Jan. 30, 2022

The 1 Day Refund by Donna McGeorge: how to reclaim a day back in your week

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About the book

Are you constantly juggling multiple tasks and operating at 100 per cent or more? Do you feel you are permanently on the treadmill and can’t get off? If you needed extra capacity for something urgent, could you find it?

In The 1-Day Refund, best-selling author and time management expert Donna McGeorge shows you how to recover an extra 15 per cent of your time-10 minutes per hour, 1 hour per day or a full day each week-to think, breathe, live and work. By creating more space, you’ll discover a new ability to focus on what’s truly important to you.

 With The 1-Day Refund, you’ll be on your way to getting back a full day, so you can take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way.


About the author

Donna is passionate about enhancing the large amount of time we spend in our workplace (too much, for many) to ensure it is effective and productive, as well as enjoyable.

Donna has worked with managers and leaders throughout Australia and Asia–Pacific for over 20 years. She delivers practical skills, training, workshops and facilitation to corporates — such as Nissan Motor Company, Jetstar, Medibank Private and Ford Motor Company — so they learn to manage their people well and produce great performance and results.

She lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland, a region known for its world-class beaches, but her most creative moments come while sipping tea on her balcony, gazing at the meandering waterways, alongside her husband, Steve, and dog, Prudence.



Big idea #1 — Aim for 85

We need to rethink the idea of capacity. Most of us live at 100% (and some of us at 120%) in how we work and live. But Donna challenges us to aim for 85% , and design our lives and work around that.

Professional sports people do this, knowing that it’s better for endurance as they can be more relaxed. Actor Hugh Jackman also uses this 85% rule when he is performing as it allows him to be more relaxed and leaves his brain with a bit of extra capacity for mulling things over and being more creative.

This 15% buffer in our lives allows us not to rush, building in time for those delayed trains or meetings that run over, or any of these unexpected time when life happens to us. And 15% of seven days is one, so by operating at 85% you get this extra day back.

Donna uses a nice analogy in the book of a cup of tea; carrying a cup of tea at 100% full is very hard to maneuverer, whereas a cup at 85% is a breeze, with much less risk of spillage and mess.

Donna talks about four different types of capacity;

  1. Surge capacity; takes more energy but we don’t have much time, it’s necessary in some cases, but it’s not sustainable.
  2. Wasted capacity; when we have too much time and not much energy we’re pottering around wasting time doing ‘busy work’.
  3. Impaired capacity; where we have low energy and not much time, we’ve use all our energy at work and we have none left for our family and our friends and our hobbies.
  4. Adaptive capacity; our ability to modify for changes in environments as, and when they happen. This is where we want to be, and operating at 85% allows us to operate at this adaptive capacity.

Big idea #2 — Create space

We need to offset our off-kilter use of capacity. We need to make space in our lives and our days. And Donna has put a four-part model together that considers our physical and mental capacity, plus our personal and our professional lives.

  1. Mental capacity/personal lives: breathing space. We need to let go and disengage with people or things that bring us stress or anxiety and maximise for joy.
  2. Physical capacity/personal lives: living space. We need to free up by decluttering and thinking more functionally about the space we’re using to live in.
  3. Physical capacity/professional lives: working space. Here we need to level up by defragging our days and find chunks of time to work, not cracks of time. This might involve improving our systems or delegating work.
  4. Mental capacity/professional lives: thinking space. We need to take time out and decelerate and take time out in order to let our brains work at their best way with that space where we can make those connections and our brains can work as they have best evolved to work.

Big idea #3 — Reclaim a day

This is really the whole purpose of the book; the 15% of extra space and capacity is roughly one day per week.

If you were one of the many people who found yourself not having to commute as a result of working from home over the last couple of years, that’s an easy 8-10 hours a week that you would get back. If someone had told you in 2019, that you would have an extra 8-10 hours per week, the following year, or for the next couple of years, what would you have said, what would you have wanted to spend that time on?

Donna shares that Australians work 3.2 billion hours per year in unpaid overtime. And for what? Do we really want this time many of us gained to be absorbed back into emails and busy work? 

This is the time to be intentional and rethink capacity and space for our life, our brains, our relationships, and our work.



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