5. Schedule time to get your work done.
This is crucial. As the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.” If you don’t take control of your calendar, someone else will. You can’t spend all your time in meetings and still get your work done. Instead, you need to make appointments with yourself. Yes, go ahead and actually put them on your calendar. Then, when someone asks for a meeting, you can legitimately say, “No, I’m sorry, that won’t work. I already have a commitment.” And you do—to yourself!
6. Cultivate the habit of nonfinishing.
Not every project you start is worth finishing. Sometimes, we get into it and realize, “This is a waste of time.” Fine, then give yourself permission to quit. I do this all the time with reading. It’s why I am able to read so many articles and books. Here’s publishing’s dirty little secret: Most books are not worth finishing. Most books could be cut in half and you wouldn’t miss a thing. The key is to read as long as you are interested and then stop. There are too many great books to read without getting bogged down in the merely good ones.
7. Engage in a weekly review and preview.
Part of the reason our lives get out of control is because we don’t plan. Once a week, you have to come up for air. Or—to change the metaphor—you have to take the plane up to 30,000 feet, so you can see the big picture. I generally do this on Sunday evening. I review my notes from the previous week and look ahead to my calendar. I have written elsewhere on this topic, so I won’t repeat myself here.
You may not be able to reduce your work week to four hours—and honestly, who would want to?—but you can certainly scale it down to a manageable level by cutting out the wasted motion and developing a few good habits with these time savers.