The 40-hour-a-week-er's Guide to Rescuing Time

There is an assumption among those who work full time that certain suggestions don't apply to them:

  • pursue what you love
  • do more interesting things
  • travel
  • don't be boring

Somehow, these encouragements for everyone are misconstrued as commands to the sluggards and the couch potatoes. Well, here's your post! This one goes out to the 40-hour-a-week-ers!

Your time matters too.

So many people claim that they don't have time to do such-and-such. I know many students with not even close to a 40-hour workweek who say they "don't have time." Here's the short and sweet version of this post:

you have the same number of hours in a day as Michelangelo simply need to know how to find them. Few people are actually so busy with meaningful work or are already doing exactly what they want to be doing that they legitimately don't have time to do anything else.

It's time to rescue your time.

What are your priorities?

This question will motivate your rescue mission.

1. What matters? Write down the top ten things that matter to you.

2. Enough time? Are you getting to spend as much time as you would like doing each of these things?

3. How much? How much time would you like to spend on each item each week? Write the estimate to beside each.

Those hours that you have written down... those are the hours we're trying to rescue. Let's move!


Checkpoint 1: Leave work at work.

Raise your curser if you've taken a work-related phone call, read a work-related email or responded to a work-related text message during off-work hours in the last week. I'm guessing at least half of you. A few of you, I would wager, have even brought work home with you in much more substantial ways. It is estimated that over half of Americans participate in work-related activities at home after work, on the weeks or during vacations.

I've recently had to practice this little trick of leaving work at work so I can empathize with you guys, it's hard. I write around 10,000 words per week (if not more) in addition to working part-time at a marketing firm and doing freelance photography and design work. The need to start writing sometimes doesn't hit until somewhere between 6:00pm and 10:00pm. Irritatingly enough, that's often when I get my best writing done. The fact that I could literally do 90% of my work sitting at my desk is another reason I find it difficult to disconnect. As a result, I've noticed that I don't spend as much time with my family and friends as I would like, I have neglected Scripture reading and have traded it all for an 80-hour work week. Granted, it's fun for me so I can get lost in the work sometimes.

After making a conscious decision to leave work at work, I've had to intentionally tell myself to put something on the work list for tomorrow instead of doing it immediately or not answer a phone call from a client and just call them back the next morning. While I have not been able to successfully shut off completely from work, I'm doing better at keeping work between 9am and 7pm.

READ: 9 Small Ways to Increase Productivity


Checkpoint 2: Use your vacations.

This one almost irritates me when I think about it. Many employee benefit programs include paid vacation but the sad part is that over 40% of Americans don't even use it!

Maybe they aren't sure what we're dealing with here... this is PAID days where you could literally do NOTHING if you wanted to. On the other hand, you could travel the world if you wanted to.

Check out some of these stats from Travel Effect's survey:

The Benefits of Paid Time Off are Universally Recognized.

Nearly everyone surveyed (96%) recognizes the importance of using PTO, including 95 percent of senior business leaders.
Huge majorities of American workers say PTO helps them relax and recharge (90%), offers the opportunity to do what they enjoy (88%) and makes them happier (85%). Nearly two-thirds (65%) say their concentration and productivity improve with PTO, and 61 percent report greater satisfaction at work.

Senior business leaders agree that time off from work delivers benefits to their employees and companies: 91 percent believe employees return from PTO recharged and renewed—and ready to work more effectively.
Yet More Than Four in Ten of Us Will Leave PTO On the Table

Still, 41 percent of American workers do not plan to use all their paid time off in 2014, even though it is part of their compensation.
— Travel Effect

Days of relaxation have tremendous impact on our stability, our mental stamina, our creativity, our energy, our emotion and probably many more things that I would know about if I were a sleep therapist. If this doesn't get through to you, you have no hope of rescuing time as a 40-hour-a-week-er.


Checkpoint 3: Wake up earlier.

I want to run some simple math by you really quick. If you woke up one hour earlier just on weekdays to pursue your side business, get some reading done, meditate etc. you would rescue nearly eleven, sleepless, 24-hour days out of the year in extra time!

Are you getting 8 hours of sleep per night? Train yourself to get 7. Are you already getting 7? Train yourself to get 6. I wouldn't go any lower than that, however, because your quality and quantity of sleep has a dramatic impact on your mental, physical and emotional state during your waking hours.

Imagine what you could do with 260 extra hours per year! Noah Kagan over at AppSumo proved you could make $1,000 in 24 hours if you've got a plan.


Checkpoint 4: Quit.

There, I said it. The evil curse word from Hell.

Look, I'm not saying you have to, I'm just saying it may be worth considering. If the boss keeps calling you when you're at home with your kids, or you're already pushing the biological boundaries of human existence by living on 4 hours of sleep per night, or you're finding it impossible to go on vacation because deadlines just won't let up... do I have to say it?

It might be time to say goodbye.

Life is not about work. There are many things which vastly outweigh your job in importance (unless your like a doctor or Mother Teresa or something).

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

1. Am I fulfilled in my work? Is that pillar of my life satisfying to me?

2. If I could do anything in the world and get paid for it, what would it be?

3. Could I re-prioritize my life so that pursuing my dream would be financially and logistically possible?

READ: 5 Steps to Quit Your Job in the Next 12 Months

40-hour-a-week-ers, I'm looking at you.
You have no excuse.

Rescue your time.