This is Part II of a two-part post on how to increase your free time every week to get the things that really matter done. If you missed Part I, you can read it by clicking here.
“There is nothing less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” –Peter Drucker
Most of us have goals we'd love to accomplish and experiences we'd love to have (more time for things we love or with people we love, a new skill, a passion project, an online business, etc.), but we don't think we have enough time to make them happen.
In Part I, we talked about how you can! All it takes is identifying what really matters to you, focusing your energy in that direction, and minimizing or eliminating everything else.
Strategies #1-5 were:
- Schedule Time Blocks
- Refuse, Delegate, & Outsource
- Use Your Weekends
- Work from Home
- Change Jobs
Let's jump back into it!
6. Use 80/20 Analysis
The Pareto Principle, created by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, states that for many events, 80% of the effects result from 20% of the causes. This has been proven in many areas including, but not limited to:
- Sales (80% of sales come from 20% of your clients)
- Wealth & Income Distribution (80% of global wealth owned by 20% of population)
- Healthcare (80% of healthcare resources are used by 20% of the population)
- Software (Microsoft reported that 80% of system errors and crashes could be eliminated by fixing 20% of the related bugs)
- Sports (20% of sportsmen participate in 80% of big competitions and out of them, 20% win 80% of the awards)
- Crime (80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals)
The same is true for your productivity- 20% of the tasks you complete produce 80% of your desired results. The key is to figure out what those tasks are, spend as much time as possible doing those tasks, and minimize or eliminate the rest.
7. Change The Time & Length of Your Workouts
Time of Day
Fitness is a critical component of our physical and mental health- and as a result, our productivity. But if you're like most young professionals, when you work out, you probably work out after work.
The problem here is that it takes too much time in the evening. By the time you get around to making dinner or eating, it's almost time for bed, and free time after work is usually the largest chunk of free time people have next to weekends.
Wake up a little earlier to get your workouts done in the morning, or even during the middle of the day on your lunch break, so you can maximize your time after work.
Trade length of time for intensity. A ton of research suggests that the more intense 20-30 minute workouts with resistance training are more effective than longer cardio workouts. Shorter workouts also make it easier to be more consistent with your weekly fitness routine.
Although meditating is an additional activity to add to your schedule, the benefits far outweigh the time invested and will ultimately increase your productivity.
There are several types and levels of meditation, but if you're brand new to it, I'd recommend starting with something basic like the process below.
I do 10-20 minutes of very basic meditation every morning, which has profoundly improved my ability to stay present, practice gratitude, and maintain focus throughout the day.
- I start by remembering three things I am grateful for that happened the previous day
- I focus on one small thing I'm grateful for (senses, things in nature, etc.)
- I focus on two people, events, or experiences in my life that I'm very grateful for
- I reflect on my long-term vision for my life and our companies
- I then write down what my goals are for that day, and make sure they fit into my long-term vision
Start by trying five minutes 1-3x per week. If you find the practice helpful, increase the length of time and weekly frequency.
9. Be honest with yourself
The rest of the steps don't matter if you can't be honest with yourself first about how you currently use your time. Ask yourself how much time on a daily basis you spend:
- checking email
- getting interrupted
- in avoidable meetings
- on unnecessary phone calls
- looking at social media
- watching TV/Netflix
- at the gym
- going out
- wishing you were doing something else
- on the things that matter most to you
10. Set a rewarding goal that will payoff
Free time is most often misused because the reward for using this time does not trump the near-term satisfaction of relaxing or accomplishing routine tasks.
This means you're either setting ultimate goals with too low of a payoff, or you don't actually believe you could accomplish these goals.
I'm here to tell you that 80% of the battle is actually believing you can, and the other 20% is taking action. That's it. If you're committed, the rest will take care of itself.
So assuming you can get there, ask yourself:
- What would be your ultimate life? The one where:
- You do work you love
- Money has no impact on your decisions
- You live with excitement and flexibility every single day
- We've talked about priorities.. what are yours? What really matters to you, if you could redesign your life right now, what would that look like?
If the payout is high enough, this will create the motivation to stop procrastinating the stuff that really matters, and start procrastinating the routine things that don't.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” –Mother Teresa
We all have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week. This time is not renewable and none of it is guaranteed.
Make sure you're spending your time wisely. Or better yet- intentionally, freely, passionately, excited, fulfilled, and having fun.
Disrupt The Cycle
If work and life feel separate, if you get substantially more excited for life outside of work, it's time to make a change.
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