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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.

More by this author

Cody Wheeler

Cody is a self-improvement blogger at Academy Success, the place to learn life skills you don't learn in school.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2021

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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Relocate your alarm clock.

Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

Scrap the snooze.

The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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Change up your buzzer

If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

Make a puzzle

If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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Get into a routine

Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

Have a reason

Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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