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On the weekdays, I typically focus on work productivity, but since it's the weekend, I couldn't resist sharing three time-saving tricks that gave me over six hours back this week. Six hours, 1 minute and 30 seconds, to be exact -- and the number will likely double next week.

Time-Saving Trick No. 1: Hired a Research Assistant

In my client work, I produce between 12 and 15 pieces of content a weekday, plus social media updates, Ridiculously Efficient posts and my weekly productivity newsletter. One "off" day, one wrench in the works or one sleepless night can turn a 6-hour day into a 12-hour day. This simple fact poses a great danger to long-term productivity.

To better my chances, I hired a U.S.-based contractor to help me do research. She's already saved me 4 hours this week, and we haven't even worked a full week together. Sure, I'm paying for that time, but it's freed up enough of my day to guarantee plenty of workout time and a good night's sleep. To me, those two activities are priceless.

Time-Saving Trick No. 2: Read All Email on My iPad

I've been slowly weaning myself off email, and this latest step has really supercharged my productivity. I now only check email on my iPad, which sits on my kitchen counter a few feet from my desk. This forces me to get up (key for fighting sitting disease), and helps me resist the lull of email-checking. Not only have I saved 2 hours of my week this way, I've also discovered that very few of the emails I receive require an immediate response.

Here's the email-weaning progression thus far:

  1. Disabled visible and audible chimes on Apple Mail. This is a nice first start for anyone.
  2. Disabled Apple Mail and switched to checking email via browser. This was a good idea in theory, but in practice, it just led to me leaving tabs with Gmail open and checking them obsessively.
  3. Switched to checking email via phone. Another good idea in theory that failed in practice. Because my phone is always by my side, I was compelled to check email constantly, even in inappropriate places like the supermarket or Disneyland.
  4. Switched to checking email via iPad. This has been most successful thus far. When I receive an email that requires a lengthy reply, I star it and open Gmail in my browser. Otherwise, I can read emails and reply to them from the iPad.

Time-Saving Trick No. 3: Breathe

I typically actively avoid running in favor of high-intensity interval training, weight lifting or basically anything else that doesn't require me to run, but I'm training for my first Warrior Dash at the end of the month, which has forced me to get running. I shaved off 30 seconds from my 2-mile time on all three runs this week for a total savings of 1.5 minutes by belly-breathing rather than chest-breathing.

Before I began belly-breathing, I had no idea how shallow my breaths were while running, and as a result, fatigue set in far earlier than it should have considering my fitness level. Now, I see significant performance improvements each run, and an activity I used to hate is actually bearable.

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