Time management is a priority issue, not a time management issue

You cannot actually manage time. No matter what you do, the same amount of it passes, and it does not pass any slower or faster. The only thing you can manage is yourself and what you set as a priority.

Recognise that your time is limited. There are only twenty four hours in the day (1,440 minutes). When you say that you’re bad at time management, what you’re really bad at is deciding your priorities.

If you can’t say no to anything, you also can’t say yes to what you think is important.

You need to plan your own day, not let others plan it for you with their emails, phone calls and meeting invites. As mentioned in the previous chapter, you need to schedule your priorities. It is vital that you stick to the schedule. Don’t change and put off your plans to work on less important but apparently “urgent” tasks.

See how much time you’re making use of

It’s important that you track your time. Track how long activities take you. Time yourself. This will give you an idea how long different tasks take and how much of your day is spent productively.

One method you can use is the pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique is named after the Italian word for tomato. The founder of this technique was an Italian named Francesco Cirillo who used a 25 minute kitchen timer (shaped like a tomato) to work in productive 25 minute blocks.

Knowing that you only have to work for a 25 minute block, followed by a short break, makes it much easier to get started on tasks that feel uncomfortable.

It’s not too difficult to make yourself focus for just 25 minutes. Once you get past the first 5 minutes, you build momentum and it becomes easier. Once you’ve done 25 minutes, it’s easier to do it again and make actual progress.

Know your life hourly (or hourly rate)

Do you know the value of your time in currency (whatever yours may be, Pounds, Dollars, etc.)?

Chances are you do.

So why walk for 30 minutes to get to the office when a £5 cab ride could get you there in 5 minutes?

You will save 25 minutes by taking the taxi and it will cost an extra £5 (over walking). You are basically paying £5 for 25 minutes of time. This works out as £12 per hour.

If your life hourly is more than £12 per hour, you should take the taxi. If it’s less, you should walk.

When you wrongly decide to walk, you could be making more money and creating future freedom for yourself by doing something more valuable than walking with those 25 minutes.

When you wrongly take the taxi you are overspending. You would be better off walking for savings of £12 per hour.

Your Life Hourly is more than just what you make in an hour. You can’t just say “I make £50,000 per year and work 50 weeks. So that’s £1,000 per week divided by 40 hours = £25 per hour.

Four hours per week of physical exercise could be worth FAR more than £25 per hour in the future as it potentially prevents health problems and improves quality of life.

James Clear states the following examples in his article on this subject:

  • Should you buy the nonstop flight and save two hours or get the flight with a stopover and save £90?
  • Should you pay a local teenager £20 to mow your lawn so you have an extra hour free on the weekend?
  • Should you spend this week working with a client that will pay you £2,000 right away or working on a business idea that could generate £20,000 over the next year?
  • Click here to read more on this subject and work out how to calculate your Life Hourly.

Why this matters

Once you know the value of your time, it becomes abundantly clear where you shouldn’t spend it. Do you really want to spend £100 per day using your time answering emails? How about £200 to sit in a meeting?

Once you know your life hourly, it becomes much easier to remove yourself from low value tasks and focus on the Most Important Things.