The time fairies don’t magically gift you more hours.
Removing things from your life is how you win back the time to do the stuff in life you really care about, or work on your side hustles.
Here’s what’s piss-easy to remove.
Too much time at a job gets spent in meetings.
There’s a war on meetings since back-to-back Zoom calls became a thing post coroni-rona. If you do nothing else from this article then simply do less meetings.
- Excuse yourself from attending more.
- Leave more meetings early.
- Ask the question “do I need to be here for this one” as much as possible.
- Ghost meeting invites.
- Play dumb when you miss meetings.
- Attempt to cut down the length of every meeting.
- Tell meeting organizers you’re in back-to-back meetings so they get to the point faster.
- Insist on agendas at every meeting.
Meeting discipline makes you time rich.
Saving: 10 hours a week.
Checking emails 20 times a day
Email feels like a to-do list that never ends. As soon as you get all your emails taken care of, more magically appear.
Checking email doesn’t make them go away.
Choose the time of the day when you have the lowest energy to answer them. You’ll find low-energy states make you answer emails faster, write shorter replies, and get to the point. I find I’m more assertive too.
Saving: 1 hour minimum per day.
Long sessions at the gym
My trainer used to say to me “if you’re in the gym for longer than 30 minutes, you’re not working out fast enough.”
I’ve stuck to this rule. I give myself 30 minutes and not a second more. This means my 60 seconds rest between sets has to get timed to make it out in 30. The iPhone stopwatch works wonders for this.
Maybe you don’t go to the gym. Fine. But whatever exercise you do, get it over and done with. Quit goofing off.
Saving: 30 minutes per session.
The multi-tasking nightmare of distraction
When you’re working, do it properly.
Distracted (shallow) work is dumb work. It wastes a lot of your time. Focused work is faster. Work done in a flow state is fastest.
You may have heard the phrase “4 hours of deep work is all you need for the day.” I used to think this was BS. Then I realized it’s not necessarily.
Deep work is faster because there’s less time task-switching. Your thoughts are focused on one thing, so that one thing gets done at rapid pace.
Do more work in a flow state.
Saving: 2 hours a day.
Doing stuff for free
Since the internet went mainstream people have been trying sh*t on.
Emails and direct messages are full of camouflaged asks for free stuff. The request isn’t an obligation — it’s just a wild thought. Many fall into the bear trap. They think they have to give away their time for free to strangers.
You don’t need to answer questions for free. You don’t need to mentor strangers if you don’t want to. You don’t even need to reply to a request.
If all you do is spend your days doing free stuff, you’ll have no time left to fulfill the meaning of your life.
Learn to ignore. Or feel free to say “pay me b*tch” if you’re that kind of person.
A regular calendar
Productivity expert and Youtuber Ali Abdul swears by Calendly. I don’t use it yet but I’m about to.
Organizing times for appointments is a pain in the butt. Calendly allows you to see someone’s availability without firing off emails. And you can change appointment times without the other person needing to do anything.
I’m a subscription tightarse. But I’m about to bend the knee to Calendly.
Saving: 1 hour a week not playing email tennis.
Get a fast Mac with quick external drives
My Mac ay home belongs in a museum.
Until recently I didn’t realize how much time it wasted. Opening photos is slow. Editing photos or video is slow. Booting up is slow. Switching apps is slow.
Snails move home faster.
I’ve put up with it for years. Finally, I replaced my crap Mac with a Mac Mini. It’s cheap and saves loads of time.
Now I can do computer tasks much faster. It takes no time to boot up either. And you no longer need to put Macs to sleep when you take a break. This means getting back to work is faster too.
Use a fast computer.
Saving: 2 hours a week not jerking around.
An intimate relationship with your phone’s vibrator
When my phone vibrates I get excited. It feels nice in my pocket.
The truth is I was intimate with my phone for far too long. We were inseparable, except during real bedroom intimacy.
When my phone isn’t around my mind can focus better. Otherwise, I’m thinking about Amazon deliveries, potential messages, and what Russian scammers are trying to call me to steal my identity.
Productivity just increases with your phone banished from the room. I can’t explain how. Just try it.
Saving: 1 hour a day not doom scrolling.
Lex Fridman interviewed Mark Zuckerberg recently.
While I don’t love Mr Zucks, something struck me as strange. Both Lex and Zucks wear the same outfit every day.
Zucks explains that not deciding what to wear lowers his decision fatigue. Less decisions to make means more time to spend doing high-value work. It’s hard to disagree with the billionaire wonder boy.
Saving (estimated): 10 minutes a day.
It’s a bad idea to wing it when it comes to managing time.
We have a terrible ability to know how long stuff takes to do. That’s why it’s better to use productivity software. I’m a simple guy and like Trello and Roam Research.
Trello helps me visually see what I need to get done so I don’t waste my time trying to rely on my memory and map stuff out (badly) in my head.
Roam acts as a second brain that is my notepad for everything. With my personal database, I never forget ideas. That means I don’t waste time trying to remember quotes, facts, figures or stories. All of it is in Roam.
Get yourself some killer productivity apps.
Saving: 7 hours a week.
People who refuse to get help
One of my best mates was an ice addict.
I wasted so much time trying to help him. He refused, and I’m not a counselor. So I ended up cutting him loose.
Some people aren’t worth investing time in.
Saving: Depends on how bad your inner circle is.
An unrealistic to-do list
I’m an optimist. In productivity terms that makes me a time liar.
I have a habit of putting too many things on my to-do list, thinking I’m Superman and can do it all.
I never do.
What saves me time is cutting things from my to-do list every day. I find the lowest priority and bin it. With less tasks to think about, more gets done.
Make healthy tasks automatic
When I’m low on energy I waste more time because I’m trying to avoid working. That’s why I go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
The good habits that preserve your energy work best when they’re automatic.
High energy equals better utilization of time.
Remove dumb stuff from your life to have more time. Invest that time wisely in other areas: family, exercise, side hustles, relaxation.
Time becomes abundant when you add less and subtract more.