How To Free Up Two Hours In Your Day
How to spend less time on email, meetings, and more.
The idea that there’s not enough time in the day is a lie.
The truth is we have plenty of time to do what we want, but don’t pay close enough attention to how we spend (and waste) that time.
The idea of freeing up two hours of your time in a typical work day may seem daunting, but it’s actually not that difficult if you think about it in a different way.
To free up two hours of your work day, all you have to do is free up 15 minutes of every hour.
The best way to do that is to look at the activities you spend most of your time doing and figure out how you can shave a little bit of time off of them.
Here are a few ways to start…
Spend Less Time On Email
We spend more time on email than we realize because we dip in and out of it constantly throughout the day. All those little “adventures” add up.
The obvious way to cut back on email time is to check it fewer times a day, but let’s be honest: You already know that and it’s unlikely you’re actually going to do that.
So here are a few other ways you can escape your inbox and free up 15 minutes…
• Unsubscribe from stuff you don’t care about.
Every email you get — even the ones you ignore —is a time suck.
You have to see what it is, get distracted by it, and potentially delete it. There’s no reason to give your time to things you don’t care about so get rid of them.
• Use canned responses.
Chances are there are questions you get asked often or requests that come your way that require the same response every time.
Draft your typical answer so you can just cut and paste them when needed (or use Gmail’s canned response feature) to save time and not have to reinvent the wheel every time somebody asks the same question.
• Send fewer emails.
The more emails you send, the more responses you get, and the more of your time you give away.
Only send emails when you absolutely have to — the best way to cut down on incoming email is to limit your outgoing email.
• Write short emails.
When you do send an email, the chances are you don’t need to send a long one.
Keep it as short and to the point as possible. By doing so, you’ll not only save yourself time, but you’ll also save time for the recipient (and make them more likely to actually open/read/respond to your emails in the future).
(Btw, here’s the best auto-reply email I’ve ever seen.)
Spend Less Time In Meetings
This just in: Most meetings are a colossal waste of time and the ones that aren’t are still likely twice as long as they need to be.
The good news is that since meetings are so loaded with wasted time, they’re one of the easiest places to free up time for yourself.
Here are a few ways to do that…
• Reduce the default time of your meetings by 15 minutes (at least).
You know why most meetings are scheduled for an hour?
Because that’s the default setting on most calendar apps. God, that’s dumb.
The easiest way to save yourself 15 minutes (or more) is to reduce the scheduled time allotted for every meeting when it’s first scheduled.
You won’t lose anything by doing so — there’s nothing you will accomplish in a 60-minute meeting that you can’t accomplish in a 45-minute meeting.
• Always have an agenda.
A meeting without an agenda is a meeting destined to waste time.
• Limit recurring meetings.
Does your department really need to have a weekly meeting where everybody just shares an update of what they’re doing to prove their worth to the boss and everybody else?
Couldn’t that just be an email update? Or a bi-weekly meeting? Or be scheduled only when it’s necessary as opposed to assuming it’s necessary every week?
Most recurring meetings don’t need to happen as often as they’re scheduled.
• Start on time.
The first 10 minutes of just about every group meeting (and especially every conference call) tend to be spent with people waiting around for others to actually show up.
No wonder meetings are scheduled for longer than they need to be.
Start when the meeting’s scheduled to start and if people aren’t there, that’s their problem.
When you make a habit of starting on time, something magical happens: People start to show up on time.
• Try the Amazon memo tactic.
Meetings at Amazon often begin with the attendees silently reading a six-page memo that’s been prepared by the meeting organizer to give everybody context for the meeting and focus the discussion that follows not on just sharing information, but on actually moving things forward.
It ensures meetings are productive, removes the time spent with general updates (that most people ignore anyway), and ultimately saves time.
(Btw, here’s how I mastered time management in 10 minutes a day.)
Spend Less Time On Social Media
Whether you’re using it for business or pleasure, social media can be a huge time suck if you allow it to be.
Here are a few ways to free up some of your social media time make the time you do spend with it more effective in the process…
• Stop using one (or more) social media platforms.
Every social channel you use for your business requires an additional time commitment to manage if you hope to get any actual benefit from it.
This means managing accounts on multiple channels does one of two things: It either requires a greater time investment on your part, or requires you to spread yourself too thin in the limited time you have available to give to social media management.
Ironically, one of the best things you can do for your social media strategy is to be on fewer platforms.
The fewer platforms you have to manage, the more time you’re able to focus on the ones you use, and the more likely you are to find success.
Cutting back on the number of platforms you use is also a great way to free up some time in your day.
• Set a time limit for your social media use.
Time flies when you’re scrolling your feed.
If you spend a lot of time on social media for personal use during the day, it’s easy to get hooked and lose track of how much time you spend on it.
To free up some time, set a timer and be intentional with how much time you want to give to social media.
Create a limit, monitor your use, and for the love of god turn off all notifications (!!!) so you don’t allow the networks to lure you back in outside of your scheduled time.
Spend Less Time At Work
Your work day doesn’t actually start when you arrive at the office. It starts when you decide to go to work and ends when you decide to leave.
This also means one of the easiest ways to free up time in your day is to steal 15 minutes from the time you arrive to work in the morning, the time you leave for lunch, the time you return from lunch, and the time you leave at the end of the day.
Those four minor adjustments will free up an HOUR of your day and have zero impact on the overall quality of your work.
Actually, I take that back. It will have an impact on the quality of your work — it will make it better.
Because just like all of the suggestions I’ve made above, by freeing up two hours of your work day you’ll be able to reinvest and repurpose that time toward things that make you more productive, effective, and impactful.
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