5 Strategies to Reclaim 45 Hours Every Week

In this article I share some transformative strategies that could save you up to 45 hours each week. Yes, you read that right. Imagine having almost two extra days in your week to do what truly matters to you. The best part? It’s entirely within your control.

We often find ourselves lamenting about the mountain of tasks we have to do and the seemingly insufficient time we have to do them. But what if I told you that this perspective is unrealistic and counterproductive? You can accomplish anything you set your mind to without necessarily working longer hours or spending more time glued to your computer screen.

Why should this matter to you? Well, time is a finite resource for all of us. There’s only so much we can do in a day. However, suppose you don’t use productivity strategies, leverage new technology, or break free from unhealthy work habits. In that case, you’ll find yourself stuck in a cycle of constant busyness without much to show for it.

I’ve learned that productivity is not solely a function of the amount of work I put in. Yes, dedicating time to a project propels it forward faster, but the crucial aspect of working smart can significantly multiply your outcomes.

Unfortunately, many people equate results with nothing but hard work. I was guilty of this mindset for many years. But the reality is, as human beings, we have physical limitations. It’s unrealistic to think you can keep adding more and more projects to your plate without changing your approach to work.

Persisting in this way will likely lead to burnout and a loss of interest in moving forward with your projects. So, let’s delve into how you can work smarter, not harder, and reclaim your time for what truly matters to you.

It took me years to understand that exponential results are the function of hard and smart work.

I’ve understood a few key principles in my journey to work smarter, not harder. These strategies and habits have become an integral part of my daily routine, allowing me to take on more projects that I’m passionate about without adding extra hours to my work schedule. 

Here are the main ones:

  • Planning the Week Ahead
  • Focusing on 3 to 5 Priorities
  • Saying No to Meetings
  • Limiting Inbox Time
  • Multitasking the Right Way.

Let’s look deeper into each of them.

Planning the Week Ahead

5 hours saved

One of the most effective strategies I’ve adopted is planning my week in advance. This simple habit has streamlined my workflow and saved me approximately 5 hours each week.

I’ve always found mornings to be my most productive and creative times. It’s when my mind is fresh and ideas flow freely. However, starting the day wondering what tasks to tackle or planning activities can be a significant misstep. It disrupts the creative flow and eats into the precious productive hours of the morning.

Over time, I’ve realized that planning for a single day or an entire week takes roughly the same amount of time – about one to two hours. So, why not maximize this time and plan for the whole week? I typically do this at the end of each week, laying out a clear roadmap for the week ahead.

This approach has a twofold benefit. Firstly, it saves me around five hours each week – time that would otherwise be spent on daily planning. Secondly, it allows me to start each day with a crystal-clear plan, freeing up my mental space to focus on deep, meaningful work.

To put it into perspective, here’s how planning ahead saves me time:

  • Daily Planning – If I were to plan each day individually, I’d spend about one to two hours every morning deciding what tasks to tackle. That’s 7 to 14 hours per week.
  • Weekly Planning – By planning for the entire week at once, I spend just one to two hours at the end of each week. This approach saves me at least 5 hours per week.
  • Increased Productivity – With a clear plan in place each morning, I can dive straight into my tasks without wasting time deciding what to do. This focus on deep work further enhances my productivity.

Focusing on 3 to 5 Priorities

20 hours saved

Another strategy that has significantly boosted my productivity is focusing on three to five key priorities. This approach has helped me save around 20 hours each week.

You might think, “Of course, you save time if you only work on a few items.” But that’s not the point. The key here is not just to focus on a few tasks but on the right ones. These three to five priorities should align with your quarterly goals – the most important things you must accomplish in the next three months.

Concentrating your efforts on actions that will lead to achieving your goals means honoring your commitment and staying free from distractions. This focus is not something that happens by chance; it requires intentionality.

What works for me is time-blocking a significant portion of my daily working hours for these priorities. This way, I know exactly what I will work on and when I will work on it. This approach eliminates any tendency to procrastinate or get trapped in urgent but unimportant tasks.

How does this save time? In this case, the time saved is all the time I block on my calendar to work on priorities, which will help me achieve my goals. This is essentially time saved from being wasted on irrelevant work.

To break it down:

  • Time Blocking – By setting aside dedicated time for my priorities, I ensure these tasks get the attention they deserve. This approach saves me from wasting time on less important tasks.
  • Avoiding Procrastination – Knowing exactly what I need to work on and when helps me avoid procrastination, saving me additional hours that might otherwise be lost.
  • Achieving Goals – By focusing on tasks that contribute directly to my goals, I ensure that my time is spent productively, leading to quicker goal achievement.

Saying No to Meetings

5 hours saved

When it comes to meetings, I receive requests and invites every day. However, most of these meetings can be avoided, saving me approximately 5 hours each week.

In my experience, a quick message can resolve most issues that meetings are set up to address. The best part about these messages is that they can be answered asynchronously, allowing me to respond at a time that suits my schedule best.

Before I agree to a new meeting, I require a clear objective for the meeting and an agenda with well-defined discussion points. This ensures that if a meeting is necessary, it will be productive and focused. I can often avoid unnecessary meetings by asking the right questions via message or chat. This approach saves me at least one hour per day.

Here’s how this strategy breaks down:

  • Avoiding Unnecessary Meetings – I can avoid many unnecessary meetings by resolving issues through quick messages. This saves me the time that would have been spent attending them.
  • Requiring Clear Objectives and Agendas – By insisting on clear objectives and agendas for meetings, I ensure that any meetings I attend are productive and focused.
  • Saving Time – I save at least one hour per day, or five hours per week, using these strategies. This is time that can be spent on more important tasks or priorities.

Limiting Inbox Time

5 hours saved 

One common mistake many leaders make is obsessively checking their emails without a schedule. This habit can eat into your productive hours and leave you feeling overwhelmed. By limiting my time in the inbox, I’ve saved approximately 5 hours each week.

I’ve spoken at length about this topic in previous articles, explaining how I schedule my email work. The bottom line is that I choose two to three-time slots each day, typically during periods that could be better for deep work, to handle all my emails. These time slots have a clear start and end time, ensuring email doesn’t take over my day.

For emails that require less than five minutes of action, I handle them on the spot. If an email requires more than five minutes of work, I acknowledge the email, provide a date by which I will respond, and add the action item to my to-do list.

Later, I prioritize items on my to-do list. It’s important to note that not everything that initially gets on the to-do list ends up being done. This approach ensures that I focus on the most important tasks first.

By applying these simple strategies, I’ve been able to save at least one hour each day from working in the inbox. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Scheduled Email Time – Setting specific times to check and respond to emails prevents this task from taking over my day.
  • Immediate Action or To-Do List – By dealing with quick tasks immediately and adding longer tasks to my to-do list, I ensure that nothing gets overlooked and that my email time is used efficiently.
  • Prioritizing Tasks – Not every task that makes it onto the to-do list gets done. By prioritizing tasks, I ensure that my time is spent on the most important tasks.

Multitasking the Right Way

10 hours saved

When it comes to multitasking, I do not suggest working on multiple tasks simultaneously. In fact, I’ve learned from experience that traditional multitasking often leads to scattered results. However, I’ve found a way to multitask effectively that saves me approximately 10 hours each week and enhances my well-being.

My strategy involves combining light exercise, such as walking or bike rides, with meetings and listening to business books. I have meetings daily, and with some good planning, most can be handled from a phone.

It’s easy to skip exercise on busy days, even with the best intentions. So, when I realized that these two types of activities could be combined effectively, it was a game-changer.

This is probably one of the strategies I love the most. Being outdoors for a meeting is far more enjoyable than being indoors. I live and breathe nature and the outdoors for those who don’t know me well. Walking in the forest sparks creativity, whether geared toward finding solutions or starting new projects.

Considering that outdoor activities and learning are things I enjoy doing on weekends, the time saved is significant. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Combining Exercise with Meeting – By taking my meetings outdoors, I can get in some light exercise while also handling business matters. This saves me time and ensures I get my daily dose of exercise.
  • Listening to Business Books – I often listen to business books during these outdoor activities. This allows me to learn and grow professionally while also enjoying the outdoors.
  • Boosting Creativity – Being in nature boosts my creativity, helping me come up with new ideas and solutions.

Final Thoughts on Saving Time

In our quest to achieve more, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working longer hours and packing our schedules with endless tasks. However, as I’ve shared in this article, the key to greater productivity and achieving our goals isn’t necessarily about doing more. It’s about working smarter, not harder.

From planning your week in advance, focusing on key priorities, saying no to unnecessary meetings, and limiting time spent in your inbox to multitasking the right way, these strategies can significantly increase your productivity. More importantly, they can save you considerable time each week – time that can be spent on activities that truly matter to you.

Remember, it’s not just about saving time but about making the most of our time. By adopting these strategies, you’re reclaiming hours in your week and taking a step towards a more balanced, fulfilling life.

As you progress, I encourage you to try these strategies and see the difference they can make in your work and personal life. Remember, the goal is not to be busy but to be productive. And with these strategies, I believe you’ll be well on your way to achieving that.

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