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7 Proven Steps to Win Back 20+ Hours Every Month

7 Proven Steps to Win Back 20+ Hours Every MonthYou want to scale your business, but you can’t seem to find the time to make it happen.

Or maybe you are finding the time, but it’s at the expense of other things in your life.

Things like family, staying fit, hobbies, vacations, etc.

And you know that improved productivity could be the answer.

So you read post after post on the topic. Maybe you’ve even read a few books too.

You find dozens of time-saving tips and decide to try them out.

But a few days later, you are right back where you started.

Why Most Productivity Advice Doesn’t Work

If most productivity tips actually worked, there wouldn’t be a need for so many blogs and books on improving productivity. Here are the two reasons that most of these tips don’t work.

Reason #1: You don’t change overnight.

You don’t wake up one day and become a totally changed person. Total transformation takes time – a lot of time. It takes a lot of hard work too.

Common productivity wisdom and tips are simply too high-level to easily implement.

Without early successes, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and give up.

Reason #2: One size does NOT fit all.

Lots of productivity advice focuses on tips and tactics. You can absolutely gain a lot from implementing these tips. But, it can be hard to know what is going to work for you.

Without a personalized action plan, you have a laundry list of no-no’s that makes you feel like crap.

It’s more frustrating that useful. And it does anything but motivate you to change.

Without a strategy adapted to your own situation, it’s difficult to be truly effective.

How to Make Productivity Changes That Actually Work

Productivity 2.0: To find more time, look for fast tweaks that deliver a huge impact immediately. Don’t overhaul your entire system. Look for easy wins.

You need to know what changes will be worth your effort, so you don’t end up right back where you started. And you need a custom plan that’s going to make the most impact for you.

Through helping lots of service business to find more time, I have refined the 7 steps to create a quick plan for finding 5+ hours each week.

This is the exact process that consistently discovers 20 – 40 hours per month for my clients. And, this post is the first time I have ever shared the entire process.

The Huge Rewards of Increased Productivity

Before we get into the process itself, let’s look at the potential rewards.

What is this process worth to you?

A few days upfront, with a total 1-2 hours of investment, will conservatively buy you 260 hours or 1 ½ months of full work days (32 days). What are 260 of your hours worth?

How many clients could you get if you invested 20 hours more a month on your marketing? Winning back this time could be worth thousands of dollars to your business! And it might just be the one thing holding you back from taking your business to the next level.

How The 7 Step Productivity Process Works

As you go through these steps, bear in mind that there are endless changes you could make. Don’t get distracted: follow these steps to identify your high-impact easy wins.

Give the small changes a chance to stick. STOP when you reach 2 – 4 changes or 5 – 10 hours saved per week.

Overload yourself and you will fail. In fact, 1 change may be all you need to find 5 hours per week.

Now on to the 7 steps.

Step #1: 2 Days to Change Your Life

This is the most important step. This process won’t work well if you skip this step.

Just like with marketing, you can’t change what you don’t measure. The same is true with how you spend your time.

And the data comes from time tracking. Track your time in 15-minute increments in extreme detail for 2 days.

An example of extreme detail: “client work- project y: write an article, research, distracted by email, read blogs.”

Time Tracking Chart

2 days should be enough if you are very detailed, but 3 – 5 is even better. See the example above.

You won’t have much to go on unless you are very specific. This step alone will bring a whole new level of awareness.

You’ll need to know how you actually spend your time so you can…

Step #2: Find Out How Bad it Really Is

Now, scan through each day of your time-tracking log. What common trends do you notice?

You should see a few tasks or activities that either occur often or take up a good amount of time.

Common areas where this can occur include: email, article writing, admin, meetings, travel, client work, proposals, networking, etc.

Record 4 – 5 of your most common tasks and activities in their own column on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. You can create your own spreadsheet like the one on the right, or you can save time and download the template that my clients use.

Then go through each day individually. Record the minutes you spent on each particular task in its respective column.

Find Time Now Time Tracking Spreadsheet Example

Look at the totals.

Are you surprised to see where your time is actually going? A lot of people who go through this process find it’s a bit of a wake-up call.

Now that your time is sorted out into categories…

Step #3: Ditch the Baggage

Go back and look at the days you tracked your time. What ways are you spending your time that aren’t delivering a good return for you?

This is the easiest way to find more time.

Meetings tend to be a high impact area to reduce or eliminate. For example: if you on a web marketing firm, and meetings show up on your time-tracking chart as not delivering a good return for your time, you might restructure your meetings and win back over 5 hours per week.

This time will enable you to scale your business quickly, without cutting into the rest of your life. You create a process to decide who gets to use your time, and under what conditions.

By eliminating most in person meetings, you leave your home office less and save an enormous amount of travel and transition time.

Other places to look: low ROI networking meetups, unproductive social media, “pick-your-brain” sessions with non-qualified buyers, etc.

What can you easily eliminate? How much time will you save by eliminating these low-return activities? Highlight things you can drop, and tally up the total.

Next, you will want to look at high frequency tasks to see where you can…

Step #4: Choke Off the ADD

“But Mandi, I don’t have ADD!” Many of my clients say this when we get to this step. A quick look at your task switching might indicate otherwise.

Bouncing back and forth between tasks is energetically draining. Transition time is also a huge time suck!  Save time by staying focused. Stop task switching and package tasks into time blocks.

This is a logical step, right?


Knowing what to do isn’t enough. Deeply ingrained habits can make change difficult. This is why so many of us check email sporadically, instead of in a few chunks each day.

To ease your way into your new task-batching system, consider first scheduling certain activities for specific days. For example: client work/calls on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; sales calls, admin and marketing on Tuesday & Thursday.

As an easily distracted person, this was an easy and liberating change for me to make. It helps me stay more focused, and get more accomplished in less time. It simplifies everything, leaving me extra hours each week to grow my business.

From there, prevent task switching throughout the day by batching your tasks.

For example: A marketing consultant who went through this process now saves 1.5 hours each week by writing in one weekly block, instead of 3 – 4 times per week. He eliminated the transition time. And his creative juices are already flowing, so it makes the task faster and easier. Eventually he will take it a step further and write monthly instead of weekly.

For now, weekly is an easy change to make. It’s given him 6 additional billable hours every month, which is valued at $1200/month! For him, batching his writing is an easy change that makes a huge impact.

What tasks in your business could you block together and schedule on certain days? Which tasks can you batch to accomplish all at once? How much time do you estimate you can save by cutting out the start and stop?

Good tasks to batch together include: checking and answering email, writing, client work, admin, meetings, planning, etc.

Every time you batch a task, add it to your time savings list. Keep tallying the total numbers of hours saved each week.

Now that you’ve batched your tasks, let’s see how you can…

Step #5: Break Through the Day to Day

This step is my favorite because it’s a fun and simple change. The idea is simple: put steps in place to streamline day to day processes.

There is software to streamline and automate repetitive tasks. Think Buffer, Hootsuite, Boomerang, IFTTT, etc.

But, streamlining your process goes beyond just software. It’s about engineering the steps to get to a certain outcome. It makes for quick, predictable outcomes every time.

A common challenge I see with my clients is a slow response time to project requests. For a lot of service businesses it can take days to answer an email – which is ridiculous! You lose potential revenue and drag out your sales cycle, both of which sabotage your growth.

With a repeatable process, you can respond to prospects in hours instead of days.

Rather than expending mental energy on a unique response every time, reply with a Gmail canned response. Customize it. Include a link to your online appointment scheduler. Click send.

This could save you:

  • Time writing the email. Reduce a 5 – 12 minutes process down to 2-5 minutes. Savings = 3-7 minutes.
  • Eliminate back and forth emails about appointment scheduling. Reduces 2 – 3 emails x 5 minutes each down to a single email. Savings = 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Transition time, if any. [Savings = your estimate.]

Total time saved = 13 – 22 minutes per week, per project request.

If you receive 3 requests / week, you have saved 0.75 – 1.5 hours. At 5 requests per week, you’ve saved 1 – 2 hours. And at 10 requests per week, you have saved 2 – 4 hours.

Do you see how fast little tweaks can add up?

You can take it a step further and streamline the whole process for starting a new project. You’ll delight your customers (and be more profitable).

Other ideas for streamlining your processes: load and automate social media updates, use an appointment scheduler, implement email filters, plan autoresponders in advance, etc.

The next step after streamlining repetitive tasks is to…

Step #6: Find More Hours, Without Working More Hours

Scheduling the right tasks for the right time is like being gifted extra hours in the day. I find that I can literally get twice as much done during my peak time vs. non-peak time.

People can generally be grouped into morning people and evening people. Surprisingly, most of us are actually morning people. We tend to wake earlier and be more productive in the morning. Evening people start slower and can accomplish more at their peak in the evening.

When is your peak time? Peak Productivity Time Graph

For those of us who peak in the morning, alertness sharply declines in the afternoon between 12 – 4 pm and after a meal. Then it picks up in the late afternoon/early evening.

If you follow this common trend, you’ll want to schedule tasks that require the least brain power for non-peak times. Among other reasons, this is why checking your email first thing in the morning is productivity suicide.

Examples of common non-peak time activities: social media, admin, returning calls.

From what’s left in your columned list, pick out the most important tasks that require your full uninterrupted attention. Now schedule these activities in your peak time when you are sharpest and most alert.

Examples of common peak time activities: business development, planning, client problem solving, strategy, or anything you want to accomplish in much less time.

Don’t waste your precious ultra-focused time on menial tasks. Protect it and use it to drive your business forward.

Now that you have gone through the first 6 steps and have maximized what you personally can do, you might look at how…

Step #7: Playing Superman/woman is Holding You Back

Go back to your time-tracking list. Is there anything that you hate doing, are bad at, or is cheaper for someone else to do?

Hours (and energy) that you spend on low-level tasks are hours that you aren’t bringing in new revenue.

Consider outsourcing these tasks.

It’s less expensive than you think. You can find good people to offload tasks to on Odesk, Elance, Fiverr, and Microlance.

How much time would you save by hiring an editor to polish your earlier drafts? One of my clients saves 5 hours per week by hiring a fantastic copywriter. Since his rate is $200/hr and the copywriter’s is $30/hr, he is ahead by $3,400/month.

Ideas for outsourcing: website management, graphic design, data entry, editing, and 101 tasks to outsource.

Now that you’ve worked through all 7 steps…

How Will You Win Back 20+ Hours This Month?

How you invest your time directly impacts how successful you can be – in all areas of your life! Time is needed to grow your business, have enriching relationships, and make a bigger impact in the world.

You deserve a better business. Your family deserves seeing your nightly presence at the dinner table.

What steps in this process will buy you back 5 hours this week, and 1 ½ months of extra days this year? Find the top 2-4 things you can change. Make the time to create massive success in your business and in your life.

About Mandi Ellefson

Mandi Ellefson helps successful service business owners transform themselves into what she calls a “Hands-Off CEO” as they work less and slowly exit the day-to-day in their businesses, even as the business grows and becomes more profitable. Download her Scale to Freedom Roadmap which includes one easy tweak to recover 20 hours per month.


  1. Lisa Ann Schreier says:

    Thanks Mandi. First article about time saving that actually makes sense.

    I think between the time tracking and the task-chunking, I’m going to see results

    I am fortunate enough to work out of my home, but that opens up a whole new set of potential time wasters.

    Looking forward to seeing good results!

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Glad you found it useful Lisa. And yes working from home is wonderful. But yes, there are a lot of time wasters. My new favorite ap for that is focus@will. It keeps my wandering mind on track. I’d love to hear your results! Keep me posted!

  2. Peter DeHaan says:

    Great advice!

    I used to periodically have my employees (back when I had employees) keep a time log for a week. To show my support, I’d do it, too. They hated it and so did I, but every time I discovered time wasters in my routine and was able to reclaim some time.

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I am with your Peter. Time tracking can be a necessary evil. And it’s not one of my favorite things either.

      Something else that I like to do is schedule exactly what I am doing for the day to the minute. And it fast becomes clear if I am falling behind. -Mandi

  3. Terri says:

    This is a very helpful post. Unfortunately I already know my time suckers, and they’re hard habits to break 🙂 Grouping things together and setting aside specific times sounds like a good way to tackle it. Making a list and checking things off as “done” keeps me from going from one task to another without seeing it through, but putting a time limit on it might light a fire under me. Thanks for the push 🙂

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Terry, I like you “done list.” It sounds like it keeps you motivated. I hope you are able to focus on a couple easy changes you can make. Then you will see progress, just like you do with your list. And be able to slowly make changes with the sticky habits to break. Keep us posted on your progress!

  4. Jessica Marie says:

    Loved this post!!! It gave me great ideas, plus showed me somethings that I am doing right. 🙂 I do have ADHD and have had to find ways around it; this is one of the reasons I want to be my own boss. I have already divided my days up by “themes” (ie Monday is article writing, Tuesday is social media post writing and scheduling, etc.). I am also a morning person so over the next week I am truly going to focus on not opening my email until 10am. This is a big drain for me b/c I get lost in it going to all the helpful links and such. I need to focus more on getting my productive tasks that will take me closer to my ultimate goal done first thing in the morning. Thank you!!!

      1. Jessica Marie says:

        To be completely honest, it will be about 10 hours a week. I am one who opens it first thing in the morning, then I always get side tracked with all the links. 🙂

        1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Fantastic Jessica! Thanks so much for sharing. That will keep you accountable, and everyone else reading this inspired to take action for themselves. Well done!

  5. Graham Smith says:

    Hi great post Mandi thanks for this , i think at some point we all loose track of time and sometimes maybe spend more time on things we shouldn’t and less time on things we should spend time on .

    Will surely be using some of these tips , who wound not want some extra time it so precious.


    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Graham, I agree with you. It all flows from setting your priorities, and having your work day be in integrity with those priorities. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  6. Mike Seddon says:

    Thanks Mandi, some great tips & advice.

    Over the years, I’ve found two tactics that work for me.

    1) I review the following days plan of activities as the last thing I do at the end of my day. The reason I do this is I find my subconscious starts to get to work on those activities already and I can get write to them the next day.

    2) I schedule a little time each day to “play”. It’s usually only 30 minutes but this is time to do something that may not have any value but I really want to do. So for example, if a new wordpress plugin appears and I want to test it out even though I can’t really see any business value then that gets tackled in those 30 minutes. It stops me wasting mental time justifying the wasted time to myself and mental time beating myself up about it afterwards!


    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Mike I love your first tip about writing you activities at the end of the day. And I’m glad you have found a reward system that work for your flow. 🙂

  7. Rie says:

    I agree with what you are saying – in theory. But there are some people, like me, who don’t quite fit your round hole. I imagine that if I had been born 40 years later, I would have been diagnosed ADHD, but I “controlled” my need to be active all the time by timetabling myself from age 8. My mother bought me some graph paper, and I blocked out each day with what I wanted to do, and then did each activity. These days, I need to be super productive, so I do the same. But I find that long blocks of intense mental activity don’t work for me. I block my time out in 1.5 hour sections. I work for 1 hr 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. When I sit down again, it’s to a different job. I don’t suffer from boredom or mental fatigue or waste too much time on the “changeover.” I work from 9 in the morning to 11 at night without that mental exhaustion that others suffer. It’s a different system, but it works for me, and I thought if I put it out there, someone else might benefit. I’m 60, by the way, so it’s been working well for some time 🙂

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


      That is so great that you found a system that works for you! This is a system to find some easy wins, not a holistic approach for someone with severe focus challenges. A typical approach to productivity is what I call the overhaul method. I have tried that many times, and it doesn’t work.

      Several people I have worked with who have ADHD have found the manual tracking to be nearly impossible. So we did the process without it.

      My brother and father also have ADHD so I get some of the challenges. And as you have pointed out so nicely, there are some really awesome perks. I don’t look at it as a disability at all.

      The point is to find what works for you. Small action > small progress > momentum > progress > each change gets easier.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective.

      1. Dr Rie says:

        I wouldn’t say I had “severe focus challenges” :)!

        I feel that each person must find the optimal focus time *for them* and timetable themselves around it.

        Transition time is not a “huge time suck” for those who have reached their optimal focus time on their current task.

        Or would you disagree with that?

        1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Dr Rie, I wasn’t saying that YOU have severe focus challenges. Sorry if I came across that way. 😐

          I couldn’t agree with you more that “each person must find the optimal focus time *for them* and timetable themselves around it.” 100% agree! That is what is different about this process. It’s all about easy wins that work for YOU and your workflow.

          I don’t believe there is any right formula. I can just share strategies that work for a lot of people and cherry pick for what’s applicable to you.

          According to research transition time is a big time suck for most (see link in post). But that is all relative.

          I was mostly referring to unnecessary transitions. What a lot of people find when they time track is just how much time is spent in unfocused bouncing around. Which isn’t what you are talking about I think.

          They start a client project. Then remember they need something in their email from that client. Then they lose track of what they are doing and start going through their inbox. Then start reading an article somewhere. A facebook indicator chimes and they bounce over to check an update. Then they stop and think “What was I doing again?” Can you see how that rabbit hole might be energetically draining and also a time suck?

  8. Mai Bantog says:

    Hi Mandi, thanks a lot for these wonderful tips! I’m sure I’ll be able to use these things to make me more productive. I know I’m guilty of spending too much time checking my emails and social media accounts. In fact, I start my day checking my emails, which is productivity suicide, as you aptly put it.

    I just want to say something about delegating tasks and finding people who’ll work for you from oDesk and other similar sites. As a regular oDesk freelancer who’s trying to get out of the system because of the really low rates, I just think it’s best if we really give workers their due compensation. I’m just not a fan of the oDesk system because of the bidding wars that prevent freelancers from earning what is due to them, so this is just like a reminder for everybody that if they decide to be a client in oDesk, don’t be one of those clients who encourage low rates. A lot of freelancers there deserve higher rates for the quality of their work. Just my two cents. Once again, thanks for this post, Mandi. 🙂

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thanks for your perspective Mai. I agree that there is a lot of good quality work to be found on Odesk and other similar sites. There is also a wide range of experience, quality, and rates (hopefully to match). And I agree with you Mai that you are likely to find better compensation for your talents by developing your own network outside of Odesk. But, on or off Odesk, if one wants to be paid a higher rate, they have to demonstrate their value and charge accordingly. The bidding wars happen no matter where you do business. You have to set yourself from the pack with a good value proposition ( has really good information on this). Otherwise, you set yourself up as offering a commodity– and be compensated as such.

      I am glad to hear you are avoiding productivity suicide by delaying your email till later in the day. You will have to update us on your progress. Cheers!

      1. Mai Bantog says:

        I totally agree with you, Mandi. Bidding happens even outside bidding sites, but what I find unfair in oDesk is that there are actually clients who prefer freelancers charging $1 or less for every 500-word post, and still expect high quality work on that account. It degrades the worth of the freelancer. But you’re right about being compensated according to what you offer. I just want to get out of this kind of practice/system because I believe I’m worth more than that. 🙂

        1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Good for you Mai. I would agree that charging $1 or less for every 500-word post is crazy. *I* wouldn’t pay for that service. But, I see no exploitation happening here.

          Years ago people told me I was degrading myself by submitting designs to 99designs when I was a designer. I built my portfolio and I didn’t feel exploited despite not making a cent on 99designs.

          We all have a choice. And we all start somewhere. In fact, I offered my services for free to test this process I shared here. And I am so happy that I did. It has helped so many people and has contributed to my business growth.

          There are also many opportunities for freelancers on Odesk to stand out and be paid more. The easiest one is to actually read and follow the instructions when responding to a job posting. You would be shocked at how few people actually do this! This applies to job postings anywhere too.

          1. Mai Bantog says:

            Yes, you’re right. When you’re just starting you’d grab every opportunity to get published, even for free. But I’ve been here since 2008 and you can’t blame me for wanting a change of environment. I guess I’ve outgrown the practice there, and I need to grow as a freelance writer as well.

            Thanks so much for this substantial discussion, Mandi. It’s nice to see the pros and cons of these bidding sites. 🙂

  9. Debbie Leven says:

    Yes, I need to sit down and really analyse how I spend my time and be much more disciplined. I think that having self imposed deadlines is really important and helps to reduce getting distracted – you just get on with it and do it. Managing interruptions is also something that I would add – unless it’s urgent then you need to manage those, or protect yourself from them, so that you can get on with what you need to do.

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Great thing to add Debbie. Looking objectively at your schedule is the first step toward the motivation needed to being more disciplined. I like to make progress by being disciplined in 1 area. Like managing interruptions as you mentioned. I have found that being more disciplined in general, without the baby steps that bring momentum is a pipe dream (for me at least).

  10. Kerry says:

    I take sneaky five minute tea, biscuit and Facebook breaks when I’m supposed to be working solidly!!!

    Phew… I said it. I feel better already.

    What an epic post Mandi! I’m certainly guilty of trying to work on a zillion things at once, trying to be everything to everyone and… allowing myself to be distracted from work a little too often. I’m going to take a deep breath, find out how bad I really am, scold myself and then put your tips to good use. Many thanks.

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Awesome Kerry! I just hope there will less scolding and more deep breaths. You are turning a new leaf so don’t beat yourself up too much. I bet those tea and biscuit breaks make you happy. Just find a time works better for you to use as a guilt-free reward. Yay!

  11. Great article Mandi. I love Chrometa for tracking my time without having to it manually – it’s awesome actually (although less so to see where you’re simply wasting your time) and you can also use this to track time for clients you want to bill and members of your team

  12. Hey Mandi I pretty new to firepole marketing, this was my first article and I just want to say that you’ll be seeing me here more often. There were so many great ideas and I love how you showed that you can save 2-4 hours just by saving a little bit of time here and there.

    1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Gary, I have been reading- and loving- Firepole Marketing’s blog for years. This is a good place to be. What ideas do you think will be easiest for you to implement and how much time do you think you’ll win back?

  13. Christina Salerno ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Love this post. It addresses the core issues instead of trying to slap a “productivity tool” on top. Tools can be helpful in organizing a strategy. But, a tool without a strategy is like a shovel in the middle of a parking lot. Thank you for all of the great suggestions, Mandi!

    1. Mandi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Christina- Love the “shovel in the middle of the parking lot!” Ha ha. I totally agree with you. Strategy first. Find the right tool for your desired outcome and workflow. Then, boom you are on fire!

  14. A. Lynn Jesus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I loved this post – and I really appreciated your approach of taking a simpler approach of a couple to a few things to start rather than cut all of this out and don’t do that anymore… your outline is so doable.

    I am finding I need to be better at grouping my activities (such as writing posts, checking email, updating social media) in blocks of time rather than dripping it throughout the day. I am working on cutting out the distraction cycle of doing a Facebook post and taking “just a couple minutes” to check my feed. 🙂

    Thanks for your post!

    1. Mandi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      A. Lynn, Good plan. And yes, simple is better. I have personally tried the schedule overhaul to do everything just right and it just doesn’t work. Not for me or for a lot of people I have worked with anyway. If you want to keep yourself accountable tweet me in a few days and let me know how it is going. @MandiEllefson

  15. Paula Richey says:

    Thank you for this post, Mandi! You’ve confirmed several of my suspicions about my time, and given me loads of tips and apps to try – both now and in the future when my business starts to fly 🙂

    I especially like the tip for tracking time in 15 minute increments – that’s pretty much how long it takes for me to get distracted or called onto something else.

    1. Mandi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


      Glad it was helpful for you. Just start with the 1-2 things that will make the biggest impact. From there is gets a lot easier. Good luck with the time tracking!

  16. Darren says:

    Mandi, this is a good reminder for everyone, but especially me. I used to track my time quarterly in order to see what changes I needed to make how I organized my time. I appreciate your comment on blocking time for a specific task vs trying to complete more through shorter and multiple times throughout the week. One thing I try to do when re-organizing my calendar, based on time tracking is to group tasks based on the type of “hat” I’m wearing and should be wearing. ie content creation, operational hat, supervision (if applicable), strategic (for me this is only monthly). Anyways, I dont want to ramble, but thank you for the reminder, at least for me, that organizing my calendar and time starts by actually tracking how I spend it in the first place! Great job. Love the resource as well. Nice design.

    1. Mandi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Darren, so glad it’s useful for you! I love the “hat” analogy. Officially stolen! Glad to hear you have a monthly strategy. So important!

  17. Marcy McKay says:

    I officially love you, Mandi! I’m fairly efficient, but still would love to eek out more time each week. I’m definitely going to track my time (EEEEK) and may even track you down to report my findings. TY!

    1. Mandi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Marcy, I love you too! Thanks for reading and commenting. What is really awesome about this process is that I haven’t found a single person it hasn’t helped yet. One VERY efficient biz owner found 5 hours a week which was a huge relief for him. And I frequently run into people working 60+ hours per week. They actually have no idea how much they work because they are always working. And it consistently cuts of 20 hours per week or more (I know that sounds unbelievable). Plus it gives them a better work life balance and saves them from the inevitable burnout just around the corner. I would love to hear how it goes for you a super efficient person. I find people like you have an easy time implementing.

      1. Marcy McKay says:

        Thanks for responding, Mandi. I LOVE that your system helps workaholics. I’ve found that just because someone works MORE does not mean they accomplish MORE. I’ll definitely keep you posted on my tracking…..

        1. Mandi Ellefson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Yeah, Marcy I am really happy that the system works for workaholics too. From what I have seen, it becomes a trap. They aren’t focused, so they can’t get as much done. So they work more and become even more distracted. After a while their life is more work than anything else. At which point life starts to come into work more and there is no separation. It is a big stressful mess! I have caught myself going down that rabbit hole in my last business and it ends in burnout. I hope that this post might be a good jumpstart for anyone going down that path.

  18. I’m excited to try this Mandi. Excited and nervous all at the same time. Excited cause I know I’ll be more productive, nervous cause I’m sure I’ll find way too many ways I waste time! But its worth it to be more efficient. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Mandi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Yes Sonia, the dreaded timesheet shame. When I start this call with clients I almost always hear a defeated tone in their voice. There is a big difference between how we think we spend our time. And what is actually happening. The reality check is a lot like being side swiped with a 2×4″. But darling you are among friends. Myself included. We can all improve SLOWLY together. 🙂

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