Do you struggle for time? Do you find yourself never having time for yourself, to do the things YOU want to do? Are you stuck in work, home, eat, sleep, repeat mode? Are you always pushing your dreams away, for that one day, when somehow you are going to have time? Only to realize that day never comes? What if that day is today? Today is your day to commit to change. Commit to these new habits and free ten, twenty even thirty hours/week. Are you ready?
“You don’t need more hours in the day – you just need different habits,” says Laura Stack in her book “Find More Time”.
Imagine the things you can do if you had ten or more extra hours a week:
- Research and book your dream vacation
- Get in the best shape of your life
- Enjoy the company of your friends
- Sleep more
- Spend quality time with the kids
- Find someone to spend your life with
- Volunteer for the organization you love
- Cook wholesome meals for the family
- Finish a new project for your business or house that always gets pushed aside
- Write a book
- Find your next dream job
- Take up a new hobby
- Spend hours in nature
- Meditate and do yoga
- Start a new business so you can quit your corporate job
This list goes on and on.
What is your motivation for finding more time? What do you dream of? What do you want to do with the extra time? Write it down. This is your WHY. You need to know your WHY before you can commit to these habits. Habits are hard to change. We get sucked into distractions, into mundane non-important stuff. Knowing your WHY will help you stay motivated and focused. Got your WHY? Good. Whatever you want to do with that extra time, know that you can do it.
Now let’s save you 10+ hours a week so you can focus on your WHY.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau
1. Establish Solid Social Media Boundaries
(Save 2 hours and 22 minutes/day+)
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Look, guys. I used to help brands tell their stories using social media. I know how it works. Every social media platform and every brand on social media wants to hijack your attention. They want you to interact with their content: read it, like it, watch it, share it, buy it. If you use social media, make sure you do it in a meaningful way. This study says we spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes every day on social media. Don’t believe the study? Test it yourself. Set your alarm clock and track exactly how much time you are spending on social media. Be honest. I’m not saying that you need to get off of social media completely. Be mindful of your time and decide when to go on social media and for how long. My recommendation is to leave it until later in the day. Setting up specific periods during the day for your social media will keep you on track. Take online breaks. Take time to unplug completely and turn off the constant streams of information. Mornings, evenings, and weekends work for me. It’s good for your focus, mental health, clarity, and mood.
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots” – attributed to Einstein but is an altered version of lines from the movie “Powder” (1995)
Don’t believe everything you see on social media. All these people living their perfect lives, going on a dream vacation and always crushing it at work. Their lives are not that ideal. How do I know? Because I continue to talk to people in real life and their situation is way different from what I see online. Truth. Even Facebook realizes this. They announced the removal of likes to protect users from envy and cut competitiveness.
- Use an app like ScreenTime, already installed on your phone and track your social media use.
- Make a conscious effort to cut down your social media time. You’d be happier without it.
2. Cut Down Your TV time
(Save 5+ hours)
Watching TV is a huge time suck. According to a Nielsen report, United States adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day on average (35.5 h/week, slightly more than 77 days per year). If you are used to catching up on the news in the morning, this adds at least 30 min to your day. Watching the news in the morning not only adds time but also decreases your ability to focus for the rest of the day. Plus it puts you in a bad mood. Keep TV time to a minimum. I like to watch movies too but I keep them on Friday night. This has turned into a weekly ritual for me and my husband. We treat Friday nights as date nights. We make a point to cook a nice meal, talk about the week and finish the evening with a good movie.
Track how much time you watch TV and cut it down for 7 days. See how you feel.
3. Get Out of Your Inbox
(Save 2+ hours)
We live in our inboxes and often check them first thing in the morning. Then we check them again and again and again throughout the day. It’s almost like we seek that distraction so we can feel productive. By busying ourselves with emails, we get out of working on our most important projects. “The average worker spends 28 percent of their workweek on email, more than 11 hours a week! In the time you spend on email this year, someone climbed Mount Everest twice. You can hike the Inca trail 27 times. Take 30 road trips across America. You can read the Harry Potter series cover-to-cover 18 times.” (Source: FrontApp). You can calculate how much time you are spending on email with this easy online calculator. All you need is the average amount of incoming emails each day.
Emails kill your priorities. I used to spend my days in my inbox and always wondered why I could never get anything done. I changed my habits and gained back at least 5 hours/week.
I installed Inbox When Ready and I realized that I could get my work done and still respond to emails on time. I now dedicate two periods during the day to check and respond to my emails. This has freed up time to work on more important projects and my priorities, instead of on someone else’s.
Apps worth checking out to help with your email:
- Unroll – clean up your inbox
- Boomerang – lets you control when you send and receive emails
- Rapportive – acquired by LinkedIn, this connects your Linkedin with your Gmail so you can add contacts and save time
- Inbox When Ready – protect your focus and allow for specific periods to check emails
- Keep an eye on Superhuman – from the founder of Rapportive, they promise to up the speed on emails as we’ve never seen before plus a few more features worth checking out.
- Unsubscribe from all email newsletters, store emails, social media notifications and everything that doesn’t bring value to your life.
- Install Inbox when Ready for Gmail or Inbox Pause by Boomerang for Outlook. It hides your inbox for the time you desire and allows you to focus on your projects. You can still send emails all day long.
4. Limit Distractions
(Save 1+ hour)
Buzzing, dinging, ringing. Social media, emails, text messages, many tabs on your computer. These non-important activities and distractions are diminishing your focus and extending your work hours. Turn them all off. Save your sanity. Save your focus. Save your time. There’s nothing so important coming in from Twitter or Facebook that can’t wait. You can leave your text and phone calls on but limit the number of times you check your phone throughout the day. Do you have 20+ tabs on your computer when working? You can use ChromeOneTab to turn them all into a list and save your computer battery. The average American checks their phone 80 times a day. And the average distraction delays your focus by 23 minutes. Imagine what this does to your productivity.
- Turn off all notifications on your phone.
- Install ChromeOneTab.
- Check your phone no more than 5 times a day.
5. Learn to Prioritize
(Save 5 hours)
Once a year, go to a place with low Internet speed for a week while still working and you will learn to prioritize. Instead of getting bogged down in mundane tasks, social media, and emails you will learn to focus on the important projects. When your Internet is slow, you go into survival mode. What is the absolute most critical thing you need to get done? That’s all the bandwidth you have to work with. The challenge is to maintain that mindset when you go back to fast speed. I learned this by going to Baja where the Internet can be very slow and I still have a lot of work to get done. Nothing better than learning this habit in the field.
The most important thing to do each day is to establish your priorities for the day. Only by focusing on the important projects you will move your business forward.
We get bombarded with new projects/tasks/to-do’s every day. You take care of these things and that leaves no time for your own most important goals. Your goals are still sitting there and unless you move closer to them they will continue to be just that, goals.
Write down the three most important tasks you want to do each day.
That’s it. Only three. I call this Mindful Focus. I take 5 minutes each day to establish my priorities for the day. I keep mine simple to 3 most important tasks. I use the Bullet Journal method, which is an analog system to write down my monthly, weekly and daily priorities. I take notes, use the calendar and keep it for brainstorming sessions and notes. The method is brilliant and gets me out of using technology for my to-dos list. This way, I can focus on the most important projects for my business and avoid getting sucked in emails, phone calls, and other people’s priorities. If you end up accomplishing more for the day, that’s great. Pat yourself on the back. Take the time each morning to decide what are the three things that will move you closer to your big goals. Take care of these three things first. Then spend time answering emails and doing other projects.
- Write down the three most important things you will get done today and see how you feel at the end of the day.
- Bonus points if book a one week vacation to a place with slow Internet. It will force you to learn to prioritize.
6. Say NO
(Save 3+ hours)
That party you don’t feel like going to? Say no. That new meeting, club, committee, live event, webinar, and workshop you have been invited to. Say no. That new course you want to sign up for? Say No. Simplify your commitments. Simplify your workload. Remember your WHY.
Need an excuse to give to people? I love this one, which was circulating on Twitter a while back:
E.B. White declining an invitation:
Sep 28, 1956
Dear Mr. Adams,
Thank you for your letter inviting me to join the committee of the Arts and Sciences for Eisenhower.
I must decline, for secret reasons.
That’s it. Simple. No lies. No brutal honesty. It works like magic.
When you fear that you will miss out on something great at that event, go back to your reason to save time, to your WHY and fill in the blank: You can be doing _____________ instead.
- Review your current commitments and see what you can get out of.
- The next time something comes up, sit with it for a while and decide if it’s worth doing/going to.
(Save XX depending on your life)
We all commit ourselves too much. Take on too much. Get pulled into too many directions. What if we drew a line in the sand and said no more. No more new projects, new clients, new work, new skills, new diets, new… Do an inventory of your current projects and see where you can cut off some fat. What are the things you can simplify in your life right now? Projects and tasks you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t had time? Your pantry? Your recipes? Your shopping? Leave only the things you value, make an impact, support your wellbeing and have meaning for you. Cut everything else out. It will leave you feeling less stressed and with more time for your WHY.
- Simplify your life.
- Stop overcommitting yourself.
8. End Useless Meetings
(Save 2 – 10 hours)
You can still go to meetings. But when you do, follow meeting protocols to make sure the meeting is effective and efficient. Most times, you can replace a meeting with a phone call or an email. In-person meetings are often great if you follow these rules:
- Always start the meeting on time. Don’t wait for latecomers.
- Schedule enough time to cover the meeting: If it’s 15 min, keep it to 15 min.
- Always have an agenda for the meeting and the desired outcome of the meeting. Schedule enough time to achieve the outcome. If that’s 3 hours, make it a 3-hour meeting.
- Choose meeting attendees carefully. Sometimes fewer attendees achieve more.
- Moderate the meeting and stick to the main goal. People like to have side conversations, make sure to keep them for after the meeting ends.
- Take meeting minutes and distribute them after the meeting.
- Don’t allow technology to ruin your meeting.
- Ask people to prepare for the meeting ahead of time. Send out an agenda ahead of time.
- Own your meeting and don’t let someone else take over.
- Try conducting standing meetings. It’s better for creativity and keeping the time short. Bonus points for doing your meetings outside.
- Decisions by committee are a horrible waste of time. Avoid at all means.
Stick to these rules and you will gain back a lot of wasted and unproductive time. If you work for a larger organization, imagine what this approach will do for productivity.
“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything” – John Kenneth Galbraith
- Schedule only meetings you need.
- See how many meetings you can get out of without getting fired.
9. Stack Your Benefits
(Save XX depending on what you execute)
- Practice gratitude while walking the dog.
- Practice mindfulness while doing the dishes.
- Do your squats and push-ups while waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning. You can get in a 7- minute workout while making your coffee.
- Practice standing meditation while in line at the grocery store.
- My favorite hack: take 1 min to write down follow up action items after a meeting or a phone call, add them to your to-do list or a calendar right away.
Observe your behavior and see what changes you can make to what you already do.
(Save 5+ hours)
Declutter Your Physical Life
Clearing your physical belongings does wonder for mental clarity, focus and extra time. Extra stuff weighs you down and ends up owning you. Take some time to declutter your desk, office, wardrobe, house, and garage. Get rid of everything you no longer use, bring you joy or have an emotional meaning for you. It took us 2 years to get through everything in the house but it was worth it. We enjoy more time, freedom and money to do the things we want to do – including spending the winter months in Baja. Yes, it takes time but the result is space, freedom, time, happiness, new business.
Declutter Your Digital Life
Besides physical belongings, we end up accumulating a ton of digital files. Take a weekend or two to organize your files. Delete the ones you no longer need. Put all your photos in one place. Put your files in one place organized by folders. Organize your music. Delete apps on your phone you no longer need or use. Review your podcasts and delete the ones you no longer listen to. It feels liberating and you will cut down on time looking for the files you need.
- Mark your calendar to declutter your house. Start small. One room or one drawer at a time.
- Mark your calendar to cut down your digital files.
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” Joshua Becker
11. Handle Everything Only Once
Emails, bills, messages. Figure out a system that works for you to handle everything only once. When you open an email, respond to it if you can quickly, file it to work on it later or delete it. This system can save you a lot of time. The same principle applies to bills and phone messages.
Start a system where you handle everything that comes your way only once.
12. Batch Work
(Save 2+ hours)
From prepping meals on the weekends to doing similar tasks at once, batch work will save you at least of 2 hours/week. Schedule batch work on your calendar. For me, these things involve social media work, writing, email campaigns, marketing funnels, content creation, and self-development practices. Whatever you do throughout the week, see if you can put it together by activity and do it all at once. You won’t lose your flow and focus on going from one project to another.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.“ Charles Buxton
Congratulations! You are off to a great start! You are on the road to save yourself anywhere between 10 to 30 hours a week with these habits. A word of caution: Don’t try to do them at once. Start with one and once you master it, start a new one.
I would love it if you go to our Facebook group and leave us a comment. We’d love to hear what your WHY is, how you are applying these habits, and any challenges you come across the way. Connect with us at Unhustle.com for more tips and ideas on how to Unhustle your life.