How to Shave Ten Hours Off Your Work Week

Almost everyone I know is working more time than they would like. That’s why a book like The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss has been such a big bestseller. This is a great book, but the promise is a little over the top. I don’t know of anyone, including Tim Ferriss, who really only works four hours.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ferrantraite, Image #2579442

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ferrantraite

But what if you could shave ten hours off your work week? In my opinion, that is much more do-able. Virtually anyone, with a little thought and effort can do it. Here’s how:

  1. Limit the time you spend online. In my experience, the Web is most people’s #1 time suck. Yes, I know it is a wonderful tool for research, blah, blah, blah. But I often catch myself and my family members mindlessly surfing from one page to another with no clear objective in mind. Before you know it, you can eat up several hours a day. The key is to put a fence around this activity and limit your time online. Set a timer for yourself if you have to.This is true for Web surfing and it is also true for email. Unless you are in a customer service position where you have to be “always-on,” you should check email no more than two or three times a day.
  2. Touch email messages once and only once. Okay, let’s be honest. How many times do you read the same email message over and over again? Guess what? The information hasn’t changed. That’s right. You are procrastinating.I have a personal rule: I will only read each message once then take the appropriate action: do, delegate, defer, file or delete it. I describe these in more detail in a post I made last week.
  3. Follow the two-minute rule. My to-do list is very short. It never gets longer than about thirty items. This is because I do everything I can immediately. If I need to make a phone call, rather than entering it on my to-do list, I just make the call.If I can complete the action in less than two minutes, I just go ahead and do it. Why wait? You will be amazed at how much this “bias toward action” will reduce your workload.

    Conversely, when you don’t do it promptly, you end up generating even more work for yourself and others. The longer a project sits, the longer it takes to overcome inertia and get it moving again. The key is to define the very next action and do it. You don’t have to complete the whole project, just the next action.

  4. Stop attending low-impact meetings. If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on, it’s that we go to too many meetings. Either the meeting organizer isn’t prepared, the meeting objective isn’t defined, or you can’t really affect the outcome one way or the other.Every meeting should have a written objective and a written agenda. If you don’t have these two minimal items, how do you know when the meeting is over? Could this also explain why meetings seem to drag on and on until everyone is worn out?

    If the content of the meeting is irrelevant to you and your job or if you don’t feel that you really add that much to the discussion, ask to be excused.

  5. Schedule time to get your work done. This is crucial. As the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.” If you don’t take control of your calendar, someone else will. You can’t spend all your time in meetings and still get your work done.Instead, you need to make appointments with yourself. Yes, go ahead and actually put them on your calendar. Then, when someone asks for a meeting, you can legitimately say, “No, I’m sorry, that won’t work. I already have a commitment.” And you do—to yourself!
  6. Cultivate the habit of non-finishing. Not every project you start is worth finishing. Sometimes we get into it and realize, “This is a waste of time.” Fine, then give yourself permission to quit.I do this all the time with reading. It’s why I am able to read so many articles and books. Here’s publishing’s dirty little secret: most books are not worth finishing. Most books could be cut in half and you wouldn’t miss a thing. The key is to read as long as you are interested and then stop. There are too many great books to read without getting bogged down in the merely good ones.
  7. Engage in a weekly review and preview. Part of the reason our lives get out of control is because we don’t plan. Once a week, you have to come up for air. Or—to change the metaphor—you have to take the plane up to 30,000 feet, so you can see the big picture.I generally do this on Sunday evening. I review my notes from the previous week and look ahead to my calendar. I have written elsewhere on this topic, so I won’t repeat myself here.

You may not be able to reduce your workweek to four hours—and honestly, who would want to?—but you can certainly scale it down to a manageable level by cutting out the wasted motion and developing a few good habits.

What other tips have you discovered for trimming your work week?
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  • Octavio Heredia

    “There are too many great books to read without getting bogged down in the merely good ones.” – could you share your list of great books or a list of your must-haves in any personal library?

  • Octavio Heredia

    "There are too many great books to read without getting bogged down in the merely good ones." – could you share your list of great books or a list of your must-haves in any personal library?

  • http://www.leadHership.blogspot.com HEATHER PALACIOS

    Oh my gosh! This post is pure, fresh, (almost holy) oxygen! I’m taking it all in and I’m sharing it with those I do life with. Thank you!

  • http://www.leadHership.blogspot.com/ HEATHER PALACIOS

    Oh my gosh! This post is pure, fresh, (almost holy) oxygen! I'm taking it all in and I'm sharing it with those I do life with. Thank you!

  • BRG

    Fantastic. Thanks.

  • http://ectweb.blogspot.com Dr Shock

    I love this post, especially about the meetings will keep that in mind, regards Dr Shock

  • BRG

    Fantastic. Thanks.

  • MRL

    I’m very surprised that you have not given David Allen any mention in this article. It’s clear that several of the techniques listed are taken verbatim from GTD.

  • http://ectweb.blogspot.com/ Dr Shock

    I love this post, especially about the meetings will keep that in mind, regards Dr Shock

  • Nony

    Love the post, but have two questions:
    1) Does that time you spend planning on Sunday evening count as work? (If so: you don’t really know what to do with your free time, do you?)
    2) If your (Thomas Nelson’s) employees follow your advice, who owns the ten (or so) hours they save? a) Thomas Nelson, b) The employee, c) it depends on their rank and salary.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    You’re right. I didn’t credit David Allen here, but I have liberally mentioned him in numerous other posts. In fact, I mentioned him earlier this week.

  • Derrick4Real

    If I followed # 1…I wouldn’t have read this article…

    #2 is probably the most useful out of them all. (touching emails once)

    #4 is utterly obsurd in real life (stop attending meetings)

    Not “dumb” as someone stated…but certainly not realistic for most of corporate america

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Derrick,

    You might want to re-read both #1 and #4. I didn’t say, “stop surfing the Internet,” I simply suggested that you put some boundaries around it.

    Nor did I suggest that you “stop attending meetings.” I said, “stop attending low-impact meetings.“ Just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you have to attend. Even if you’re boss has asked you to attend, you can often get out of it if you explain how using your time in a different way can help better accomplish his or her goals for you.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • MRL

    I'm very surprised that you have not given David Allen any mention in this article. It's clear that several of the techniques listed are taken verbatim from GTD.

  • Nony

    Love the post, but have two questions:
    1) Does that time you spend planning on Sunday evening count as work? (If so: you don't really know what to do with your free time, do you?)
    2) If your (Thomas Nelson's) employees follow your advice, who owns the ten (or so) hours they save? a) Thomas Nelson, b) The employee, c) it depends on their rank and salary.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    You're right. I didn't credit David Allen here, but I have liberally mentioned him in numerous other posts. In fact, I mentioned him earlier this week.

  • Derrick4Real

    If I followed # 1…I wouldn't have read this article…

    #2 is probably the most useful out of them all. (touching emails once)

    #4 is utterly obsurd in real life (stop attending meetings)

    Not "dumb" as someone stated…but certainly not realistic for most of corporate america

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Derrick,

    You might want to re-read both #1 and #4. I didn't say, "stop surfing the Internet," I simply suggested that you put some boundaries around it.

    Nor did I suggest that you “stop attending meetings.” I said, "stop attending low-impact meetings.“ Just because you're invited, doesn't mean you have to attend. Even if you're boss has asked you to attend, you can often get out of it if you explain how using your time in a different way can help better accomplish his or her goals for you.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • MRL

    Michael,

    Thank you very much for addressing my comment. I am not a regular reader of yours, and thus I missed the assumed reference to Allen. I’ll be sure to check out some of your other posts.

  • Nick Dragon

    I completely agree with you about the amount of time wasted attending meetings. The majority of them only serve to self-validate some middle management’s position because everyone else is wondering what that person does on a daily basis to deserve that post to begin with.

    As far as books, I can see where your position requires you to read books that are less than what they could be, but for the rest of us I have to disagree. Taking the extra time to find a great book or series of books, and absorbing the reviews of others on those books will save a great deal of time in reading a bad one. I can honestly say I can count on one hand the number of bad books I’ve purchased and read in the past twenty odd years, where I’ve wished someone could give me my money back. Just lucky I guess.

  • MRL

    Michael,

    Thank you very much for addressing my comment. I am not a regular reader of yours, and thus I missed the assumed reference to Allen. I'll be sure to check out some of your other posts.

  • Nick Dragon

    I completely agree with you about the amount of time wasted attending meetings. The majority of them only serve to self-validate some middle management's position because everyone else is wondering what that person does on a daily basis to deserve that post to begin with.

    As far as books, I can see where your position requires you to read books that are less than what they could be, but for the rest of us I have to disagree. Taking the extra time to find a great book or series of books, and absorbing the reviews of others on those books will save a great deal of time in reading a bad one. I can honestly say I can count on one hand the number of bad books I've purchased and read in the past twenty odd years, where I've wished someone could give me my money back. Just lucky I guess.

  • http://dml.cs.byu.edu/~smitty Matt Smith

    Brilliant post! This is so very helpful in today’s society… and by the way, I ended up reading every word you wrote, as it maintained my interest. The content was very succinct and it appropriately linked to previously written content. Thanks!

  • http://dml.cs.byu.edu/~smitty Matt Smith

    Brilliant post! This is so very helpful in today's society… and by the way, I ended up reading every word you wrote, as it maintained my interest. The content was very succinct and it appropriately linked to previously written content. Thanks!

  • http://richrach.com/rich/ Richard

    It’s a good list, but I’d offer one kind of top level tip – keep a journal. I find myself automatically reviewing, deciding what’s important and what’s not, noting down things I must remember to do (like reply to emails I can’t do right away) and killing off quick tasks as I look back through mine. I think it’s also from Dave Allen that if you keep all this stuff in your head it tends to go round and round without being resolved. He advocates lists, but I don’t really think it matters in what form you get all this stuff out of your head and onto paper so long as you do. It sounds odd but, it helps you think everything through.

  • http://richrach.com/rich/ Richard

    It's a good list, but I'd offer one kind of top level tip – keep a journal. I find myself automatically reviewing, deciding what's important and what's not, noting down things I must remember to do (like reply to emails I can't do right away) and killing off quick tasks as I look back through mine. I think it's also from Dave Allen that if you keep all this stuff in your head it tends to go round and round without being resolved. He advocates lists, but I don't really think it matters in what form you get all this stuff out of your head and onto paper so long as you do. It sounds odd but, it helps you think everything through.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    The one drawback to #4 is mandatory low-impact meetings. I have to attend a staff meeting every Thursday that is utterly useless. I record my accomplishments on the weekly report, that same weekly report is read at the meeting, I repeat everything verbally for the 3rd time, then sit for an hour and a half while other people talk about what they did that week. The others in my group and I have tried to convince management that our participation is not required, but so far nobody else believes it.

    I love your comment on reading. I’ve been slow to learn that lesson, but it saves me a lot of time. I spent the last two years working on my degree, and I had a lot of magazines pile up in that time. Some deserve a more thorough reading (History Channel magazine) while others get a quick scan and go to the trash (Oct 2005 Computer Shopper).

  • Dravidian

    Great list! This is probably the first “time management tips” list that is practical and actually works.

    I agree totally with the scheduling time to get your own work done – you will quickly realize how other people infringe on your work day. People stopped wasting my time with unimportant things the day I started to tell them to come back later.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    The one drawback to #4 is mandatory low-impact meetings. I have to attend a staff meeting every Thursday that is utterly useless. I record my accomplishments on the weekly report, that same weekly report is read at the meeting, I repeat everything verbally for the 3rd time, then sit for an hour and a half while other people talk about what they did that week. The others in my group and I have tried to convince management that our participation is not required, but so far nobody else believes it.

    I love your comment on reading. I've been slow to learn that lesson, but it saves me a lot of time. I spent the last two years working on my degree, and I had a lot of magazines pile up in that time. Some deserve a more thorough reading (History Channel magazine) while others get a quick scan and go to the trash (Oct 2005 Computer Shopper).

  • Dravidian

    Great list! This is probably the first "time management tips" list that is practical and actually works.

    I agree totally with the scheduling time to get your own work done – you will quickly realize how other people infringe on your work day. People stopped wasting my time with unimportant things the day I started to tell them to come back later.

  • http://surefirewealth.com/blog/ Anita Danger

    Nice post and I agree with you. We forget some of these points and fall back into a routine, we need to reread this post and not return to bad habits. When I go to a mandatory meeting, it seems only about half the time you spend in them is necessary. I have learnt to tell them when I get there, I need to be some where at a certain time, this gives me the freedom to leave if I feel the most important information has been given and it also gives me the option to stay if I feel it is necessary.

  • http://surefirewealth.com/blog/ Anita Danger

    Nice post and I agree with you. We forget some of these points and fall back into a routine, we need to reread this post and not return to bad habits. When I go to a mandatory meeting, it seems only about half the time you spend in them is necessary. I have learnt to tell them when I get there, I need to be some where at a certain time, this gives me the freedom to leave if I feel the most important information has been given and it also gives me the option to stay if I feel it is necessary.

  • Dennis

    Michael,
    I started out saying that this was fine for managerial staff, then realized that it was even more important for people like me who have jobs that combine managerial and technical components. I don’t have time to touch things more than once and I really have to schedule time for various types of work. It’s easy to meet schedules based on customer calls, much harder to schedule for that internal customer, myself. I also have seen the need for journals, the memory is very hard to understand, and to sort out which things I’ll remember and which I won’t, well… it’s easier to keep a list.
    Thanks for putting these together.

  • Dennis

    Michael,
    I started out saying that this was fine for managerial staff, then realized that it was even more important for people like me who have jobs that combine managerial and technical components. I don't have time to touch things more than once and I really have to schedule time for various types of work. It's easy to meet schedules based on customer calls, much harder to schedule for that internal customer, myself. I also have seen the need for journals, the memory is very hard to understand, and to sort out which things I'll remember and which I won't, well… it's easier to keep a list.
    Thanks for putting these together.

  • http://www.bizdig.com/story.php?id=2584 bizdig.com

    How to Shave Ten Hours Off Your Work Week

    Almost everyone I know is working more time than they would like. What if you could shave ten hours off your work week? Virtually anyone, with a little thought and effort can do it. Here’s how:

  • http://www.creativesoulbydebmc.blogspot.com DebMc

    Terrific post! Creative folks like myself have a tendency to dither about too many things. One of my favorites in your list is to make appointments with yourself. I do this and it is so effective. I blogged about it myself a few months ago.

    I’ll be sharpening up my email and internet guidelines and adopting a bias toward action in order to shave a few precious hours off the must-do list and transfer them to the want-to list.

  • http://www.bizdig.com/story.php?id=2584 bizdig.com

    How to Shave Ten Hours Off Your Work Week

    Almost everyone I know is working more time than they would like. What if you could shave ten hours off your work week? Virtually anyone, with a little thought and effort can do it. Here’s how:

  • http://www.creativesoulbydebmc.blogspot.com/ DebMc

    Terrific post! Creative folks like myself have a tendency to dither about too many things. One of my favorites in your list is to make appointments with yourself. I do this and it is so effective. I blogged about it myself a few months ago.

    I'll be sharpening up my email and internet guidelines and adopting a bias toward action in order to shave a few precious hours off the must-do list and transfer them to the want-to list.

  • http://withoutlosingmymind.blogspot.com/ Brian Gill

    Thanks for this post, on two counts.

    1. It’s a manageable how-2 list, about something I’m trying to control better.

    2. You gave me something to post about today.

  • http://withoutlosingmymind.blogspot.com/ Brian Gill

    Thanks for this post, on two counts.

    1. It's a manageable how-2 list, about something I'm trying to control better.

    2. You gave me something to post about today.

  • Wambura Kimunyu

    As usual, excellent tips. Thanks.

    I’ve practised the “habit of non-finishing” for some time now but you’ve given me the vocabulary to define it.

    Having bought a book, I try to give it the benefit of doubt. But, I can tell by the time I get to the third chapter whether it’s worth finishing right there and then or not. If it’s a good book but not a great book, I place it “on the list”. I have a set of criteria for what constitutes, in my mind, a great book.

    When someone asks me why I haven’t yet read such and such book that everybody else has read, I say it’s “on the list.” I’ve a lot of good books “on the list” because I’m not done with the great books yet.

    I’m getting better at filtering at point of purchase, based on recommendations, reviews, etc, but that’s a method that’s not 100 per cent foolproof.

    I particularly love the two-minute rule. Never come across it before. Must try it.

  • Wambura Kimunyu

    As usual, excellent tips. Thanks.

    I've practised the "habit of non-finishing" for some time now but you've given me the vocabulary to define it.

    Having bought a book, I try to give it the benefit of doubt. But, I can tell by the time I get to the third chapter whether it's worth finishing right there and then or not. If it's a good book but not a great book, I place it "on the list". I have a set of criteria for what constitutes, in my mind, a great book.

    When someone asks me why I haven't yet read such and such book that everybody else has read, I say it's "on the list." I've a lot of good books "on the list" because I'm not done with the great books yet.

    I'm getting better at filtering at point of purchase, based on recommendations, reviews, etc, but that's a method that's not 100 per cent foolproof.

    I particularly love the two-minute rule. Never come across it before. Must try it.

  • http://www.blog.marketmou.com Patricia Skinner

    Notice how all the best ideas are pure common sense really? I agree with everything said here. Now to cultivate the self control necessary to implement it. :) Great blog Michael.

  • http://www.blog.marketmou.com/ Patricia Skinner

    Notice how all the best ideas are pure common sense really? I agree with everything said here. Now to cultivate the self control necessary to implement it. :) Great blog Michael.

  • http://usmlemd.wordpress.com sd

    I love this post. I have to read it carefully one more time. Yes, I agree that Internet is number one time killer. Sometimes I hate myself clicking and opening internet pages, not even reading them. Just pure waste of time. I made the 10 minutes rule, which is to open my 2 e-mails, facebook, and rlslog website for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. So far, it doesn’t work that well but it is getting better.

  • http://usmlemd.wordpress.com/ sd

    I love this post. I have to read it carefully one more time. Yes, I agree that Internet is number one time killer. Sometimes I hate myself clicking and opening internet pages, not even reading them. Just pure waste of time. I made the 10 minutes rule, which is to open my 2 e-mails, facebook, and rlslog website for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. So far, it doesn't work that well but it is getting better.

  • John

    I’d argue that this list conveys how to spend a greater percentage of your time on things that make a difference; it’s not really about spending less time at work.

    However, if you often put in extra hours without pay, then eliminating those less important tasks can help avoid staying late.

    If you don’t make a habit of staying late, I believe that will naturally force you to focus on the important tasks in front of you and cut out what will get in the way of completing those tasks.

  • John

    I'd argue that this list conveys how to spend a greater percentage of your time on things that make a difference; it's not really about spending less time at work.

    However, if you often put in extra hours without pay, then eliminating those less important tasks can help avoid staying late.

    If you don't make a habit of staying late, I believe that will naturally force you to focus on the important tasks in front of you and cut out what will get in the way of completing those tasks.

  • Brandon

    But I get paid HOURLY… This is all so POINTLESS! :)

  • Brandon

    But I get paid HOURLY… This is all so POINTLESS! :)

  • http://www.buildingchampions.com Dan Meub

    This is an excellent list. I particularly like #5 – Schedule time to get your work done. How often do we find ourselves “in” the flow of the business reviewing others’ work, going to meetings, responding to email, phone calls. Versus being “in” the business, we should schedule at least some portion of our week working “on” the business. And as Mike said, this On-Time should be thought of as a meeting with ourselves. We have an agenda, we don’t allow ourselves to be interrupted, we have desired end results, next steps, etcetera. I use these meetings as dedicated time to plan and work on permanent improvements to the business that otherwise I’d never get to (or I’d be doing that work late at night or on weekends – not!).

  • http://dewese.com david dewese

    A book publisher admitting most books aren’t worth reading. I love it! Great blog btw.

  • http://www.buildingchampions.com/ Dan Meub

    This is an excellent list. I particularly like #5 – Schedule time to get your work done. How often do we find ourselves "in" the flow of the business reviewing others' work, going to meetings, responding to email, phone calls. Versus being "in" the business, we should schedule at least some portion of our week working "on" the business. And as Mike said, this On-Time should be thought of as a meeting with ourselves. We have an agenda, we don't allow ourselves to be interrupted, we have desired end results, next steps, etcetera. I use these meetings as dedicated time to plan and work on permanent improvements to the business that otherwise I'd never get to (or I'd be doing that work late at night or on weekends – not!).

  • http://dewese.com/ david dewese

    A book publisher admitting most books aren't worth reading. I love it! Great blog btw.

  • http://www.stamp-connection.com Rubber Stamps

    Great info. Thanks for the publishing info.

  • http://www.stamp-connection.com/ Rubber Stamps

    Great info. Thanks for the publishing info.

  • http://www.insuremeblog.com/agent/2007/11/shave_10_hours_off_your_work_w.html InsureMe Agent Blog

    Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week (Seriously)

    If you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of Lifehacker around here. That’s because, from keyboard shortcuts to work productivity, this blog consistently delivers tips to help us do things faster. So when they pointed readers to an article entitled “How…

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    Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week (Seriously)

    If you haven't noticed, we're big fans of Lifehacker around here. That's because, from keyboard shortcuts to work productivity, this blog consistently delivers tips to help us do things faster. So when they pointed readers to an article entitled "How…

  • http://www.thebaldchemist.com The Baldchemist

    You know Michael , when work becomes or is such a bore that you need to shave any time off it then it’s time to change your vocation.
    We work with multi media and its hard for us to stop when we are having such a creatively fun time.
    Its not about working less is it? what is it that people want to retire from? Life?
    No my friend when you are having a great time with your “work”, then my experience tells me that the punters want a piece of what you are having.
    But thanks for the thoughts. The Baldchemist

  • http://www.thebaldchemist.com/ The Baldchemist

    You know Michael , when work becomes or is such a bore that you need to shave any time off it then it's time to change your vocation.
    We work with multi media and its hard for us to stop when we are having such a creatively fun time.
    Its not about working less is it? what is it that people want to retire from? Life?
    No my friend when you are having a great time with your "work", then my experience tells me that the punters want a piece of what you are having.
    But thanks for the thoughts. The Baldchemist

  • http://www.michaelsampson.net/2007/11/enterprise-co-9.html Effective Collaboration: Michael Sampson on Being Effective with Collaboration

    Enterprise Collaboration and Virtual Teams Report (November 20, 2007)

    The People Part of Enterprise Collaboration and Virtual Teams RSS in the Enterprise … James contemplates why RSS is so slow to be adopted in the enterprise. Key insight: “The other big issue is that for enterprise RSS to work

  • http://www.michaelsampson.net/2007/11/enterprise-co-9.html Effective Collaborat

    Enterprise Collaboration and Virtual Teams Report (November 20, 2007)

    The People Part of Enterprise Collaboration and Virtual Teams RSS in the Enterprise … James contemplates why RSS is so slow to be adopted in the enterprise. Key insight: "The other big issue is that for enterprise RSS to work

  • David Edmundson

    Excellent short but sweet list. #6 is one I have perfected. You are referring to Quiting, aren’t you?

  • David Edmundson

    Excellent short but sweet list. #6 is one I have perfected. You are referring to Quiting, aren't you?

  • http://www.ckurl.com/techblog/post/2007/11/Shave-ten-hours-off-your-week.aspx CK’s Tech Blog

    Shave ten hours off your

    Shave ten hours off your week

  • http://www.ckurl.com/techblog/post/2007/11/Shave-ten-hours-off-your-week.aspx CK's Tech Blog

    Shave ten hours off your

    Shave ten hours off your week

  • http://andrelegoh.typepad.com Andre Legoh

    The biggest challenge is to discipline yourself and/or employee.. Further tricks must be developed
    #1. I even limit some manager for sitting in front of computer when they come in the office in the morning. for instance. Planning is more effective (for some people) when they not facing the PC.
    #3. show to people and personally see how they do with the 2 minutes. Once they discover, they will try.. but again.. reminder is always important.
    #4. I try to stop my employee to make a low impact meeting
    #5. limit the timing. sometimes give extreme ly shortened timeframe. it works to get the skeleton works done.
    #7. is a must. but again if you fail to monitor it. more than 50% will not do it.
    Thx for the post

  • http://andrelegoh.typepad.com/ Andre Legoh

    The biggest challenge is to discipline yourself and/or employee.. Further tricks must be developed
    #1. I even limit some manager for sitting in front of computer when they come in the office in the morning. for instance. Planning is more effective (for some people) when they not facing the PC.
    #3. show to people and personally see how they do with the 2 minutes. Once they discover, they will try.. but again.. reminder is always important.
    #4. I try to stop my employee to make a low impact meeting
    #5. limit the timing. sometimes give extreme ly shortened timeframe. it works to get the skeleton works done.
    #7. is a must. but again if you fail to monitor it. more than 50% will not do it.
    Thx for the post

  • srinivas

    not reading mail more than once
    internet time
    cultivate the habint of not-finishing
    good one to follow

  • srinivas

    not reading mail more than once
    internet time
    cultivate the habint of not-finishing
    good one to follow

  • Sylvia

    Dear Mr Hyatt,

    I am Sylvia from China. I am currently working for my first job in China. Career life and university life are completely different, so I have felt frustrated since the first day. Gradually, I realize productivity is one of the most important competencies in the 21st century. Therefore, I start learning time management.

    I have visited your blog several times. It is very impressive! Thanks a lot for sharing so many productive tips with us. I even recommended your blog to several friends. All of us really like it!

    As I know you are the CEO of President and Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Nelson Publishers, you must be very busy all the time; however, you still have time to do those things you like, e.g. writing, golfing, fishing, and photography etc. We are all really curious about you. Could you please tell us something about your life? As a CEO, are you incredibly busy and holding dozens of meetings every day? When did you start using GTD, does it help a lot for your productivity?

    I am looking forward to reading your new article.

    Best wishes,

    Sylvia

  • Sylvia

    Dear Mr Hyatt,

    I am Sylvia from China. I am currently working for my first job in China. Career life and university life are completely different, so I have felt frustrated since the first day. Gradually, I realize productivity is one of the most important competencies in the 21st century. Therefore, I start learning time management.

    I have visited your blog several times. It is very impressive! Thanks a lot for sharing so many productive tips with us. I even recommended your blog to several friends. All of us really like it!

    As I know you are the CEO of President and Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Nelson Publishers, you must be very busy all the time; however, you still have time to do those things you like, e.g. writing, golfing, fishing, and photography etc. We are all really curious about you. Could you please tell us something about your life? As a CEO, are you incredibly busy and holding dozens of meetings every day? When did you start using GTD, does it help a lot for your productivity?

    I am looking forward to reading your new article.

    Best wishes,

    Sylvia

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.blogspot.com/ Tiffany Stuart

    Great tips. Plsn to apply many of them.

  • http://www.teawithtiffany.blogspot.com Tiffany Stuart

    Great tips. Plsn to apply many of them.

  • http://www.jeffwidman.com/blog Jeff Widman

    Fantastic post!

    How do you handle the two-minute actions that come at you all at once? I have things in a meeting come at me in bursts of 3-4 2-minute actions, but can't deal with them in the meeting.

    It's tedious to put them on a to-do list, so do you have a mini-to do list?

  • http://www.jeffwidman.com/blog Jeff Widman

    Fantastic post!

    How do you handle the two-minute actions that come at you all at once? I have things in a meeting come at me in bursts of 3-4 2-minute actions, but can’t deal with them in the meeting.

    It’s tedious to put them on a to-do list, so do you have a mini-to do list?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    @jeff: I write them in my Moleskine notebook and then transfer them to my main lists later—or, if I can just do them after the meeting, I do that. You might want to to read my post, The Lost Art of Notetaking.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    @jeff: I write them in my Moleskine notebook and then transfer them to my main lists later—or, if I can just do them after the meeting, I do that. You might want to to read my post, The Lost Art of Notetaking.

  • Matt

    In reference to the Baldchemist's post, and to support Michael's excellent comments, I would point out that even if you love your job, which I do (and I hope you do too), there are (hopefully also) other commitments in your life that need some attention – examples for me are:

    a) don't let work disrupt your family life (make sure they have enough time too – my wife and children are my no1 priority, even though I say "I love my job");

    b) don't let work disrupt your sleep/R&R time (this will make you healthier and keep your brain alive, making you more productive at work too):

    c) don't let work disrupt your hobbies ("all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy …" – your work will also benefit from having a life outside work) – for me this is currently about training for a marathon.

    When you love your job it is easy to get sucked into working an extra 10 (or more) hours, even when you have other important priorities – Michael's comments can help there.

  • Matt

    In reference to the Baldchemist’s post, and to support Michael’s excellent comments, I would point out that even if you love your job, which I do (and I hope you do too), there are (hopefully also) other commitments in your life that need some attention – examples for me are:

    a) don’t let work disrupt your family life (make sure they have enough time too – my wife and children are my no1 priority, even though I say “I love my job”);

    b) don’t let work disrupt your sleep/R&R time (this will make you healthier and keep your brain alive, making you more productive at work too):

    c) don’t let work disrupt your hobbies (“all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy …” – your work will also benefit from having a life outside work) – for me this is currently about training for a marathon.

    When you love your job it is easy to get sucked into working an extra 10 (or more) hours, even when you have other important priorities – Michael’s comments can help there.

  • MW Richardson

    Great post. New to site. Own many Thomas Nelson titles. I would add that as the boss, you have a responsibility to get to the root cause of the things that are preventing your employees from being as efficient as they can be. EG: #5 Stop attending low impact meetings. Ask yourself: “Why do these low impact meetings exist in the first place?” Once you arrive at the amswer to that question, ask why again. Keep asking why until you arrive at the root cause. Then and only then can you develop a corrective action that will permanently fix the problem. Whenever you are confronted with a less than optimal situation in the workplace, by all means, stop and fix it for yourself but then fix it for all the others whose time is being wasted. Get to the root cause.

  • MW Richardson

    Great post. New to site. Own many Thomas Nelson titles. I would add that as the boss, you have a responsibility to get to the root cause of the things that are preventing your employees from being as efficient as they can be. EG: #5 Stop attending low impact meetings. Ask yourself: "Why do these low impact meetings exist in the first place?" Once you arrive at the amswer to that question, ask why again. Keep asking why until you arrive at the root cause. Then and only then can you develop a corrective action that will permanently fix the problem. Whenever you are confronted with a less than optimal situation in the workplace, by all means, stop and fix it for yourself but then fix it for all the others whose time is being wasted. Get to the root cause.

  • http://www.tsuzanneeller.com Suzanne Eller

    I needed this, Michael. As a freelance writer and author and speaker, I spend too much time online, too much time on my to-do list, and not enough time scheduling my work. Thanks!

  • http://profile.typekey.com/1218236009s4731/ Eric S. Mueller

    Great reminder, Mike. When I saw this in your Twitter feed this morning, I assumed it was a new post. Then, reading through the comments, I saw that I left one. I tried to figure out how I could have left a comment on a new post, when I realized it was from last year. Again, great reminder, especially the tip about books.

  • http://www.tsuzanneeller.com/ Suzanne Eller

    I needed this, Michael. As a freelance writer and author and speaker, I spend too much time online, too much time on my to-do list, and not enough time scheduling my work. Thanks!

  • http://profile.typekey.com/1218236009s4731/ Eric S. Mueller

    Great reminder, Mike. When I saw this in your Twitter feed this morning, I assumed it was a new post. Then, reading through the comments, I saw that I left one. I tried to figure out how I could have left a comment on a new post, when I realized it was from last year. Again, great reminder, especially the tip about books.

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim Martin

    This is an outstanding post! Very helpful. I have read your blog for quite sometime but have never commented until today.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.godhungry.org/ Jim Martin

    This is an outstanding post! Very helpful. I have read your blog for quite sometime but have never commented until today.

    Thanks!

  • http://matthewsnyder.theworldrace.org Matthew Snyder

    This is very helpful, thanks Michael.

  • http://matthewsnyder.theworldrace.org/ Matthew Snyder

    This is very helpful, thanks Michael.

  • http://www.persuasive.net AJ Kumar

    wow great article. #1 is powerful although a lot of my work researching is generally done online :)

  • http://www.persuasive.net/ AJ Kumar

    wow great article. #1 is powerful although a lot of my work researching is generally done online :)

  • http://www.michaeldmiller.wordpress.com/ michael miller

    Great post Mike excellent advise I am going to try it…!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Brad_Zickafoose Brad_Zickafoose

    Michael,

    I found something today that helps keep the mindless surfing on the internet to a minimum and only at predetermined times of day. It especially works well for people who do business over the internet (like myself).

    It's called LeechBlock and it's a plugin for Firefox (sorry Safari and IE users). Basically it is a "simple productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them."

    Not quite sure why they named it LeechBlock. Something like Net Nanny would seem to be more intuitive.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Brad_Zickafoose Brad_Zickafoose

    Here is a link to the plug-in.
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/44

  • http://www.michaeldmiller.wordpress.com/ michael miller

    Great post Mike excellent advise I am going to try it…!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Brad_Zickafoose Brad_Zickafoose

    Michael,

    I found something today that helps keep the mindless surfing on the internet to a minimum and only at predetermined times of day. It especially works well for people who do business over the internet (like myself).

    It's called LeechBlock and it's a plugin for Firefox (sorry Safari and IE users). Basically it is a "simple productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them."

    Not quite sure why they named it LeechBlock. Something like Net Nanny would seem to be more intuitive.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Brad_Zickafoose Brad_Zickafoose

    Here is a link to the plug-in.
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/44

  • http://www.twitter.com/switchinggranny Martha

    Thanks for re posting this Michael. Because I'd not read it previously, so many really good tips. Although I am disabled from work your ideas will help me manage my time better in my new life of serving others. It is even easier for me to procrastinate and loose time especially online, then inertia really does set in.

    The Word of God says we should redeem the time. Thank you for helping me find ways to redeem this precious time.. work or home.

  • http://www.twitter.com/switchinggranny Martha

    Thanks for re posting this Michael. Because I'd not read it previously, so many really good tips. Although I am disabled from work your ideas will help me manage my time better in my new life of serving others. It is even easier for me to procrastinate and loose time especially online, then inertia really does set in.

    The Word of God says we should redeem the time. Thank you for helping me find ways to redeem this precious time.. work or home.

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  • http://www.fill-my-cup.com/blogthebook.htm Julie Poplawski

    Very Nice Post I got some functional ideas but when I found you I was mindlessly surfing twitter.. uh oh what will I MISS!??!?!?

  • http://www.fill-my-cup.com/blogthebook.htm Julie Poplawski

    Very Nice Post I got some functional ideas but when I found you I was mindlessly surfing twitter.. uh oh what will I MISS!??!?!?

  • http://www.courageoussingleparenting.blogspot.com/ Scoti Domeij

    How did you add this {Hello there Facebook friend! If you like this article, please help spread the word by sharing this post with your friends.} to your blog?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It is a WordPress plug in called "WP Greet Box." It displays a different message, depending on where you were right before you arrived to my blog.

  • http://www.courageoussingleparenting.blogspot.com/ Scoti Domeij

    How did you add this {Hello there Facebook friend! If you like this article, please help spread the word by sharing this post with your friends.} to your blog?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It is a WordPress plug in called "WP Greet Box." It displays a different message, depending on where you were right before you arrived to my blog.

  • http://www.rachelhauck.com/ Rachel Hauck

    Great tips Mike. As a writer, I don't attend many pointless meetings, but I do get side tracked by email and goofing around on Facebook and Twitter. I tell myself it's marketing, which at the core it is, but surfing a new "friends" photo album isn't really necessary when I should be working.

    I used to be more disciplined when I worked in an office but have slipped some as an "at home" worker.

    I think too for a writer, we are home alone all day and all we have is email, Facebook, Twitter to "talk" to as our cyber office chums.

    So far, I get my work done but I'd like to manage my time better.

    Blessings to you so much for being such a light and encourager to so many! God has gifted you and you're using the talent He gave you.

    Rachel

  • http://www.rachelhauck.com Rachel Hauck

    Great tips Mike. As a writer, I don't attend many pointless meetings, but I do get side tracked by email and goofing around on Facebook and Twitter. I tell myself it's marketing, which at the core it is, but surfing a new "friends" photo album isn't really necessary when I should be working.

    I used to be more disciplined when I worked in an office but have slipped some as an "at home" worker.

    I think too for a writer, we are home alone all day and all we have is email, Facebook, Twitter to "talk" to as our cyber office chums.

    So far, I get my work done but I'd like to manage my time better.

    Blessings to you so much for being such a light and encourager to so many! God has gifted you and you're using the talent He gave you.

    Rachel

  • http://www.billwhitt.com/blog Bill Whitt

    Wow, great tips!

  • http://www.billwhitt.com/blog Bill Whitt

    Wow, great tips!

  • http://spiritualflow.weebly.com/ Jared Bowie

    I appreciate your post Mr. Hyatt!

    It will greatly help me in college and in my future ministry role!

    God bless!

    Jared

  • http://spiritualflow.weebly.com Jared Bowie

    I appreciate your post Mr. Hyatt!

    It will greatly help me in college and in my future ministry role!

    God bless!

    Jared

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  • Gail

    Here's some more tips. I like to ask myself these questions when review my week ahead:

    * Do I really have to do this? If I don't what will happen? Will anyone be impacted? Will anyone even notice? (Good one especially for reports as often we spend hours writing reports and updates that no one reads).

    * How can I work smarter not harder? Is there a quicker way to get this done that will still provide the RIGHT level of quality? Do they REALLY want a twenty page document or will twenty words for that report?

    * Is this deadline fixed or flexible? People often pick deadlines from thin air so when it collides with other deadlines you have you end up with extra stress but those imposing the deadlines don't really care if it's done on time.

    * What's the desired outcome for this activity? Can I still achieve that by doing things differently? I.e. do we need a three hour meeting or would 4 emails do?

    # I've also learnt that short brain storming session work better. If you give yourself 7 minutes to come up with Ideas the pressure often produces better results than a full day brainstorming day.

  • Gail

    Here's some more tips. I like to ask myself these questions when review my week ahead:

    * Do I really have to do this? If I don't what will happen? Will anyone be impacted? Will anyone even notice? (Good one especially for reports as often we spend hours writing reports and updates that no one reads).

    * How can I work smarter not harder? Is there a quicker way to get this done that will still provide the RIGHT level of quality? Do they REALLY want a twenty page document or will twenty words for that report?

    * Is this deadline fixed or flexible? People often pick deadlines from thin air so when it collides with other deadlines you have you end up with extra stress but those imposing the deadlines don't really care if it's done on time.

    * What's the desired outcome for this activity? Can I still achieve that by doing things differently? I.e. do we need a three hour meeting or would 4 emails do?

    # I've also learnt that short brain storming session work better. If you give yourself 7 minutes to come up with Ideas the pressure often produces better results than a full day brainstorming day.

  • Meme

    But for those of us who get paid by the project, GOD BLESS THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE!

  • Meme

    But for those of us who get paid by the project, GOD BLESS THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE!

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  • http://www.xilfee.eu Fiona Kitchen

    Marvellous post!
    As a business owner, homeworker, wife, mother and teacher at that (I home school), I'm going to print this off and glue it over my desk – never shall I waste another moment!

  • http://www.xilfee.eu/ Fiona Kitchen

    Marvellous post!
    As a business owner, homeworker, wife, mother and teacher at that (I home school), I'm going to print this off and glue it over my desk – never shall I waste another moment!

  • http://www.sperlingsinafrica.com Chris Sperling

    Excellent material Michael. I really appreciate what you have to say as it is to the point and relevant — even to my work here in Uganda as an agricultural missionary. Blessings. The key to all our time management is that we will one day give account to our Maker. Let’s use our time to do good, help others do good and to fight evil and lastly — to enjoy our Heavenly Father who IS Good.

  • http://www.sperlingsinafrica.com/ Chris Sperling

    Excellent material Michael. I really appreciate what you have to say as it is to the point and relevant — even to my work here in Uganda as an agricultural missionary. Blessings. The key to all our time management is that we will one day give account to our Maker. Let's use our time to do good, help others do good and to fight evil and lastly — to enjoy our Heavenly Father who IS Good.

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  • Rohi Shetty

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks, great post. The tips on surfing the Web and handling email are particularly helpful.
    My recent post The Bookshelf Muse: A MYSTERY Followers Contest!

  • Rohi Shetty

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks, great post. The tips on surfing the Web and handling email are particularly helpful.
    My recent post The Bookshelf Muse: A MYSTERY Followers Contest!

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  • Farhana

    I was feeling pretty depressed when I came across your blog. It helped me feel better. You writing shows a certain depth of thought that I don't come across often, and it was very meaningful for me to read them

  • Farhana

    I was feeling pretty depressed when I came across your blog. It helped me feel better. You writing shows a certain depth of thought that I don't come across often, and it was very meaningful for me to read them

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  • Shadi

    Look!

    It's hard but not THAT hard!!

  • Shadi

    Look!
    It’s hard but not THAT hard!!

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  • Franklin Roop

    Michael,
    Number 6 gave me some valuable advice. I read a lot of books. I have always felt when i started one I
    needed to read it to the end. I have felt guilty not finishing it. I am going to try to take your advice.
    Franklin Roop

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/chosenrebel chosenrebel

    Thanks for a helpful post for me and for all the men I mentor. Good stuff.

  • http://theincarnate.blogspot.com Matt Stephens

    Michael,

    In your experience, can staying "connected" via mobile devices (e.g., smartphones) increase overall productivity, personally and professionally? What about with regard to email, which constrains you less and less to the desk? I'm still essentially constrained to the desk, and am considering how far to delve into the mobile tech. world, and I want to make decisions that will maximize my efficiency w/o sacrificing the quality of my interactions with others (face-to-face).

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. However, like anything else, you have to use it and not become a slave to it.

  • http://www.affiliatemarketingcoursesreviewed.com Timothy

    Great tips. I especially like the one talking about the weekly review. I think that really helps to help you focus each week on what really needs to get done.

    Another tip that has helped me to stay productive is to focus on the most important tasks that need to get done each week.

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  • Brad

    I just started doing a weekly review. It has been a big help. I started using some of the Agile results principles for the top 3 and that has helped me clarify what results I really want to achieve.
    http://gettingresults.com/wiki/Knowledge_Base

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  • Dannie

    Loved the post, thank you.  Just another note on Tim Ferriss – much of what he recommends is very self serving and doesn’t allow for taking care of relationships in the work world.  I like a few of his ideas, but mostly I was turned off by his selfish attitude in his book.  The list you posted is very do able – my favorite is the two minute rule.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I so appreciate your posts, Mike, especially the practical ones like this. Though I’m pretty mad you read my email, so to speak, and knew my weaknesses so keenly!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I give this presentation live, too. It is one of my most popular—I guess because it is a universal need.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        And I appreciate you saying that a four hour workweek is a little unattainable.

        I’d love to see this live.

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  • http://savoringtoday.com Judy @Savoring Today

    I heard some of these same tips 20 years ago from Jim Rohn, it still applies. Thanks for the reminder :)

  • Anonymous

    Great post.  Thanks, Michael!

  • Rob Sorbo

    Good list. Unfortunately, I am an hourly worker, so if I shave 10 hours off of my week I will have to start skipping meals (though that probably couldn’t hurt me!)

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  • Lee

    Great post Michaell, thanks also for sharing some of your tips. This is how I manage working hours. I personally use this tool which I list my entire task for the day. Organize it form with the highest priority level down to less priority. Set an amount of time to do each task and eagerly follow. Discipline helps a lot in order to keep me on track and finish the work on time. Self discipline determination and with the help of some tools this way I would say that I’m more productive.

  • Jodybooks

    This is wonderful advice as I write/revise/plan my goals for 2012. Thank you!

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  • Rob Sorbo

    Unfortunately, most weeks I could do my job in under 10 hours a week, but I still have to be here 40.

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  • Olga

    Thank you so much for sharing those great tips. This  greatly applies to me as my goal has been to find better ways to better manage my time.
    I have learned to set invisible timers in most of what I do. This has helped to make me aware how much time I was wasting in the day. It has greatly helped in the way that I complete my daily tasks.
    Low impact meetings or “leeches”as I refer to them does steals a great chunk of our day. I will ask to be excused as most times my input was not needed.
    Thanks for the tips. I will add it to those that I have learned and I know this will shave off even more hours off my work week.

  • http://illuminaconsulting.com.au/ David

    The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss is a must read book for those who want to manage their working time.Some means of managing or shave ten hours off your work week is shared here and it is definitely worthy.

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  • Mister Charlie

    For those of us that travel, 36,000 feet is a great time to do your 30,000 foot work. I shun in flight wifi, discharge the laptop, then put on some light music and:

    Dream about the year ahead

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  • Jody

    Every one of your posts is so helpful! Thank you for giving of yourself so consistently. You are making a positive impact in many lives .

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jody.

  • http://twitter.com/luthercale Luther Cale

    I start every day by writing the 3 most important things (MITs) on an index cards. I make sure I do those 3 things come hell or high water. Anything else is gravy. That’s more than 1,000 very important things in any given year to push my life where I want it go. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great way to look at it—1,000 things. I like it!

  • http://twitter.com/WealthyFamilies Hilary Martin, CFP®

    My best practice to add hours to the week is to have a list of 5 top priorities for each week, and to focus relentlessly on those. In this way, my attention is on what’s most important for my business, and not the agenda created for me by other people which shows up reliably in my email inbox.

  • http://www.writeanonfictionbook.com/ Bobbi Linkemer

    Very sensible stuff, even for a one-man (woman) band. Not a lot of meetings, but much of the other advice is applicable. Thanks to Bob Baker for leading me to this blog.

  • http://brianbbaker.com/about/ Brian B Baker

    This is a wonderful post. Number 7 is the one I’m going to try in the next few weeks. I already do some of the others, but number 7 is a great one.

  • Kirsten

    I made the rule to only answer emails once a day (usually in the morning) and return calls once a day (usually in the afternoon). If I don’t set specific times I could literally spend pockets of time throughout the day responding and that really adds up. :)

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  • http://brianjdixon.com/ Dr. Brian J. Dixon

    One more tip is to “Carpe Di Commute.” Most people zone out to and from work instead of using this time to plan and reflect. I talk about this in my video here: http://youtu.be/Tmt9pFpvGXI

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love you naming this, “Carpe Di Commute”!