How to Get More Done in Less Time – Part 1

Murphy’s Law has been hitting me left and right for the last 5 days…where it feels like everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

Yesterday I woke up to find my 6-month old Macbook Pro not working. Maybe it was taking a holiday for July 4th, I don’t know, but it wasn’t how I wanted to start my day.

My solution was to have my assistant take it to the store for a fixin’, and to buy me one of the Macbook Airs as an insurance policy.

Seems a little un-necessary, I suppose, but I believe you have to be willing to buy time and productivity, and my time is worth a lot more than the $2K I spent on the extra computer.

But, as a result of all of this, I was left with less time to get a lot of work done.

Fortunately, I’ve followed – and follow – these 6 rules to get more work done in less time.

#1 – Keep Track of Your Minutes

I once heard Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, George Ross, recommend, “Carrying around a spiral notebook and mark down what you do with each minute of the day.”

So get a notebook, and write down what you are doing every quarter of an hour for your full work day.

Set up your notebook like this:


Etc. And just make notes.

You’ll quickly identify your time-wasting habits, as well as when you are most productive. The next step is to identify solutions for overcoming the time-wasting and to increase the time spent in your productive zone.

#2 – Script Your Day

Dan Kennedy says, “If you don’t plan your day, someone else will plan it for you.” So that’s why I now script my day, and try to do so several weeks in advance.

Here are Dan’s tips on how to do this

–     Decide what you are going to get done.
–     Assign blocks of time to it & script your day.
–     Get it done & stick to your time limits with NO exceptions.

It’s that simple. This also means blocking out unexpected calls and not allowing for anyone else to come marching in to your office to steal your time.

(PS – I highly recommend Kennedy’s book, “The Ruthless Management of People & Profits”. It will help you get more done in less time.)

#3 – Stop Checking Your Email. No, Seriously. Stop It.

I used to have a bad habit that Internet Marketer Eben Pagan calls, “The OCD Loop”. That’s where you check your email, check your orders, check a forum, check ESPN, and then start back at the top of the loop and go around again…Ever do that?

Fortunately, as with writing, working out, and eating better, you can improve over time and with discipline.

So start by identifying the OCD Loop that you get sucked into every day and then identify ways to stop it.

As Eben said, “Slap yourself if you have to.”

Eben also recommends breaking your workday into chunks, including periods of focused works (2 hours) interspersed by short periods (10-30 minutes) of non-working breaks.

Of course, you should also limit how often you check email.

Stick to what many of you have already learned from Tim Ferriss and limit email to once or twice per day.

If I can make this change, you can too.

Tomorrow: 3 More Tips to Get More Done

Feel free to share your time management tips below. Keep working towards your independence,

Craig Ballantyne

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato

How to Get More Done in Less Time – Part 1
  • Great article! Personally I have to work on #1, keeping track of my minutes.

    RE: “#3 – Stop Checking Your Email. No, Seriously. Stop It.”

    These days, I would add Facebook and Twitter to the list.

  • Great post! There is also an other wonderful book about time management and productivity called “The Power of an Hour” by Dave Lakhani. He talks about the importance of working with our natural cicles of intense work with regular breaks. It is a great book!

    As far as email and Internet, I actually unplug myself (physically disconnect my internet connection) when I work. It works! 😀

    Also, John’s point about not wasting time on Twitter and FB is important! I know people who are totally addicted to these social sites! What I do is I take advantage of their addiction and use them as my advocates on those forums! 😉

    I didn’t know you knew Eben! He is such a great guy! I don’t know if you have met him in person, but he is really funny too! He was one of the first Internet marketing teachers I have followed.

  • keith

    Craig- great post- I love how your posts always reinforce what I know I must be doing to get to my goals- thanks for writing them

  • It’s amazing how little you actually miss when you aren’t checking your email, Facebook, Twitter etc….

    Ryan Lee gave me the tip to stop reading the newspaper and the same applies, you really don’t miss much, but the time you gain is great.