The Secret to Reclaiming Your Time and Getting Rid of Stress

Mar 10, 2014
6 Min Read

In 2007, Ari Meisel was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s disease (a disease of the digestive tract) and nearly died. He was in an out of the hospital and told the disease was incurable.

But in 2011, he completed Ironman France and was declared free of all traces of the disease.

Meisel says that he achieved his good health by improving his diet and fitness, but also by finding a way to deal with stress, which he says was a big part of his illness.

What Meisel learned about how to deal with his stress and put him on the road to better health is shared in his upcoming book, “Less Doing, More Living.” He says he believes others can learn from the “less is more” philosophy that he has says can help anyone rid their lives of superfluous work and repetitive tasks that often cause stress.

“Stress is a major cause of inflammation. It taxes our nervous system in a way that is really dangerous when it becomes chronic,” he says. “I created ‘Less Doing’ with the goal of freeing up as much time as possible so people could reclaim their minds, stress less, and do the things they want to do.”

As part of that philosophy, Meisel says he uses the “80/20 rule” differently that most people who see it as a “resource allocation model.”

“For me, it's a constant reminder to track everything I do,” he says. “Nowadays it's so easy to track what you eat, how well you slept, how many emails you sent, even your blood markers. With that data comes a lot of power to find places where we can achieve more optimal results.”

Here are some suggestions from Meisel on how to reclaim your time:

  • Track productivity. Tools such as RescueTime can keep you from being distracted while can help you see at the end of the day what you got accomplished.
  • Make it simple. Create a “manual of you” that breaks down your most common processes to the fewest, most explicit steps so that the tasks can be outsourced or automated.  Think of the product assembly manuals from IKEA that provide concise, easy-to-understand instructions and you’ll get the idea of the kind of instructions that are best for automating or outsourcing.
  • Get rid of “to do” lists. Such lists only “remind you of everything you aren't getting done,” he says. “Most ‘to-do lists’ contain a number of things that you can't do right now because they are too big of a project or you are waiting on someone else. You need to single-task and keep your focus on the task you can do right now.”

For example, he suggests using, which allows you to bring things to your attention “at just the right time.” The tool’s built-in snooze functionality also can “help find that time if you don't get it right the first go around,” he says.

  • Stop running errands. Such tasks are inefficient and a waste of time, he says. It’s better to use Amazon Subscribe & Save, which allows you to "subscribe" to any non-perishable item Amazon stocks in its a warehouse such as toilet paper, toothpaste, dog food and baby diapers, he says. “You pick a quantity and a schedule, get a 20% discount and start saving thousands of hours of shopping and frustration,” he says.
  • Use “batching.” By grouping similar tasks together, you “can grease the groove and get some momentum rather than falling prey to the more common ‘gear shift’ mentality that has you working on several things at once and getting nothing done,” he explains. For example, the “Pomodoro” technique has you work for 25 minutes and then interrupt yourself to take a 5 minute break before starting over again.

“Our brains work better in sprints than marathons and sticking to a task, even for 25 minutes, has great benefits,” he says.

While Meisel says he believes batching can save most people five to 10 hours a week, you must be careful and not let it overwhelm you by taking it too far.

For example, waiting three weeks to do laundry can be overwhelming if you wait three weeks to do it instead of tackling it every week.  Not to mention that small problem of running out of clean underwear…

What time-saving strategies do you use to reduce stress?

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