#010: How to Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week [Podcast]

In this podcast episode, I talk practical ways to restore margin in your life and, specifically, how to shave ten hours off your work week.

This Is Your Life, Episode 10

This is something I am personally having to re-apply to my own life. In this episode I share some of my current challenges.

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Episode Outline

If you are intentional, I believe you can shave at least ten hours—maybe more—off your work week. That is forty hours or one week a month. Even if I am only have right, it’s still an enormous amount of time.

Here are seven strategies to get you started:

  1. Limit your time online.
  2. Plan your day in advance.
    • Quadrant 1 Tasks: Urgent and Important
    • Quadrant 2 Tasks: Important But Not Urgent
    • Quadrant 3 Tasks: Urgent But Not Important
    • Quadrant 4 Tasks: Neither Urgent Nor Important
  3. Touch e-mails once and only once.
  4. Triage your calendar.
  5. Schedule time in the alone zone.
  6. Use batch processing.
  7. Use e-mail templates to say “no.”

Listener Questions

  1. Question #1: Jane Graham asked, “How can my husband, who is a busy public high school principal, cut back?”
  2. Question #2: Jen McDonough asked, “What’s the best way to get started with a virtual assistant?”
  3. Question #3: Kurt Feldner asked, “How can I use crowd-sourcing to save time?”
  4. Question #4: Lessa Barnes asked, “How can I delegate in a way that doesn’t end up costing me more time than if I had done it myself”

Next week, I will be talking about “The Secret Power of Naps.” If you have a question about that topic, please leave me a voice mail. I’d love to hear from you.

Special Announcements

  1. My new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, started shipping last week. I am very pleased how it turned out. However, please don’t buy it yet. This may be a strange request, coming from the author, but there’s a method in my madness.

    I want to register as many sales as possible during the first official pub week of May 21–25 in order to have a shot at driving the best sellers list.

    As a result, I have put together a bonus package of seven FREE BONUSES worth $375.98! To get this special bonus offer, all you have to do is buy the book. I can’t tell you more yet, but you can signup here to be notified when this special offer is available.

  2. I will be speaking at Catalyst Dallas, Texas next week on May 9–11. I will be leading a lab on Wednesday, May 9th on the topic of my new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. You can find out more at CatalystDallas.com.
  3. I will be speaking at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo in New York City on June 5–7. I will be leading one of the “Super Sessions” on Thursday, June 7th, at 9:00 a.m. You can register here before May 15 and save $100 off the three-day blogger and podcaster pass.

Episode Resources

I mentioned the following resources in the show:

Show Transcript

You can download a transcript of this episode here.

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Question: How are you doing at the practice of priority management? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Priority management needs to be more of a priority for me.  I definitely feel like I’m way too busy these days.  Some of it is natural at this stage of life with two kids in middle school, but so much of it is self induced.  I can’t wait to listen to this podcast to hear some wisdom that could clearly help me.  Thanks, Michael!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Priority management has been a struggle for me. But I’m learning how to cut back on the unimportant and focus on the priorities. Saying no to the less important tasks has been difficult to say the least but I am seeing the benefits.

  • Bryan Miles

    Mike, thanks for the mention of eaHELP. Grateful! We love serving you!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Looking forward to your podcast on my commute today, Michael. As for me, two techniques help keep me on track. One is the Power of 48 minutes… simply turn off distractions and do one thing for 48 minutes. Then take a 12 minute break…. repeat as necessary. 

    The other technique is to “Go home at noon.” I just plan my day like I’m leaving on a trip at noon. This mentally prepares me to get the important things done first. This leaves the afternoon for the other three quadrants…

    • Jim Martin

      John,
      I like your system of working 48 minutes and then taking a 12 minute break.  I have not heard of this before.  I can see how such a schedule might be very helpful on several fronts.

      The “Go home at noon” tactic is interesting as well.  I need to try this. 

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    I use block scheduling.  I block my mornings for creativity and production (3o min for social media then go to writing, product development, planning).  I am freshest and most productive then.  Afternoons is my time to interact with others on the phone, have meetings, network etc.  I am an extrovert and this energizes me during a part of the day I start to lag.

    • Jim Martin

      Dave, I also block my time.  Like you, I find that I am most fresh and creative in the morning.  I have learned to not use that time to do a mindless task that really could be done most any time of the day.  This has been helpful.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Dave,
      Yes! Tim Ferris talks about batch processing and it has made a ton of difference for me!

    • BillintheBlank

      I find my most creative time is also in the morning. After a brief hour of essential morning maintenance at the office, I try to protect a two-hour chunk to knock out important but not urgent items.

      Does anyone else meet resistance from those who think their urgent issue should be your urgent issue? What ways have you found to respond without seeming rude?

  • http://www.christopherneiger.com/ Chris Neiger

    Your thoughts on touching emails only once have helped tremendously! Now I need to learn how to batch my tasks!

  • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

    These strategies are great ways to be intentional about handling time!  I love technology, but it’s a little scary how quickly I can get pulled into the vortex.  
    I also signed up to be notified about your book going on sale so I can buy it during that key window.  We’re all pulling for you and want the book to do well!  Thanks for all you’ve given and shared so generously.  You’ve really created a tribe!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ann. I appreciate your support!

  • Kim Hall

    I love having the transcripts available as an alternative to the podcast, as sometimes that is a better solution for me.

    That I Love Lucy episode is priceless, isn’t it? As you noted, it is such a metaphor for our work and life. Since I work at helping moms build stronger and more satisfying relationships with themselves and others, I found that clip a metaphor as well for moms who get overwhelmed by trying to be Supermom,  doing everything alone that comes their way on the conveyer belt of life. I used it and wrote about that very topic this week.

    I love how your perspective adds more tools and ideas that are applicable to wherever we are.

    Really appreciate your experience and wisdom on living more purposefully!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kim. I appreciate so much your comment.

  • David

    Great podcast, Michael, but I wanted to ask about some of your strategies as they relate to a job like mine. Several items on your list involve sanctioning off time blocks for certain activities, like email or phone calls, so that you can be productive. However, my job often involves tech-support issues and service calls where email and phone access are critical 24/7. Have you worked with – or heard from – service professionals who are slaves to the “dings” and pop-ups of email, voice mail, and phone calls? How do they handle the distractions?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      In this situation, responding to your customers is your number 1 priority. I don’t think you should fight that. The key is how can you block off time around the edges to do focused tasks that are secondary. Thanks.

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com Gail B. Hyatt

    Make sure to listen to the podcast. The “show notes” are just the skeleton. :-)

    • Jim Martin

      You are right, Gail.  I usually skimm through the “show notes” first but really don’t get the full value of the post until I listen to the podcast.

  • http://www.robsorbo.com/p/welcome-from-disqus.html Rob Sorbo

    My situation is unique–I am an hourly employee who is not allowed to work overtime. So, once I hit 40 hours, I have to leave.  ALSO, I’m only busy maybe 60% of the time. I do seek extra responsibilities, usually to no avail. Some weeks I’m quite busy, so they can’t justify making the team smaller. So I actually find myself trying to kill time, rather than make better use of my time.

    • BillintheBlank

      Wow. That actually could be pretty cool if they’ll let you use your down time for personal development. If you can make the case well, it could be a win-win.

      What company wouldn’t want their employees to become more productive when they have nothing to do?

  • mike_freestone

    “Productivity drops 40% when you are multi-tasking”  I chuckled to myself as I am at the coffee shop, working, checking email, processing orders….and listening to the podcast.  But it was worth it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulhaddix Paul Haddix

    Great Podcast.  I use many of these techniques already and this was a good reminder of where I need to improve and get back to basics.  The idea of e-mail signatures is a huge help. One additional time saver I use here is a program called Typinator (http://www.ergonis.com/products/typinator/) which allows you to assign an abbreviation or keyword to automatically insert your desired signature.  Using keyboard commands in place of pointing and clicking through menu items is a benefit and a time saver, and Typinator allows for doing this in combination with template based communication.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use Typinator too. Love it.

    • http://www.theemptyinbox.com/ Michael Hawkins

       Paul – I use a similar product called ActiveWords (PC-based).  Here’s the link for those that are interested:  http://www.ActiveWords.com.  I love it!

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    This was a very helpful podcast for me. I’ve been struggling with everything that’s been thrown at me lately, after listening to the episode, I have some planning to do!

  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you Michael.  I just finished listening to this as I was going through my emails which seemed fitting.  Another listen I will be giving to this podcast.
    Thanks again.

    K, bye

  • Francis_iso

    Isokari Francis Ololo:  Good and educative piece.  Well done, sir.

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  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    Michael,
    Loved how you set up the podcast by saying you were going to preach to yourself and I could listen in!

    My favorite parts:

    1.Use technology to manage technology.
    2. There is such a thing as a delete key. (ha)
    3. Quit Thursdays!
    4. Batching.

    Great podcast, Michael.

  • Carole Bell

    Wow. I love information like this that is specific, nitty-gritty help. Thanks.

  • Billsiren

    Excellent post, Mike.  I feel like I have such little time in the day (and night) to accomplish what I have to get done.  But looking at your strategy list, I am guilty of several of these!  I am so easily distracted on things that really don’t matter, apparently.  Keep up the great posts.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Bill. I appreciate that.

  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    Plan you day in advance…that’s HUGE for me, especially when I plan my day by chunking things down into blocks of time.

  • http://www.drmarisfaithstop.com/ Dr Mari

    “Quitting things that don’t add value” is my best take-home message here, and it can apply to all of life. And getting out of activities that don’t add value will help us be more present where we are. I also love the idea of scheduling appointments with myself.

    So… I need to go. I have another commitment right now. ;) Thanks for such a practical podcast!

  • http://www.drmarisfaithstop.com/ Dr Mari

    Dr Richard Swenson’s book “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives” offers many practical ways to increase margin in our lives.

  • http://twitter.com/Jon_Casillas Jonathan Casillas

    I love the info you have put into it this is how I have broken it down please let me know what you guys think

  • http://twitter.com/Jon_Casillas Jonathan Casillas

    sorry here is a more up to date graph

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent. I like it. I used to use a similar graph in my daily planning.

    • http://www.drmarisfaithstop.com/ Dr Mari

       Love the chart! I will make my own today. Thank you, Michael & Jonathan.

      • http://twitter.com/Jon_Casillas Jonathan Casillas

        I am a visual person so I did it for myself but figured others might find some use in it

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  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Thank you, Michael.  

    I have heard so many tips on managing email (which may be the “killer app” of the 90′s but it’s become the “time-killer app” of the ’10′s), however, I’ve never heard the idea of having just one folder for viewed emails.  

    With the search filters working so well these days, you made me realize that my half-dozen+ separate folders was completely unnecessary complexity.

    In addition to irunurun, we are launching iprayupray, so I just created a single folder for each and condensed everything into one of these two folders…and voila!  My email screen is a happier place!Next stop…zero inbox.  

    Got under 20 last week, but it exploded back over 150.  Email is a scourge, but I’m determined to keep it under control.

    Look forward to seeing you at Leadercast tomorrow!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Travis!

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  • http://twitter.com/eccle0412 Jackie Anderson

    The things we think help us can dominate us. Admittedly I  listen to pod-casts while on dreadmil and read the text of the morning news if necessary. No TV at home. This multitasking keeps me informed in the least amount of time. 
    If you have to use an app to keep yourself off social media the problem is a self control issue, no? How about a simple kitchen timer? To me it is all a stewardship issue.  Investment principles as opposed to spending issues.
    I noticed female callers. Maybe a podcast directed to us “moms” who desire to produce but have a primary roll at home.
    Thanks again for letting us into your life and wisdom.

    • http://twitter.com/SueBe1984 Sue Bishop

      Amen Jackie! I’m a task oriented person for the most part and tend to compartmentalize and get stuff done to free up the rest of my time to be flexible and leave time for people and relationship building. I don’t tend to get off track with rabbit trails because I’m a focused person and use technology as a tools to get where I need to go. 

      However, several of these tools will be interesting to try out. I also consider myself a lifelong learner so I’m always willing to try something new that may be helpful. 

      Thanks Michael!

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  • http://www.djchuang.com djchuang

    Fantastic podcast! Great to hear of the experimenting and the work in progress, and inviting us in on the behind-the-scenes. The tips from Podcast Answer Man were super, cool to hear how you put so many of them into practice so quickly. 

    In addition to your stated goal of “adding value” to the listener, I’m inferring that you’ve implied your having some other goals too, in being intentional about how you want to add value for listeners, be it being sustainable or reaching a certain audience size or cultivating business leads for your professional life, etc etc. So the more that’s articulated, the better you’d be able to make this podcast most fitting for you and for your listeners. And being the super-productive very-intentional kinda guy you are, you probably knew that already :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, D.J. Yes, I have been very specific about my goals. It’s a lot of work, but I think it will pay off—perhaps sooner than I thought.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Priority management at the moment has not been a priority. Hoping to change those things this week

  • Al in Tokyo

    Great episode Michael!

    I’d just like to share a concept i picked up from the Internet Business Mastery Podcast which they dub “Just in Time Learning.” If you have the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset, you probably want to keep learning new things all the time. The “Just in Time Learning” concept means that you only consume content which you can act on immediately.

    We all get “shiny new object” syndrome so this works best to keep us on track with those Quadrant 2 activities. This has helped me become more productive indeed.

    Cheers,

    Al

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great concept.

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  • http://www.MissionMusings.com/ Michelle Porter

    I just listened to this podcast.  I think the biggest tip and takeaway in this day and age, is setting aside time for social networking, and keeping away from it during the other times.  It can really eat away at your day!  

    Scheduling alone time is attractive for those Type A workaholics, who are always under a state of overwhelm, and can’t seem to feel a “settled-ness” about them.  Without margin, there can be no balance, and the two top things that suffer are family and health.

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  • Brian A. Holmes

    Michael, I am listening to this over and over.  Absolutely FULL of real solutions and tested strategies. I need this, and WILL use these great tools. Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great. I am so glad you are finding it helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/Chaz_Clark Chaz Clark

    This blog has helped me tremendously.  I have now read “Getting things Done” and am implementing that system, along with all the email tricks you taught. It has been a long, hard transformation but it has been worth it.

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  • http://www.geemco.de/ Goetz Mueller

    While listening to this actual podcast especially the batch processing / anti multitasking part one topic came to my mind. In production, especially car production there is a method or even more a philosophy called one piece flow (as part of Lean resp. the Toyota Production System) which is now successfully in use for decades. Initially and in certain industries it still raises a lot of objections (“it won’t work here”, “we haven’t done that”, “we’ve tried it once and it doesn’t work”, etc.). So I wonder if there might be a way to adapt these ideas to personal management / organization. Of course, it would need a significant change in the way of working and thinking (as it needed in production and still needs in many areas).

    What’s your view on that? Did you ever come across such an approach?
     

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I have never come across that approach. Sorry.

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