3 Unsexy Time-Saving Hacks That Gained Me 30+ Hours Each Week

Photo: Kleber Cordeiro / Shutterstock
productive man working at desk

The shiny object syndrome is the reason most people aren’t productive.

In search of the elusive (non-existent) all-powerful productivity elixir, we disregard the basic boring ones that actually work.

While these habits won’t revolutionize your productivity overnight (nothing will), they’ll kickstart you in the right direction.

The longer you stick to them, the crazier their results will compound — ending up saving you hundreds of hours. 

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Here are 3 unsexy time-saving hacks that gained me 30+ hours each week: 

1. Reading during meals and commutes

Reading is up there in the S-tier of habits — no wonder almost every successful person swears by reading.

“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.”

— Rene Descartes

Reading has gazillions of benefits — better memory, sharper cognition, richer vocabulary, elevated mood, stress reduction, knowledge enhancement, deeper focus, etc.

But in our busy schedules, reading regularly has become an insurmountable challenge.

The solution is capitalizing on every waking moment:

  • Pop on audiobooks and podcasts while exercising, jogging on the treadmill, or strolling in the park.
  • Read during your meals — choose a light fiction book to make the meal enjoyable.
  • Carry a book or an e-reader along whenever you travel — your next flight or train ride will be fun.
  • Whip out a book if you’re stuck waiting — be it a roadblock, a long queue, or a delayed flight.
  • Watch or listen to book summaries when you have only brief snatches of free time.

With these hacks, you’ll become a prolific reader — without spending a single extra hour.

RELATED: 4 Unsexy Habits That Demolish Your Brainpower

2. Journaling

Prominent YouTuber Improvement pill ranked journaling as his #1 habit on his habit tier list.

Our brains are evidence-weighing scales — the heavier the positive evidence for a particular thing, the deeper will your belief in it is.

This is why practice makes perfect, experience builds confidence, and positive affirmations work so bloody well.

But journaling puts this on steroids — clutching a pen and writing builds two-fold proof:

  • The “effort” you invested into actually performing the act.
  • Your glaringly visible handwritten words on “tangible” paper.

Journaling’s among the perfect ways to help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

— Ryder Carrol

For my busy impatient brethren wary of pouring out pages, go with bullet journaling — my minimalist template takes less than 2 minutes to complete.

The words you jot down today will turn into the reality of tomorrow.

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3. Waking up early

This is a cliche for a reason.

Every hour you wake up earlier is an additional hour you stack up on your existing 24.

Early in the morning, if you’ve slept well, your testosterone will be at its peak. So will your energy levels and mental clarity. Also, thanks to most of the world still being in slumber, noisy distractions are out of the question.

The result is hyper-effective deep work — that research has found to be 500% more productive than regular work!

Also, morning people have reported higher drive and joy than night owls.

Research shows the same — shifting your schedule back by just an hour can lead to a 23% lower risk of depression.

Suddenly switching to 5 AM mode won’t work. Make it gradual:

  • Decide a schedule. Whether it’s 12 PM or 2 AM, ensure you’re sleeping (and waking up) at the same time every day.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routineGet rid of electronic screens at least an hour before bed. Take a lukewarm shower. Grab a book, talk to your family, or meditate.
  • Pull your sleep timings back by 15 minutes every 2 days. While you’ll feel barely any difference between 11:00 PM and 10:45 PM, the changes will surreptitiously add up.
  • Avoid the snooze button like the plague. Going back to sleep is irresistible, but don’t. Even if you didn’t hop into bed early, wake up — your circadian rhythm will adjust.

Kill your 5 AM alarm as it rings. Drink some water. Devour the silent beauty of the nascent sun. Splash some cold water on your face. Meditate for a minute or two. Get to work.

The next 1-hour will beat every 4-hour stretch you’ve pulled burning the midnight oil.

I’m an ex-night owl, I’d know.

RELATED: 7 Unsexy Habits That Demolish Your Likeability

Bonus #4: Batch-complete your shallow tasks

Energy-draining deep work like coding or writing is best suited to single-tasking — with ample amounts of leisure thrown in.

But shallow tasks like checking emails or replying to messages are focus leeches.

So batch them up and complete them at the end of your workday — when you’re low on energy.

With this strategy, you’ll be able to work uninterruptedly with a rich focus on your key tasks — this is crucial since it takes a whopping 23 minutes to focus after an interruption.

Patiently bake the cake of your deep work— only after that, sprinkle the shallow talk toppings.

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Neeramitra Reddy is a writer and editor of In Fitness And In Health, Wholistique, and MANXIMIZE.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.