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How I save one hour a day

Ramit Sethi

Wondering how to save one hour a day? Here’s a productivity tip I use myself.

Years ago, I was invited to speak on some panel about technology and entrepreneurship, and the panelist sitting next to me was a senior executive at Google. This dude walked in, opened up his briefcase, and pulled out a neatly organized packet with colored Post-Its and hand-written notes. I glanced over it and nearly vomited in admiration.

You see, his assistant had prepared an entire DOSSIER (who even uses that word any more) on the event, the organizers, and the topic. It was obvious that he had never even thought about this event until seconds before it began. He was skilled enough that he could do this — and get away with it. He was an awesome panelist.

I started wondering…Why did I have to spend my days on the minutiae of figuring out where the event was? Or what I was supposed to talk about? What if I could batch all that stuff up, and leave my days open to be creative? What if the info I needed appeared EXACTLY when I needed it — not a minute before?

(Note: This is not just about speaking at a conference. Think about all the time you spend planning LOGISTICS instead of being creative and doing what you’re best at.)

For 10 seconds, I did not know what emotion to feel.

Then, I settled on one: envy.

Again, I wondered, what if I could keep my mind free — letting me be creative most of the day — and when it came down to nuts and bolts of preparation, I could walk in somewhere, confidently knowing that I had every piece of relevant information at my fingertips?

And so I built a process to do exactly this, which I want to share with one of you.

* When I travel, my appointments in NYC are automatically rescheduled (e.g., gym, lunches, etc).
* When I have a meeting, I get a text message, and I know to start getting ready. As I’m walking down the hall to grab the elevator, I open up my calendar, where I see the exact location (not stated as “123 7th Ave,” but rather “16th and 7th” so it’s easier to relay to the cab driver). I also see the agenda, any prep items I’ve prepared, and bios of the people at the meeting. I can review this all in the time it takes me to get to the meeting, aka my “Taxi time.”

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  1. avatar

    How do your assistants save 1 hour/day?

  2. avatar

    Skipping lunch!

  3. avatar

    Thanks Ramit, this is interesting… It is funny how you spend so long ‘thinking’ through logistics when really you could think them through in only 5 minutes and not bother worrying about them the rest of the time.

  4. avatar
    jack foley

    Very Good Ramit..

    Great productivity. There is a lesson to be learned here..

    Thanks for sharing

  5. avatar

    I’m tempted to enter this, just to find out how you train the assistant, because I work as a freelance assistant, and can always use input on how to improve. But I know myself, and I would never be able to delegate the kinds of things a virtual assistant does, so I’m going to stay on the sidelines this time.

    That’s not to say I can’t delegate at all, however. I am not a fan of cleaning (my house, my car, my laundry) and one of the reasons I work as a freelance assistant is that it gives me some side income which I then spend on a cleaning service, regular car washes and dry cleaning.

  6. avatar
    ita ubong


  7. avatar
    Steve Mertz

    I was shocked how much time I was wasting with my old PC. The best thing to increase my productivity happened when I fried my PC at Starbucks-spilling an entire cup of coffee on it and I bought a Mac. It’s so much faster!

  8. avatar

    How does ” i – delegate” sound ?….hope I- win !


  9. avatar

    Even if I don’t win, I would like to know how to find a good VA. At the least what company you would suggest someone brand new to delegating anything should try.

    Any Comment, Ramit?