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The Four-Day Week, from a Rebel Optimist.

11th December 2018, 17:12
People & skills
Sales & marketing
diary detox image

This post was written by Paul Holbrook, Founder of Diary Detox® and rebel optimist who, after 20 years change management experience in the City of London, decided that he’d simply had enough of watching the toxic effects of people's diaries on themselves and their people. As part of our Gloucestershire Expertise series, we are giving local leaders the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, to help other ambitious enterprises grow. If you would like to contribute to the series, please email

Paul shares his painfully tried and tested techniques, in a bid to help you shave a day off your work week…

Are your days full of back-to-back meetings? Are you missing your friends and family? Struggling to see how you're going to fit everything in? Losing sleep, worrying about your never-ending to-do list? Is your Sunday evening filled with anxiety or dread about Monday morning?

Very few people in the world are too busy, or don’t have enough time to complete their tasks. But the majority of us are very poor leaders of our time and ourselves and we don’t realise it. The good news: increasing your productivity, well-being and work-life balance doesn’t mean flying to Goa for an enlightening yoga retreat. It’s pretty simple, actually. Effective management of our time is an art and a science which, once learned, can give you a day back in your week. Every week.

No meditation required.


Whether you use that boon to put an end to Mondays in the office, you spread your tasks out to make the work days shorter, or you finally find the time to do things better or launch a new side business; you’ll have all the time you need.

Now, let’s deal with the sceptics…

What if I actually do have too much work? Like, seriously?

The thing is, all of us can convince ourselves that we have too much work. Diary Detox® will tell you if you really do. If so, then you might want to consider giving some of it to someone else. You don’t have to, but if you do the question is, what do you give away? You give away everything that can be, and keep the stuff that only you should do. Diary Detox® also tells you which is which, and it’s often not what you expect.

But how in-control of my own time am I?

You are in complete control of your time. You’re not in prison (even though it can feel like it sometimes). If you work for someone else, it’s of no benefit to them if you’re performing below your best. Most of the time, they are simply not aware that you are overloaded and not able to contribute your best. Diary Detox® turns you diary in to a heatmap and helps get the message across visually.

What if I’m being micro-managed?

Sometimes, management can feel like micro-management. Taking more notice of what you are doing is what a manager should do if they become concerned that things aren’t going well. You simply need a common language that will allow you and them to communicate what’s really going on. When they get it, they’ll back off! 

What if I’m a serial procrastinator?

If you can see that the thing you are procrastinating over is going to help you grow, you’ll soon procrastinate less. If it’s not going to help you grow then maybe you should stop procrastinating and just stop doing it. The colour-coding of your diary helps with this.

OK…will this cost me any money, will I need to buy new software and tools?

No extra software or tools are required, you already have everything you need. The only thing that will cost you is the Diary Detox® itself. At the moment you have two options. You can either have a personal Diary Detox® delivered in person at a place and time to suit you, or you can attend a Diary Detox® Workshop with five others just like you. If you run a company, you can also have a Diary Detox® Workshop run exclusive for you at your premises.

If it’s so effective, why doesn’t everybody do it?

Because it’s new. Not everyone has heard of it yet.

What are the biggest time-stealers?

That’s easy. Adobe commissioned a report about this:

People are attending 60 meetings per month and at least 30% are deemed a complete waste of time altogether. In my experience, the wasted ones represent far more than 30%.

We spend four hours a day using email. Only 14% are deemed critical to our role.

We spend 2.1 hours per day being interrupted and 28% of that time is spent switching between tasks. 80% of interruptions are trivial.

What three things do I need to stop doing?

Is that a trick question?
Stop going to meetings you don’t need to and make sure they last only as long as they need to.
Stop relying on email for your primary communications.
Stop making it easy for others to interrupt you. 

What three things do I need to start doing?

Start asking others what they want from you before accepting a meeting.
Talk to people in person, via video or phone, or via instant chat (in that order). Email should be the last resort.
Respect your own time more and others will start to respect it too.

Where can I find out more?

You can follow Diary Detox® on LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter. You can read more at


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