On Time Management

“Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

– Alan Lakein

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Introduction

Hi, I know you’re super busy so this post won’t be long.

But if you are “really” busy, it might be because you’re not managing your time properly.

Curious how to make your time more productive and make the most of it?

Let’s talk about time management.

Why Managing Time

Time management is a productivity technique, or meta-activity to maximize the performance in a given time frame.

The better you get it, the more you can do, learn, and achieve on a daily basis.

The University of Tokyo conducted interesting research on students’ learning performance.

One group of students had three 15 minutes lessons, and the other had one 60 minutes one. [1]

Guess which group got a higher score? It’s NOT the one who took the longer lesson.

The former group outperformed the latter, showing an example of time management that helps you “do more with less”.

Time management is not limited to studying, of course.

Have you ever seen that person who does twice more than others in the same time frame?

The chances are that they manage their time well, knowing how to prioritize things, how to schedule, and how to take action.

Mastering Time Management

I hope you now want to know “how” to manage your time. Let’s talk about it.

Priority

The number one thing is to articulate your priority.

What do you want to achieve in the long term? in this month? And today?

Set your current focus based on your life goal, not on a quarterly target. This forces you to work on critical projects rather than things you don’t care about.

With the priorities in mind, it’s much easier to schedule your time.

Scheduling

Now on to scheduling. There are many ways to do it, but the most creative one is NOT to schedule anything.

This idea came from Marc Andreessen, a famous venture capitalist. He suggests instead of following what you set on the calendar, working on whatever is most important or most interesting, at any time. [2]

If this is too far-fetched, I recommend you block a few hours a day and work on what’s most important. But try avoid being “too busy” at all costs. This is a strong indicator that your time management is failing.

Also, cancel (or shorten) meetings as much as possible. Meetings are for decision makings and collaboration but not time to get things done.

“The longer the meeting, the less is accomplished.”

Tim Cook

Focus Time

Finally, during your “focus time”, utilize proven methods to allocate your time. There are a few ways to do it, so pick the one you like most.

  • 52 minutes work and 17 minutes break [3]
  • 90 minutes ultradian rhythms [4]
  • Pomodoro 25 minutes + 5 minutes x 4 times

Everyone has a different way to be focused and be in the zone. The important thing is sticking to a method and not to change often.

Once it becomes your habit, then you’ll realize how much productivity you’ve gained.

Afterword

“What’s the best tool to mange your time?”

For centuries humans have been thinking about making most of our time. And our ancestors built this simple tool called a clock.

Alan Lakein – one of the first thinkers of time management – said, time is irreversible and irreplaceable. [5] And there’s a truth in this.

What we all have in common is time. And watching a clock ticking is the best way to confirm we only have 24 hours.

He suggests starting with writing your life goal and scheduling your time to move towards the goal a little bit each day.

But it might be even better if you glance a clock before doing so.

Bonus

To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.

Alan Lakein

Note

[1] http://www.asahi.com/ad/15minutes/article_02.html

[2] https://pmarchive.com/guide_to_personal_productivity.html

[3] https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-rule-of-52-and-17-its-random-but-it-ups-your-productivity

[4] https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a296199.pdf

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Control-Your-Time-Life-Signet/dp/0451167724

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