• Advice

5 tactics I use to take 2 hours off per day, every day

Unpopular opinion - I am not a fan of time management.

I can see why it’s a trending topic. We all want to have more time to:

  • Do some marketing
  • Hit the gym
  • Do more of whatever makes us happy

That’s why the idea that we are somehow in control of our time and we have the option to manage it, if we learn how to, helps us cope with the harsh truth:

Time is finite, and we can’t do anything about it. 

We can’t magically find 3 more hours per day. We don’t make our days longer by waking up at 5AM. And we definitely can’t have as much time as our favorite influencers - time runs differently for them.

If you are wondering what we can do, then, my answer is use our time wisely. Here are five tactics I used to maximize my time and take 2 hours off every day.

1. I protect my time

Time is one of the very few things you can’t buy back - once wasted, it’s gone forever. 

That’s why I do everything I can to save it from time sucking machines. As a freelancer, I’m sure you know a few of them:

  • Mindless scrolling on LinkedIn pretending you are ‘networking’
  • Pointless client calls that closely remember micromanagement
  • A “small tweak” to a project you delivered months ago

Not to even mention invoicing and chasing payments. And that is just the professional side of things. Then there are personal ordeals. It almost seems like the whole world is trying to get a piece of your day.

Don’t let them.

If you do everything that’s asked of you, you’ll be left with no time to do what you must or want to do. There is no better way to gain back your time than protecting it by everyone else - you just need to learn to say no.

2. I focus on what truly matters

While everyone’s talking about all the time we waste procrastinating and not doing what we need to do… have you ever thought about how much time you spend actually doing things that make no sense?

Over the years, I have probably wasted hundreds of hours. Notable mentions go to:

  • Writing 10k+ words for a business blog that I never launched (spoiler: it would have failed anyway)
  • Fine-tuning cold emails that I never sent
  • Setting goals instead of working to pursue them

While it’s easy to fall victim to shiny object syndrome, setting clear boundaries helps you to concentrate on what really matters to grow your business - and free up your time in the process.

To me, time blocking has been of great help - as I set my blocks on Sunday, I already know what to do throughout the week. I look at what I have to do with a fresh mind, and I can focus on things that will really move the needle.

3. I buy back my time

If you follow tactics 1 and 2 for long enough, something interesting happens - your time starts to be valuable enough that you are able to start buying some hours back, every week. 

Here are some ways for you to buy back some time without breaking the bank:

  • House cleaning, laundry and ironing - 1 hour of freelance work should be enough to cover at least 3 hours of basic tasks like these. If you can work 1 hour more every week, you have saved yourself 2 hours in chores
  • Admin stuff - This used to take me 4 to 5 hours every time, in the last week of the month. Hiring a VA allows you to save those precious hours, and you can get one good enough for cheap on most freelance platforms.
  • Research - You don’t even realize how much time you spend researching basic information until you start tracking your time. Advanced Google research skills can noticeably slash your research time, as well as AI tools (just remember to always double-check AI output carefully with human-written sources, as AI-generated content can often be misleading).
  • Great tools - Project management tools, invoicing tools and even basic apps can help you save a bit of time on tasks that you repeat every day. Examples? A simple text expander helped me to reduce the time I spend in my inbox by more than 50%, and a free online QR code maker can halve admin work by automating document access and data entry with quick scans.

4. I gain valuable skills

Buying back your time is fantastic, and if I could, I would buy back my whole day and spend it sipping margaritas in Hawaii.

Certain things, however, are quite difficult to outsource. I’m talking about the things that make you great at what you do (your core skills) or at selling what you do (your marketing skills). 

When a skill I don’t have is too expensive to outsource, I do something simple - I try to gain it in every way I can.

Some time along my freelancing journey, I tried to outsource an email marketing campaign to promote my translation services to Forex brokers. I spent $500 for 3 emails, and I was extremely unhappy with the result.

Frustrated by the way the campaign went, I decided I would try to learn as much as possible about cold email outreach strategies myself. Learning a valuable high income skill is not easy, but there are a lot of ways to do that:

  • Youtube videos and blogs for beginners to learn the basics
  • Books by experts in the field to go into more details
  • Online courses to refine your output

I spent $5,000+ to learn how to do outreach myself. The return, however, has been more than 100x.

5. I have built some (semi) passive income

Five years ago, I had built myself a six figure freelance business. There was just one problem.

I hated it.

I used to work 8 hours per day, and then a bit more on Saturdays. My work-life balance was non-existent, and I was desperate for time, more than anything else.

Luckily enough, making six figures helped me to build a big enough fund that I was able to invest to build some semi-passive income streams. 

Today, I am in a fortunate position - I work 20 hours per week, and replaced the income from the other 20 with a short term rental business that I own. While not entirely passive, this is a semi-passive income stream that usually takes 2 to 5 hours per week.

While it took me significant time and money to set it up, right now this single tactic allows me to skip 15 to 18 hours of work per week, every week.

Is this about time or money?

If you made it this far, you have probably noticed 2 out of 5 tactics are about making/spending money. 

This is not what your favorite time management experts recommend, and there’s a reason - increasing your purchasing power and building passive income are not “hacks”, and they take - you guessed it - time.

But in a world where time is traded for money for most people, money gives you the ability to get back your time. 

Are you interested in taking it back?

Domenico Trimboli Born and bred in Rome, Italy, Domenico became a six figure translator in 2017. Today, he blogs about translation and freelancing. Self-employed since 19, he has never worked for a boss in his life.

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