10 Strategies That Helped Me Spare 20 Hours of Free Time Weekly
Tl;dr: spend a bit of your time to read this article, it will be worth it.
When I entered the first year of primary school at 6 years old, I remember contemplating time passing by.
My brother had entered secondary school which was located in another building, and I apprehended the moment of my moving with great fear.
However, looking at the 6 years that separated me from changing school, I thought this period was so long that I would probably never see the end of it.
I thought myself immortal, and I thought time was endless.
And yet…I did end up on the pavement in front of my new school six years later.
That’s how I learned time was in fact, real.
The next lesson I learned about time is that it is valuable.
It happened much later when I read MJ DeMarco’s The Millionaire Fastlane.
I subsequently shifted my mindset about time management.
In fact, I became obsessed with it and started looking for ways to get more of it, and more out of it.
After investigating, tweaking, and trying out new things like a mad man, I came up with 10 tactics that enabled me to optimize my time and save 20+ hours per week.
1. I Adopted a Carnivore Diet
A carnivore diet is a zero-carb diet allowing you to eat meat, fish, and eggs, and…that’s it. You are also allowed to drink water, but nothing else.
I won’t extend on the reason that pushed me to shift to this diet (you can read them here), but I quickly realized the numerous ways the diet was helping me gain time.
First, I stopped being hungry three times a day and switched to eating twice a day. Once when I wake up, and once around 17h00-18h00.
Second, cooking time has decreased from more or less one hour per day down to…30 seconds.
All I need is to put my meat on the pan and let it cook while I read a book or write an article. My dishes are effectively composed of one pan, one fork, one knife, and one plate.
Third, time spent in the grocery shop also decreased since all I need to buy is eggs, sparkling water, and rare household products.
Fourth, I never wait for my food to be served because I never eat out anymore :P.
Fifth, I go to the bathroom once per week.
2. I Quit Social Media
I registered on Facebook in 2009, then quit it, then signed up again in 2011 and used it every day until 2018, when I quit my acting career and no longer needed to check for castings every day.
I nonetheless kept my profile to keep a link with far-away friends and to ease the accommodation search when I move into a new city.
Quitting Facebook was actually easy since whatever I was reading there did not interest me.
Instagram was a challenge of another level, though.
Instagram was to me what Twitter is to President Trump.
I just couldn’t live without it because every time I thought or saw something funny, I’d have to share it there.
I also followed a lot of influencers that I liked, and was a huge fan of their stories.
I was so addicted that despite all restrictions I had imposed myself, I always ended up consuming content sneakily, browsing on Chrome instead of on the app directly.
It was really hard to get rid of this habit.
And yet, I eventually made it.
I forced myself to log out, established a very complicated password, and kept my phone away to avoid jumping on the platform at the first sight of boredom.
Youtube was yet another challenge.
As a proud owner of an Android phone, deleting the app was simply impossible. None of the “stop this website/app” app I had installed seemed to be properly working neither.
So I took the icon of the app and moved it the furthest away from my first screen.
Deleting social media not only helped me gain time, it also made me happier and enabled me to focus, decreasing attention spam.
3. I Live Near the Places I Must Go To
When I was a kid, I lived in a house located in the woods, away from civilization, which made commuting mandatory.
As I first moved into a city aged 19, I found out to my amazement that I could walk to a bar from my hostel without asking my parents to drive me there.
Since that day, I decided that I’d live near the place I would have to go to the most (which usually was located in the city center).
This decision considerably decreased commuting time from A to B because I’d live “close to everything”. While my friends had to take the subway, tram, or bus to join me in events, I’d simply walk there.
Or better: I’d use public bikes.
4. I Use Public Transportation and Move Around by Bike
In most cities, driving by car inside a metropolitan area will be slower than moving by bike, especially with an electric bike.
But not only.
What I love about biking is the ease and the freedom it gives you.
No need for a permit, insurance, or gas, and yet you’re still entitled to the benefits of riding on the road, reaching the top of the traffic jam because you’re slim enough to sneak your way in between the lines.
It also allows you to do some exercise.
But what about inter-city travel, might you ask?
In that case, I take public transportation and argue that it will always be faster than cars.
Since you’re not driving the train, you get the chance to get some work done. As such, taking the train for 2 hours is not a 2 hours loss, but a chance to do something for two hours.
That isn’t the case with cars simply because even if they are faster, you need to spend time driving it during which you can do little.
This feature may be one of the reasons why I like taking public transportation so much. All I need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
The mere fact that I can read a book on my way to my destination because I am not actively driving makes a long public transportation trip a joy to experience (in most cases).
Hell, I am pretty sure I subconsciously flew to some destinations just for the pleasure to read a book on the plane.
5. I Don’t Commute Thanks to the Lockdown
The safest way not to spend time commuting is simply…not commuting.
I’m lucky enough to be part of the students that graduated in June 2020 and who have never worked in an office (despite the fact they hold corporate jobs) because all of them are closed.
Considering that I was ready to study a third master to delay the inevitable time when I’d have to wear a suit and take the subway in the morning, the world’s quarantine was a real lucky strike for me.
I have since started working for a company…from home.
I officially start work at 9h30, so I wake up at 9h25 (when “working from home” is not practically translated to “working from bed”)
I’d say that not going to work helps me save at least 4 hours per day, considering I’d have to wake up, shower, eat breakfast, tie up my f***ing suit, commute…and come back.
6. I Use Tinder
Tinder is the most economical way to find love, sex, and everything in between.
Think about it.
When bars still existed, you’d have to prepare, go, hope for girls to be there, approach them, and only after a 20 minutes conversation would you be able to tell if this encounter would have a future or not.
Tinder does all the job of finding girls that you like and that like you. When you schedule a date, you know the girl is already interested since you both matched.
There isn’t more efficient than that.
While my love-life used to take the majority of my time, it now only takes a very small part and can easily be integrated into activities designed for multi-tasking, such as company conference calls, for example.
To decrease down to zero the time I spend on Tinder, the next step is to design a bot that effectively speaks with girls and organize dates for me.
7. I Call My Friends
While meeting up with friends is nice, preparing and commuting for such an activity easily eats away 1-2 hours of your time.
I started calling my friends during the lockdown and kept it going afterward, having noticed that I enjoyed it and that it made me gain a considerable amount of time.
Calling them is another way to keep the relationship alive.
8. I Stopped Drinking
I didn’t stop drinking for its own sake, but health-related reasons.
I quickly realized how much time it had helped me gain.
Goodbye difficult mornings, I can now go to a party, come home at 3 AM and still get stuff done the next day because I was sober.
I also saved a significant amount of money and made zero negative or awkward social decisions due to heavy drinking.
9. I Stopped Consuming All Media Content
This strategy deserves more than a mention in this article and I’ll get back to it in all and due form because cutting media content was life-transformative – it didn’t just save time.
For someone that could spend up to 6 hours per day reading the news on his phone, cutting all types of media content from my life made me gain an incredible amount of time while making me more productive and focused throughout the day.
It wasn’t easy though.
I said goodbye to magazines I was reading since I was 13 years old, and to a myriad of other apps and news content websites, I was a huge fan of.
Fortunately, decreasing media consumption enabled me to increase media production, which makes me much happier and fulfilled.
There is no trick to quit media consumption, you just have to do it and subsequently replace it with a less addictive activity, like reading a book, for example.
10. I Buy in Bulk
Whatever I am buying, I buy it in bulk to avoid having to go back to the shop too soon. I buy meat for 1 or 2 weeks and freeze it.
I buy my eggs and water once a week when I go to the supermarket.
Buying in bulk and freezing enables me to shop once a week instead of 4-6 times per week as I did in the past.
It is also cheaper.
The Bottom Line
We are very good to notice into what activities most of our money goes (food, habitat, mobility).
We are however less prone to do the same thing with our time.
Yet, sparing time is a bit like sparing money. If you want some back, you are going to have to change your habits and throw stuff away.
As such, I advise you to start with your phone. It is by far the most useless and time-consuming object in your life. Continue with your food. Buy frozen vegetables, they keep all of their vitamins and nutrients.
Once you took care of your phone and your food, proceed to mobility. Do you really need to go to the mall twice a week? Isn’t once enough?
Finally, think about moving closer to your home or school, even if it means paying higher rent.
After all, money comes and goes.
Time just goes.