“I just didn’t have the time.”
People say it without even thinking. It’s by far the number one muttered excuse for not getting things done. What people should really be saying is… “I didn’t make it a priority.”
There are hours and hours of hidden productivity in all of our lives, no matter who you are. And I’m not talking about doing things like working 80 hours a week, sleeping less, or anything else that is going to take away from your health and slowly kill you over time.
I’m talking about a few simple hacks you can use to free up extra time in your life by getting more stuff done that matters. Because at the end of the day, those things that you say “I just didn’t have enough time” to, are things that are supposed to be priorities for you.
This is a simple explanation of what I call, The Productivity Blueprint.
What activities in your life have absolutely no value, or an incredibly low amount of value? Think about it. There are a lot of low value things that we do, such as watching TV, but for some people that brings them joy and helps them relax, so I consider that valuable. My advice for recreation is to focus on the stuff that brings you the highest amount of joy, and maybe let the rest slide a bit.
Past a certain point, some types of recreation might not provide value at all. They might just be “something to do.”
What I want you to do is completely eliminate the things that you do in your life that have no value towards your priorities (that are hopefully time-based). These may be things like:
- Reading trash magazines
- Watching excessive amounts of television (Especially the news. It’s called The Internet.)
- Spending an excessive amount of time browsing the web and social media (except this article)
- Talking on the phone (some people are literally addicted to this)
- Deleting 50 emails a day (just unsubscribe)
- Excessive driving (commuting outside of rush hour can easily save you an hour a week or more)
- Looking for stuff (just get organized!)
- Figuring out what to do next (you should always work from a list)
- And more…
My advice is to be aggressive with yourself. Really question your daily routine. Even the most productive of us, myself included, have our time wasters.
By practicing just a tiny bit of elimination, you can often grab 2-3 hours a week, by doing this alone.
After you’ve gone through the elimination step, you’ve inherently told yourself that everything else that you do is somehow important.
In the automation step, you’re going to take advantage of technology to streamline your daily life.
The absolute best thing you can automate is your personal finances. The world of paperless billing and automated transactions can save literally 5-10 hours a month.
If you’re still in the paper world even with a single bill, think about how much time you spend walking that paper trail, for ONE thing:
- Walking to the mailbox
- Opening the envelope while trying not to cut yourself
- Fumbling through the pages of a bill you don’t want to see anyway
- Finding your checkbook and dusting it off
- Traveling back to 1998
- Moving the cat from your desk
- Writing a check
- Finding an envelope to mail it in
- Searching for your stamps in a drawer of other useless junk
- Figuring out how to fit your bill and check securely in the return envelope
- Moving the cat again
- Sealing your envelope
- Writing the return address on the envelope
- Mailing the envelope
And I probably left out some steps… not to mention the distractions you will no doubt encounter along the way.
I don’t know about you, but that would take me like 45 minutes at least. Most of it would be remember how to write a check.
But consider the paperless route, and paying that bill automatically from your account. Here’s the process.
- Do nothing
Yep, that’s it. Doing nothing in this case produces the exact same result in infinity less time, and you only have to set it up once.
If you’re a real technophobe, set up an alert for when your bill is paid. That’ll take you 30 seconds max to read in your email.
The real beauty here is that this time saving strategy works to your advantage every time you pay that bill. So you’re not just saving time once. You’re benefiting every time you would have to pay that bill.
There are other ways you can automate your life as well, including:
- Having non-perishables delivered on a schedule through Amazon Subscribe, eliminating trips to the store
- Configuring automatic updates and virus scans on your computer
- Setting up automated filters in your email to keep it organized it for you
- Using a call screener on your phone to eliminate unwanted phone calls
- Get automated appliances to manage your home for you
Using technology to automate your life can easily save you 2-3 hours a week, even on a small scale.
Everything left over that you can’t either eliminate or automate, is a candidate for outsourcing, which means having someone else do lower value tasks for you. It’s a money for time trade in most cases.
The easiest way to figure out the things you can outsource is to ask yourself one simple question – “What can’t someone else do for me?”
This literally means to put the things at the top of your list that only you can do, such as working on a project that only you have the knowledge to complete. For example, no one could write this article for me, at least not how I want to write it.
Other lower value items like housework, yard work, daily errands, and other tiny remedial tasks that can easily be routine-driven and systematized (yes, that’s a word), etc, can be completed by someone else.
If money is an issue, question what you’re spending your money on as well. It’s often a lot better to free up time for important tasks than it is to have a few more extra bucks here and there.
Outsourcing effectively can gain you a massive amount of time, several hours per week on a small scale, and even in the double digit realm on a larger scale.
By following the hierarchy of Eliminating, Automating, then Outsourcing, you can easily grab an extra 5 hours each week, if not much much more, to complete your high priority projects.
You’ll never be able to say “I just didn’t have enough time” again.
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