How to Shave 10 Hours Off Your Ministry Work Week

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Michael Hyatt shows how virtually anyone, with a little thought and effort, can shave 10 hours off their work week.

Almost everyone I know is working more time than they would like. That’s why a book like The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss has been such a big bestseller. This is a great book, but the promise is a little over the top. I don’t know of anyone, including Tim Ferriss, who really only works four hours.

But what if you could shave 10 hours off your work week? In my opinion, that is much more doable. Virtually anyone, with a little thought and effort, can do it. Here’s how:

1. Limit the time you spend online.

In my experience, the Web is most people’s #1 time sucker. Yes, I know it is a wonderful tool for research, blah, blah, blah. But I often catch myself and my family members mindlessly surfing from one page to another with no clear objective in mind. Before you know it, you can eat up several hours a day. The key is to put a fence around this activity and limit your time online. Set a timer for yourself if you have to. This is true for Web surfing, and it is also true for email. Unless you are in a customer service position where you have to be “always on,” you should check email no more than two or three times a day.

2. Touch email messages once and only once.

OK, let’s be honest. How many times do you read the same email message over and over again? Guess what? The information hasn’t changed. That’s right. You are procrastinating. I have a personal rule: I will only read each message once, then take the appropriate action: do, delegate, defer, file or delete it. I describe these in more detail in a post I made last week.

3. Follow the two-minute rule.

My to-do list is very short. It never gets longer than about 30 items. This is because I do everything I can immediately. If I need to make a phone call, rather than entering it on my to-do list, I just make the call. If I can complete the action in less than two minutes, I just go ahead and do it. Why wait? You will be amazed at how much this “bias toward action” will reduce your workload.

Conversely, when you don’t do it promptly, you end up generating even more work for yourself and others. The longer a project sits, the longer it takes to overcome inertia and get it moving again. The key is to define the very next action and do it. You don’t have to complete the whole project, just the next action.

4. Stop attending low-impact meetings.

If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on, it’s that we go to too many meetings. Either the meeting organizer isn’t prepared, the meeting objective isn’t defined or you can’t really affect the outcome one way or the other. Every meeting should have a written objective and a written agenda. If you don’t have these two minimal items, how do you know when the meeting is over? Could this also explain why meetings seem to drag on and on until everyone is worn out?

If the content of the meeting is irrelevant to you and your job, or if you don’t feel that you really add that much to the discussion, ask to be excused.

Michael Hyatt Michael is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. He writes on leadership, productivity, publishing, social media, and, on occasion, stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into one of these categories. He also occasionally writes about the resources he is discovering.

More from Michael Hyatt or visit Michael at

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  • Will

    good stuff – thanks

  • ro

    Cut the cord of your TV = your life back.

  • Jgerlach316

    Would love to comment but I’m limiting my time on line. Thanks four the advice!

  • Chris4italy

    I’m a missionary on a support raising furlough working in Real Estate in LA. This is some of the most helpful advice I think I have heard in either camp! Thank you!

  • me

    GTD + 4HWW + Inbox Zero + Death by Meeting …

    Appreciate #6 though… That pushes things forward.

  • John

    We schedule committee meetings for 6 pm on Wednesdays. Bible study starts at 7:00 We have to get done in about 45 minutes, and guess what? WE DO!

    • don

      I agree. The best way to end a meeting on time is make sure you have another appointment right after it. “Sorry, gotta go” is a great tool! :-)

  • Joe McKeever

    Publishing’s little dirty secret. I love that. So, so true. I’ve frequently thought some books would have made a great article. Doubtless the publisher said, “We can’t go with that. Can you enlarge it, pad it?” And sheep that we are (I am!), we plunk down 20 bucks and take it home because it was a great idea and had a terrific cover. — My rule is if after a hundred pages, I do not care how this book ends, then I’m through with it.


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