How To Maximize Your Time – Add 1.5 Extra hours of free time… and at LEAST 2 Extra hours of productivity, to your day:
I mentioned last week how I’m REALLY buried with work right now.
And so one of the things I seriously needed to do was clean up any inefficiencies in my use of time.
I’ve tried this before, without much success. I had LOTS of starts and stops, trying this and that… and I only wound up moving one step forward and two steps backwards.
But I finally figured something out that’s given me two extra hours of productivity each day, AND almost two extra hours of free time.
And yes, I’m serious. And yes, you can easily do this same thing. It’s a “low stress” process, which is what I’m all about, nowadays.
Here’s the deal.
Like most people I know — e-mail is an absolute killer for me. No matter how many times I say I’m not going to check it, it never happens.
And then, when I do check it… it becomes an endless spider web of “reply”… “Reply All”… click this link to go to this page… oh, here’s another article to read… and then this article has a link to another article… wow who sang that song… and on and on and on.
Then you get up to use the toilet. But before you go, you check to see if you got any other e-mails coming in.
When you come back, you sit down. Any orders? Any news?
Oh… My… God. This… is insanity.
Sure, if I was a stay at home mom, and the kids were off at school… I could afford to do this.
But I’m not.
Plus, when you combine this with all the time it takes you to stop and start and get back on track… I realized if I didn’t fix this soon, I’d be working forever.
Well, I figured out a way of managing my e-mails, that literally saves me almost two free hours a day – free time I now use for myself. And… I am also getting another two hours of productive time in there.
Here’s what I did: Now bear in mind… I have a Mac, so what I’m talking about may not be exactly what you can do, if you have another operating system.
There are 4 big things I did differently this time, that made this work.
For starters, I am only checking e-mail once or twice a day. And not on my cell phone, just once or twice a day on my Mac.
Here’s the first “big thing:” I took my Mac Mail off my dock. Completely.
In other words, if I want to check my mail, I have to put some effort into it. I have to go into my applications folder (or call Mail up on Alfred)… wait for the program to load… wait for the e-mails to download… and THEN check my mail.
This is important, because if your mailbox isn’t right there in front of you… then neither is the temptation to check it.
The second “big thing” I did, was… I make sure one of those times I’m checking my e-mail, IS NOT first thing in the morning. This is contrary to what everyone tells you to do.
You see, I’m wide awake and raring to go first thing in the morning. Which means I have high-capacity for productivity.
So why would I waste all that time on something with close to a zero ROI value, like checking e-mails?
That’s just not smart.
So I never check e-mail until sometime after noon, or sometimes not even until the next day.
And now, when I find an article to read… I save it to Instapaper, so I can read it later. And sometimes, the article never gets read, because it’s not important to me, by the time I get around to reading it on Instapaper.
You see, what happens when you’re working with the Pomodoro System (my third “big thing”), you’re so focused on “getting your task done before the clock runs out”… the last thing you want to do is interrupt this with e-mail checking.
The Pomodoro program I use, is http://orkanizer.com, but there are lots of them online for you to choose from.
But what really makes all this work, is “Big Thing” #4 — my reward system. You see, I wanted to do something for me, in all of this.
So what I figured, is this. For every two Pomodoro cycles I complete, I reward myself with a half hour of free time. During this time, I can do anything I want — read (which is what I usually do)… play guitar (which I do when I ‘save up’ two half-hour rewards)… go for a walk… drop a fishing line in the lake… whatever I want.
And this has been HUGE for me.
Now you may be asking, “Why are you taking time off, if you want to work more?”
And, the answer is simple: When I’m working like this, my productivity is SO much higher… and when you add to that, the time I’m now getting to “recharge” my batteries… I’m now SO much more mentally healthy, and SO much more relaxed — my work is that much smoother.
It just makes total sense, putting all this together.
My time becomes even MORE productive, because I’m no longer chasing the clock, “hoping” I can get this done or that done.
It’s kind of like the difference between working out in the morning (which I do), versus working out in the afternoon.
When you wait to work out in the afternoon, you spend a good portion of your day, with this obligation bearing down on you, more and more as time goes on.
This turns what should be a relaxing activity, into just another “to do” on your list, which isn’t good.
I’m all for more relaxation and less stress. And when you combine this with more productivity and more efficiency… for me, this has been a big win. And when you’ve been at something for a while, and can still find a big win… that’s like magic.
Have a great weekend.
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
listening to: Strange Roads – The Action (1967)