I have a confession.
Sometimes I begin my day with real purpose, real ferocity. Other days, my day is governed by pure chance. It could be the timing of a phone call that I chose to answer or my willingness to open my email inbox and see what fires might lay there waiting for me, all before I have spent my very valuable morning time doing something that really matters.
One of the influences on my thinking is Timothy Ferris. He is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, a book that has changed my life and has changed millions of others’ lives through his blog, his books, and his podcast.
Tired of working 90 hours a week feeling like you are going nowhere? He talks about that. Feel like you are babysitting clients who couldn’t care less and aren’t making you any money? Yep, he talks about that, too. Not to mention wild and crazy adventures, including becoming a tango champion in Argentina and a kickboxing champion in China.
I am sure there are people who first hear the name of the book who say something like, “Wow, that will never happen.” Hmmm.
Well, probably not with that attitude!
I have shared this book and purchased it for a number of people #yourewelcometferriss… and it has made such a great impact on my life.
Just in case you aren’t getting what I am putting down here, I’ll spell it out for you: It’s NOT about the 4 hours per week. It’s about the ACTION we take. It’s about owning the life that we have and putting into place the things in our lives we desire most, whether it is extended travel, a new car, or simply time to live abroad with your family, learning a language.
There were a few things in the book that really caught my attention and after thinking through them, they made me change the way I did things in my business and personal life. Some things were adapted, and some things were just fun, and some made a profound impact on my daily routine.
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3 Clever Life Hacks to Help Reclaim Valuable Free Time
1. Stop checking email when you first wake up (especially on your cell phone).
Not checking email first thing is life changing. There are always things in your email inbox that are waiting for your attention. And the thing is, I’ve seen people even post the number of email messages that are unread as badges of honor.
You think I want 203,408 messages in there? No way!
I am not always good about this, but I try to batch my email. I do check it sometimes when I am waiting on something I am really excited about, like a new bid on a HVAC unit (tell me it isn’t sexy to save $134 on a new 95% efficient one… go post that on #twitter and watch them go wild!). 🙂
But seriously, you don’t need to check it every ten minutes either. You know why? It’s not necessary. You have trained yourself to believe you need to because you have this thin object that you can access at any time. I just Googled cell phone statistics and ran across a Pew Research Study finding that “67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating” and “29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as ‘something they can’t imagine living without.'”
Timothy Ferriss suggests you have an autoresponder on your email that lets people know you will be messaging them back at this and this time each day. I personally got tired of the autoresponder, but I instead generally check emails after coffee in the morning and before the gym at noon.
Like I said, I am not always good at this, but it is what I strive for.
Also, just as a side note: STOP RECEIVING ALL THOSE ADS to you email account. It’s just crap you don’t need from people who don’t care.
Banana Republic, I love your shirts. But… unsubscribe. And Orbitz, I love me a good travel deal. Click… unsubscribe. I swear, my wife gets like 1,000 of these kinds of messages a day. You could have a full time job just opening and looking at crap you don’t want in your email.
The other thing I do is I will read a message quickly and mark it unread. Then in the afternoon, when I grab my (2nd or 3rd) coffee and a tasty treat, I can bang out responses to the messages pretty quickly while listening to tunes and drinking a cup of joe. I can save a TON of time with this method.
2. Batch everything.
This was really a new concept for me. It hit me like a freight train.
I use it in my music, in my real estate, in my chores at home; whatever it is, I want to figure out how to batch it. Put all the tasks that go together, and in a given time, bang them out. Make a to do list and do them.
Tim talks about how the days or weeks before vacations, we are able to be so productive because we are laser focused on the tasks at hand. Guess what, you can do that all the time. Laser focus your energy on NOT doing emails 100 times a day (or checking your Facebook account for the three-hundred-and-fourty-seventh-time), and you have a ton of time to do things like go to the gym, be with your family/children/friends, go to lunch, go view properties, learn something or take a nap. Whatever.
Things you can batch include grocery shopping, work (at work), work (at home), emails, social media for business (post via Hootsuite and schedule your entire week in 30 minutes… I do!). Those are just a few. Whatever you do, ask yourself if you are doing it a bunch of times a day. If you are, stop and do it during a delegated time of the day (or 2 or 3). You’re welcome.
You don’t have “time” for the gym… now you do! Stop checking your Facebook 50 times a day. That will probably get the 30-60 minutes you need.
3. Re-set and re-peat: make decisions that matter.
One of the things I love that Timothy Ferriss talks about — and that really hit home for me (and was life changing) — was decision fatigue. Think about this: if you wake up in the morning and have to decide what you’re wearing, and then what you’re eating for breakfast, and then what you’re doing that day, and then where you need to go, and then make an appointment, and then see if they are available… yikes.
Get the idea here? It’s now 9 a.m., and you’re already tired with all the decisions you’ve had to make that did NOTHING for your business, your family, your work, your productivity for the day.
Make decisions that MATTER, and put others on autopilot. I have my alarm for certain days already set. You can have multiple alarms for different days and times. Breakfast? I have the same 2-3 things every day. Why? I don’t have to think about it, and I enjoy eating them. Simple, healthy, no brain power needed.
Grocery store? Have the list made with what you are eating. We have a revolving number of things we eat for dinner each week. Chores at home? Work out a simple schedule with your spouse. Properties to view? I have a schedule for that, too. My desk? I put things away every single day, so I know when I get back into the office, I can find what I am looking for.
What does this do for us? Leaving basic everyday things on rinse and repeat means we have the brain power for the decisions that matter, like how much to offer on a house, or where we should travel next for our couple weekend getaway, or how to deal with a difficult issue with a tenant or a business partner.
Now is the Time
Given that 2015 is just days away, now is the time we are all making a list of things we want to change, or do, or not do, or be in 2015.
This is your opportunity to put some things on autopilot and put that time into something amazing for you, your family, your business, the world. Seriously, think of what you could do with just an hour a day. That’s 365 hours or 15 days worth of time do something awesome in one year.
Will you implement these time hacks into your routine in the coming year? What are YOU going to use your new found time for?
Leave me a comment below, and let’s talk!