You probably think that turning your 60 hour work week into a 15 hour work week is a pipe dream.
It can be done. I’ve tested this idea out on more people than just me.
Personally, I got to a 15 hour work week in three stages.
The road from a hectic 60 hour work week to a calm 15
First, I figured out how I was working incorrectly. The improvements I made took about 20 hours off my work week, taking me from 60 to 40.
Then I figured out how much I could automate, and learned how to be as organized as I could with as little effort as possible.
I tried every tool I could to do work faster. I went down another 10 hours.
Last, I took a hard piercing look at myself, and moved work that I could give to lightly trained temporary virtual workers.
Another 15 hours dropped out of my work week.
You can do this too, and I’ll give you the general steps here.
And if you have questions or suggestions? I’d love it if you came back and tell me how it went. Or we can talk about it on Twitter.
Before we get to the actions, let me tell you a short version of one of my productivity adventures.
You can read the whole thing on my personal site if you’d like. (That links goes directly to the section I’m referring to here.)
Cancer taught me what to care about
There were times I had to work while I had cancer, or I wouldn’t be able to afford to be sick.
But when I didn’t have a choice, since I had no plan in place, I just… stopped certain things.
I cancelled all meetings that could go on without me.
If I wasn’t being paid to be there?
I didn’t go. I sometimes sent someone in my place. Sometimes I just stopped going.
Somehow the world did not end.
I also stopped checking my email.
I don’t mean that I figured out a way to not have to check my email.
I just stopped.
Now, I am a special case.
I have an illness that often flares up out of nowhere. So I had contingency plans for bad days when it hurt too much to move.
It turned out that stopping email did not impact my daily life much at all, aside from freeing up my time.
This is not something I recommend for most people.
Nor am I suggesting inbox zero as a goal. Just not to be consumed by the need to check it every five minutes.
Your inbox is mostly a todo list factory for someone else’s needs.
That doesn’t mean don’t answer it. Just stop letting it take up all your time and make you insane.
Okay, now for the first action step.
Kill the Noise
When you think of noise, you probably think of music or the sounds of traffic. But if a sound is
- or at least not distracting
then it’s not noise.
It goes deeper than that too. Noise can be a messy desk. Or it can be constant distractions.
In this case, I’m referring to your notifications.
Whether on your cell or in your browser, try turning all notifications off for a set amount of time each day. On the iPhone, you can schedule it, and also allow emergency messages to get through.
Why kill notifications?
Sometimes they are relevant, but rarely are they truly urgent. And I’m not against a little dopamine.
So don’t turn them off forever. Just when you’re doing your most important work.
I turn my notifications off whenever I have scheduled time to pursue a major business goal.
(Yes, I make appointments with myself. And I take them as seriously as a meeting I’m being paid to attend.)
For the next week, do this for the first 2 hours of your work day if you can and try not to schedule meetings during that time. (In fact, later in the series we’re going to talk about how to use this time to achieve major goals.)
If you can’t make it the first two hours because you can’t control when you have meetings, do it in the first two hour block you have without meetings or other interruptions.
It’s funny how much you can get done when you aren’t tempted to answer the phone or texts, attend to emails, or waste time on Facebook.
There’s one more thing to get rid of in the first stage. We’ll talk about that next.
Part of the #60to15 series for entrepreneurs on shortening your work week.
Got tips? Share them to the #60to15 hashtag on Twitter/Instagram, then anyone can read your submission. The best ones will be featured here.