Find five extra hours in your working week

‘Is it possible to get back five hours of lost time in just five days?’, I hear you ask. Yes it is! All you need to do is everything I tell you. It will take you less than 30 minutes of your time a day. At the end of the challenge you will have found five hours of lost time. Five hours you can invest in yourself; your family; your work; your hobbies; your personal or professional growth; or more sleep. It’s your choice. Writes Kate Christie.

You have nothing to lose, and five hours to gain. See you on the other side!

Day 1

It’s time to commit. Are you in? Good.

Like any good challenge, there are rules. Today is simple – read the rules and then make sure you stick to them over the full five days.

The Rules:

  • The daily time challenges are set out below
  • Lock 20-30 minutes into your calendar at the same time over the week
  • Each day, when prompted by your calendar, read and complete the relevant challenge.

Day 2

It’s time to be mindful about your social media usage

Here’s how:

  • Today I want you to check the clock every single time you login to any social media app (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat etc).
  • Write down the time you logged on and the time you logged out. All day.
  • At the end of the day add up how many minutes you spent on social media. Alarmingly, on average, we spend two hours a day on social media. For teenagers this time spend is up to nine hours a day.

Today’s Challenge:

  • Cut the time you spend on social media by half:
  • If you are spending two hours a day on social media, by cutting this in half you just got back an hour a day.
  • If you are an above average social media user, you will get back more than an hour a day.

By the way, two hours a day of social media each day is equivalent to five and a half years of social media over your lifetime. Imagine what else you could do with that time! What else could you become an expert at if you had five and a half years to spend on it? Learn a language; train for a marathon; learn a musical instrument; start your own business…the possibilities are endless, and a much better use of your time. See you tomorrow.

Day 3

It’s time to think about what you can outsource at home

Think about every task you currently perform around the house that you are prepared to pay an expert to do for you. When it comes to outsourcing, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Reject any feelings of guilt. Give yourself permission to get (and pay for) the help you need at home.
  • There are experts out there who can perform these tasks faster, better and cheaper than you.
  • Make a list of all the tasks you perform at home and rank them in order of what you really, really hate to do.
  • Your financial costs – for example, a cleaner will cost you around $25 an hour, which is the equivalent of buying five coffees a week.
  • Your opportunity costs – the tie you reclaim by not cleaning, for example, is time you can use to do something you love.

Today’s Challenge:

Hire a cleaner or outsource another home based chore. On average we spend one hour a day cleaning our homes, so you just got back an hour a day. See you tomorrow.

Day 4

It’s time to reject interruptions.

  • On average we are interrupted 10 times an hour (that’s every three minutes), and over 40 percent  of all interruptions are self distractions – where you go looking for trouble! Once interrupted, here’s a sample of what happens to your brain:
  • It takes up to 23 minutes for you to refocus to the point of focus you had at the time of the interruption
  • After the interruption you don’t generally return straight to the task at hand, taking on an average of two different tasks before returning to the original task
  • You tend to work harder and faster to make up for lost time, which increases your error rate two fold, along with increasing your levels of stress and frustration
  • Your productivity goes down by up to 40percent. Interruptions are costing you big time.

Today’s Challenge:

  • It’s time to reject interruptions. Here’s how:
  • Be conscious of when you are interrupted: by who; what for; how does it impact you?
  • If it is a regular saboteur, have a polite discussion around how the interruptions are impacting your work and set up a regular catch up time instead
  • If you are regularly interrupting yourself, looking for distractions, set yourself a task, set a time limit (say 40 minutes), set a timer and challenge yourself to work until the timer goes off without looking for any distractions.

If you reject just three interruptions a day, you just got back one hour of lost time a day.

Day 5

Today you are going to reclaim more lost time the simplest way possible.

Today’s Challenge:

Make simple decisions fast. Simple decisions include:

  • What to wear: on average we spend one year of our lives deciding what to wear. Create a uniform look and stick to it.
  • What to eat: on average we spend five and a half days a year deciding what to eat. Have a list of what you like and make sure that you always stock it.
  • Looking for lost items: on average we spend two and a half days a year looking for lost keys. Allocate a place where you always put your keys/phone/wallet so that you don’t waste time or mental energy looking for them every single day.

Identify all of your simple decisions, make them once, and then move on. If you lock in the simple decisions you just got back more than an hour a day of lost time.

Your Results

If you employ just one strategy, you will have easily found five hours of lost time in five days. If you employ every strategy from the you have found a lot more lost time than I promised you!

Time is your most precious resource, understanding how to invest it with intent is a powerful skill that you can learn: and once learnt, there are hours of lost time you can reclaim.