How I Made a 26-Hour Day

It's New Years Eve. Another year gone, another on the horizon. Around this time, you'll likely see posts on predictions and resolutions. I'll spare you that. Instead, I want to focus on the thing that prohibits our ability to reach our goals -- time.

There's just not enough hours in the day.

True, but what if you could make more? Of course, I'm not speaking literally. Well, kind of.

My 24-Hour Day

Just a few months ago I struggled with the issue of time. I was treading water. My day stacked up like this.

7:00am - Roll out of bed, make breakfast, get ready for work, handle a few emails and consume several cups of coffee

8:45am - Arrive at Moz

5:30pm - Leave Moz

5:45 - Go to the gym

6:30 - Eat dinner

7:30 - Blog, answer emails or hack on Stride, depending on the day (Interruptions abound)

11:30pm - Read, then head to bed

Seems like a fairly productive day, right? That's what I thought too, but it just wasn't cutting it. I couldn't get ahead. Replace my tasks with whatever it is that you do, and I bet you're used to a similar schedule.

My 26-Hour Day

Here's what my days look like today, after some simple shifting.

5:00am - Roll out of bed

5:15am - Go to the gym

6:00am - Make breakfast, get ready for work and consume several cups of coffee

7:00am - Blog or hack on Stride (no emails)

8:45am - Arrive at Moz

5:30pm - Leave Moz

6:00pm - Eat dinner

7:00pm - Answer emails, return calls

8:30 - HOLY HELL, FREE BLOCK

9:30pm - Read, then head to bed (shifted two hours earlier to maintain sleep length)

Wait a minute, didn't I just wake up two hours earlier? Well, yes. But I optimized my day, significantly. Along with waking up earlier, I segmented out the thing that caused the greatest distraction, emails and calls. By waking up a few hours earlier and creating more granularity, I avoided the krypotonite of productivity -- context switching.

Each time you answer a call or check an email, you lose time.

According to studies, it can take up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds (on average) to get back on task after an interruption. Studies also show that we're interrupted an average of 6-7 times per hour. On the high-end, that's over 5 hours that we can lose from context switching in just a two hour period, which doesn't make any sense, but you get the point.

Mornings are different. Email slows down. Distractions fall away. Productivity increases.

You're probably thinking, "I'm not a morning person." Well, I wasn't either. But I trained myself to become one. As is true with anything, you get used to it. The first two weeks are the hardest. After that, it's smooth sailing.

I assure you, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more addicted to increasing productivity than me. I've taken GTD courses, blocked out each day on my calendar and fine-tuned my task applications. Yet, nothing has had a more profound impact on my productivity than the simple habit of waking up a few hours earlier.

I'm well aware that this isn't an earth-shattering phenomenon. However, it is something that we can all do to become more productive. And it works, like you never imagined it could.

By shifting and optimizing your day, you'll have a one to two hour block that you didn't have before. A free block to spend with family, get that side project off the ground, take a course or just relax. If you're into that sort of thing.

Hi, I'm Andrew, an entrepreneur that loves the process of building companies. Currently, I work at betaworks in New York City.

This is where I share my journey and lessons learned, feel free to follow along. Read more →

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