Michael Hyatt is one of the voices in leadership, productivity, personal development, and self-improvement. The former CEO of publisher Thomas-Nelson and now independent businessman, speaker, consultant, and media personality, Hyatt is an online juggernaut with a popular blog, a podcast with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and nearly a quarter of a million Twitter followers.
While Hyatt is an in-demand speaker, a New York Times bestselling author, and runs the successful Platform University, much of the content he provides is available for free – or at most, available in exchange for signing on to his email newsletter. His blog at MichaelHyatt.com, his podcast This Is Your Life, and his always informative Twitter feed are great sources for any freelancer looking to create more value or, in Hyatt terms, “more margin” in their days, weeks, and lives.
We’ve pointed to Michael Hyatt and his work before on The DOZ Blog, both because of his position of social media and his endorsement of another thought leader in online marketing, Jeff Walker. In this post we’re taking a closer look at one of Hyatt’s most recent releases, the free ebook Shave Ten Hours Off Your Workweek.
Finding Those Ten Hours
The latest ebook is not the first time that Michael Hyatt has considered the idea of shaving ten hours off a workweek.
Back in 2012 Hyatt turned to the topic on his podcast. This early episode of the show preceded his current ’13 show season’ podcast format but is no less valuable. In a little over 40 minutes Hyatt takes you through seven strategies he believes will help people find the margin they need in their life. Listening to this episode (available here, with a transcript here) is a great way to get introduced to Hyatt if you haven’t run into his work before, and the episode also makes a great companion for the new ebook.
Even before that episode, Hyatt was thinking about ways he could empower others to win back the sort of time he has created through paying more attention to productivity and making time for what is important. In 2007 he published a great post where he laid out strategies for creating this weekly margin. Again, reading this blog post in conjunction with the books only going to add more value to what Hyatt is presenting now is only going to create additional value for freelancers seeking a weekly time dividend.
Now in the new ebook Hyatt has taken this earlier work and developed it further. Shave Ten Hours Off Your Workweek is not a rehashing of his previous work on creating margin. Rather it can be considered the culmination to Hyatt’s long quest to answer a simple question with significant implications: how can a busy person get their time back?
An eBook MADE for Freelancers
Michael Hyatt doesn’t flat-out say this ebook is for freelancers, but if there’s ever a group of people who could do with finding an extra ten hours in their week, it’s freelancers. Not only could this time be used to bill an existing client or find a new client, this is also time that freelancers could use to advance their learning, fit in family and loved ones, exercise a little more, or just relax. With freelance work often being billed out by the hour and with freelancers very aware of the role that time plays in their professional and personal lives, being able to find ten more hours each week is more than valuable – it’s potentially life changing.
In the introduction to his ebook Hyatt explains his motivation for writing the book:
My key insight was that I didn’t actually have a time-management problem. I had a self- management problem. The emergency showed me what I was doing wrong. I was responsible for my situation, and I was determined to turn it around. I took care of my family, started running, started eating better, and got more efficient at work with fewer hours on the job. The end result was that I was more productive at the same time I was investing in the things that matter most. I want to show you how you can do the same thing.
For freelancers, self-management is part of the daily ritual, and productivity and efficiency more than just buzzwords. These things are the core of a freelance career and being able to find additional efficiencies every week can have a huge impact on the value of that career, and the value of the time when a freelancer isn’t working.
Three Takeaways for Freelancers from the eBook
The purpose of this review is not to summarize Hyatt’s ebook or to give you any reason not to read it. In fact, freelancers who are looking for strategies that work in getting productive should read the ebook. While we’ve provided some strategies on productivity here on The DOZ Blog in the past, there is plenty more in Shave Ten Hours Off Your Workweek that can help even the most efficient and organized freelancer.
Still not willing to take our word for it? No problem: here are three takeaways to give you a taste of the ebook before you dive in and devour the whole thing.
1. Get Enough Sleep at Night
Freelancers know that work can intrude at all times of the day. While there’s a lot of good that comes from being able to set your own hours and work from home, there are also some challenges. One of the major challenges can be maintaining some semblance of work-life separation. After all, when your office is also your home, work time can quickly push into family and personal time. In addition, the trade off in day-to-day stability that freelancers have made in exchange for greater professional freedom means that they will often take on an extra job or another client today to buy time later. Working additional hours in the evening can quickly become normal – and this is one area where freelancers can run into big trouble. More work at night means less sleep. And the truth is that you simply can’t be productive during the day if you are not getting the sleep you need at night.
Hyatt isn’t the first to recognize this fact, of course, but he does offer some real strategies that can help you get more sleep. He offers five practical steps that any freelancer can take to get more sleep every night:
- Commit to getting enough sleep: “Determine to go to bed at a set time and then do it. Some people even recommend setting an alarm—not to wake up but to remember our bedtime.”
- Establish a bedtime ritual: “It’s easier to do just about anything when there’s a pattern or a rhythm we can follow.”
- Do a little exercise: “Research shows exercise in the morning or afternoon can benefit our sleep.”
- Leave the electronics alone: “It’s best to turn off our devices an hour before bedtime and block all the light coming into our rooms.”
- Forget about work: “Our bosses don’t own our sleep. And if you—like me—are your own boss, then let’s give ourselves a break!”
2. Make Your Calendar Work for You
Deadlines, delivery dates, and shipping dates are a reality in the freelance world. Every freelancer needs a calendar to make sure they can plan their day, retro-plan their deliverables, and structure their months, quarters, and working years – and yes, vacations, too! But a common problem that freelancers who have traded their 9 to 5 for the freedom to be their own boss find is that their personal calendar becomes their new boss. The boxes on the page become the new cubicle, and instead of looking at the calendar and seeing freedom, even a quick glance provokes emotions like fear and dread.
When your calendar has started controlling you instead of you controlling your calendar, it’s time to make a change. Michael Hyatt offers a few ways to make your calendar work for you, including the following:
- Schedule your tasks – all of them: “Cordon off time for you to get your work done. Guard it. Fight for it.”
- Schedule time to do nothing but think: “I know instinctively that I really can’t accomplish anything significant without serious reflection, dreaming, and planning.”
- Schedule time for exercise: “I accomplish so much when I run, I can’t wait to do it again the next day.”
- Block out your nights and weekends: “Guard your nights and weekends. This is the natural time to downshift and recharge.”
3. Disengage from the Internet
Nothing has empowered the freelance revolution like the internet. Freelancers can work on projects from any country from almost anywhere they want to work. A home office in Idaho connecting direct to NYC? Not an issue. Creating content in a coffee shop? No problem. Designing on a beach? That’s what 4G is for – am I right? But being connected for work and the increasing connectivity in our personal time means that we are increasingly on call 24/7 – if not for a client then for friends, family, and Facebook. The internet should empower freelancers, not disempower them. As a result, we need to actively and deliberately disengage from the internet to take back our time.
Michael Hyatt provides a series of practical steps we can take to disengage from the internet and rediscover the wasted hours – even dozens of hours – that we spend unproductively online every week:
- Turn Off Notifications: “Letting ourselves get distracted by notifications while working on major projects is literally stupid.”
- Don’t Surf Without a Reason: “If there’s no reason to check Facebook or ESPN while working on our task list, then don’t.”
- Use Tech to Manage Tech: “I use Anti-Social. It works with Mac and PCs and blocks access to any site you want for a designated period of time.”
- Switch On Music to Switch On Productivity: “I listen to music whenever I want to get out of the world and into my work.”
Practical Advice for Freelancers Everywhere
The above is just a very small taste of what Michael Hyatt has packed into his ebook. If you get the impression that he is big on practical advice – you’re right. Hyatt isn’t boring you with theory or providing you with advice that leaves you scratching your head wondering just how you’ll implement it in your life. This ebook is aimed at people who are looking to be more productive, more efficient, and who have something better to do with ten hours in their week than simply more non-productive web surfing, time wasting, and time in front of a screen. If you want, you can learn new skills to pursue a tech career.
Get your copy of Shave Ten Hours Off Your Workweek by visiting MichaelHyatt.com.