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3 Simple Hacks to Unlock 5 Hidden Hours Each Week

3 Simple Hacks to Unlock 5 Hidden Hours Each Week

“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.

First, Eliminate

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.

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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.

Then, Automate

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.

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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.

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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.

Last, Outsource

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?”

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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.

Conclusion

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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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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