by letting the workweek control their life. Instead, Suby is the master of his own time, and he believes you can be, too. “We all have the same 24 hours in a day,” he tells Men’s Health. “The best way to truly value your time is to understand how scarce it is.”

In 2014, Suby launched King Kong with $50 to his name. Today, King Kong is a $91 million international operation, Australia’s fastest growing digital marketing agency—as awarded by Deloitte—and has more than 400,000 customers in 136 countries, reportedly generating $7.8 billion in client revenue. It is Suby’s business acumen that landed him the coveted role of resident Shark on the recent revival of Shark Tank Australia, recognition of his status as one of the nation’s most astute business minds.

Suby didn’t turn a start-up into a multi-million dollar international enterprise by drifting through the day. He did it by recognising the value and importance of his time, and how it can become a weapon. “Time is the most valuable currency that we ever have because it’s non-renewable. It’s much more valuable than money,” he says.

Suby’s time management system utilises ruthless prioritisation and military-grade regimentation. Ruthless is, in fact, the adjective Suby landed on when we asked him to condense his core time management philosophy into a single word. But despite this, Suby assures us that his scheduling isn’t all work and no play, the point is to get more time out of your day. “It’s not about being a robot and being militant and not having fun. I think that getting more efficiency out of your work time allows you to have more fun,” he says.

We asked Suby to take us through the key aspects of his time management system. He ran us through how his approach helps him extract every millimetre of value out of his day and grow his business. It worked for Suby, and it could work for you. Read on for Suby’s keys to success.

 

“Ruthless” scheduling

 

What does Suby’s ruthless time management system look like in action, you ask? For starters, all meetings are strictly reserved for Mondays and Fridays, meaning those days are usually jam-packed. But, as Suby says, that at least clears the more time-consuming activities out of his schedule. “Doing lots of meetings isn’t really an activity that gives me lots of energy, it’s something that taxes my energy,” Suby says. “I like to do it all in one day just to get it over and done with so I have enough energy to put into more creative tasks.”

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are what Suby calls “deep work days”. This is when he locks in and gets most of his work done. “They’re my do not disturb days. No one can book meetings with me then,” he says. “Those are the days that I purely push the boulder up the hill and focus on growing the business.” Growth is an integral aspect of everything Suby does, with a focus on making tangible changes that will improve his business in the long run. “Most of my time is not spent on what we’re doing this quarter, it’s what we’re doing in this quarter next year and planning into the future,” Suby says.

 

 

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A post shared by Sabri Suby (@sabrisuby)

 

Optimising time management

 

Day to day, Suby breaks his time down into 30-minute increments, which helps him stay on top of things and maintain efficient productivity. He credits what he calls the “king’s audit” as critical in helping him optimise his time management from early in his career. “Knowing that I sleep eight hours and I’m awake for 16 hours, I’m constantly auditing how I’m spending my time and knowing the value of my time.”

The basics of the king’s audit is this: take your total salary, or if you’re a business owner, your total revenue, and divide that figure by the number of hours you work in a year. That will essentially give you your hourly rate, or how much profit you should be generating in every working hour. Suby suggests that, for example, if you earn $5,000 an hour and you can outsource your hourly tasks for less than $5,000 an hour, you should be doing so to instead focus on other avenues of profit generation. “Otherwise, you’re just losing money to do that task and not making any growth.

“Constantly doing that exercise has catapulted my business growth,” Suby says. “When I stopped working on the busy work and running errands and doing the small things that don’t move the needle, that’s where I went from earning $10,000 a month to earning millions of dollars per month.”

 

Avoiding distractions and staying focused

 

One of the biggest barriers to productivity and time efficiency is unnecessary distractions. When there’s a set amount of work to be done, distractions can only prolong the time you need to spend working, while minimising your time away from the workplace. To solve this issue, Suby does everything in his power to stay locked in. “I like creating moats around myself where people can’t just come and constantly interrupt me,” Suby says. “The key is eradicating the ability of people to book these ‘Got a minute?’ meetings with you, which is like death by a thousand paper cuts,” he continues. “I am accessible, I’m not up in the hills like a monk or something, but only on particular days of the week.”

As for staying focused, Suby makes use of a system similar to that of the renowned pomodoro method. But rather than follow the standard 25 minutes of work followed by a five minute break routine, Suby prefers a less strict system, where the emphasis is on staying focused for unlimited periods of time, with occasional breaks. “People are often surprised with how much work that you can get done when you really work. I’m talking about email off, only three tabs open and a laser focus burning a hole through things and getting them done,” Suby says. “For me, the bulk of that heavy lifting is done between 6am and 12pm. I try to get a six-hour block of just uninterrupted work in during those times and I get a huge lot of it done.”

During that six-hour period, Suby turns his email off and keeps his phone out of reach to minimise potential distractions. He even has a “focus playlist” which helps him stay locked in. “It’s so my brain subconsciously knows, ‘Okay this is the time to focus’,” he says.

 

Minimising decision-making

 

To stay in the zone, it’s crucial for Suby that he doesn’t waste time on trivial decisions that ultimately won’t impact the outcome of his day. “Everybody experiences decision fatigue. There’s only so much mental RAM that we have to make decisions and I don’t like to use it on mundane things,” Suby says. In line with that mindset, Suby only owns black T-shirts. It’s part of his effort to save his brain for the decisions that really matter. “From the food that I eat to what I wear, everything is very regimented because then I can keep the freshest part of my brain for the important decisions,” he says.

While Suby’s time management philosophy won’t be for everyone, it certainly has its merits. For one, extracting time out of the working day to make space for other pursuits could be play an important role in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Regardless of whether or not Suby’s schedule is right for you, it’s hard to argue with the results.

 

Sabri Suby

Note the black t-shirt, a man of his word

 

Related:

Mark Bouris on the importance of discipline

The Dan Churchill method for achieving success

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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