Are you a generous person?
Do you want happier friends?
Then share the wealth!
Man reveals how he taught a depressed Mom of 3 to master time with hacks few people know.
Great time management gives you bigger results for less time investment. It creates more time freedom. It frees up your schedule, increases your productivity, reduces your stress and gives you more time to spend with people you care about.
Note: You’ll get a ton of value on this page, and I normally charge clients thousands to teach what I cover here. If you want to get the most out of it, read it carefully and absorb it fully. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing it just because it’s free.
…that everything you’ve heard about procrastination, productivity, and overwhelm was wrong?
My partner Cyn didn’t.
When we met in 2018, she thought her understanding of time was “just fine.”
She was constantly late, frequently letting things fall through the cracks, and forever feeling guilty about her less-than-stellar productivity.
So over the course of four years, I ended up blowing the doors wide open for her on just how easy, fun, and impactful time management can be…
…and she transformed into someone who could balance work, family, hobbies, beauty, a social life, and more, easily.
The first problem she had was not understanding just how important time management actually is, so I told her the story of Amy: a frazzled, vacation-starved card-maker.
Amy yearned for a vacation from life, but kids were failing school and constant clashes with her husband, Ray, made it impossible.
Desperate, she turned to her father, Tony, a successful entrepreneur who’d also raised a family.
“Money can solve it all, Amy. Focus on your biz, and then you’ll have more time for family.”
Amy took his advice, pouring herself into card-making.
While her income surged, her home life suffered.
Sleep-deprived, she struggled to wake up early, making her kids late for school and damaging grades further. Exhaustion strained her relationship with Ray further. She couldn’t keep up with customers, Etsy reviews plummeted, and she still couldn’t afford a tutor.
Burnt out, she stumbled upon a video titled ‘Death & Due Dates’ by J-Ryze, who revealed the secrets of how successful women like Oprah and Marilyn never let anything “fall through the cracks.”
“These folks achieve more than entire generations of average families. They create empires and leave huge legacies. It’s tempting to say “well, they have money,” but the answer is deeper. Because they came from poor backgrounds. J.K. Rowling raised her kid while on state benefits. Halle Berry lived in a homeless shelter in her 20s.
How do they accomplish so much, so smoothly? The answer will surprise you.”
“Their secret was they reminded themselves that we all die, so they treasured every moment, and matched their agenda to their ambitions.”
Suddenly, a realization dawned on Amy.
Her time-management sucked.
Determined to change, Amy embraced the 15 time-management hacks offered at the end of the video.
Her family, business, and well-being were flourishing.
She had turned her children’s academic struggles around by teaching them effective time hacks, eliminating the need for a tutor. Her relationship with Ray had blossomed, replacing arguments with affection. Her tips helped Ray free up time, so he even volunteered to help with her Etsy store.
The icing on the cake?
The time she learned to save, led to more money, which let her book two tickets to the Bahamas.
What did that story mean to you?
To Cyn, it meant that if she wanted to live a full, prosperous life like Rowling or Berry, with plenty of time for all of her dreams…
…she’d have to do what they did.
I knew she’d have to focus on using her time wisely, and learn any time hacks she could, but I wasn’t sure if she did, so I asked her this:
And her reflexive response was to say “Of course not.” (Because who wants to openly admit they waste time?)
So I tried again. “OK, great. But would you say you could use your time even more wisely than you already do? Would you say there’s room for improvement?”
This time she said “Yes.” We were getting somewhere.
I followed up with “Can you name the six most common time-wasters people are sleeping on?”
Cyn bit her lip unconsciously, and I imagined the gears turning in her head. Letting her off the hook I said, “Here, I’ll run them down and you can speak up if you disagree with any of them.
1. People-Pleasing – Time is precious, and if you spend it doing things just to get others to like or value you, you’ll feel like you’re wasting time and avoiding your dreams.
Your dreams and desires are worthy and valuable, focus your time on them, not on pleasing others. If you say ‘yes’ to tasks without thinking them through deeply, you’re throwing your time away.
2. Distraction & Doom Scrolling – Do you really, truly focus on your “list?” Do you focus on achieving your dreams and desires? Or do you throw seconds, minutes, and hours away on distraction? If you were to go to the settings on your phone and check your ‘screen time’, would it say 15 to 30 min. a day?
Or would you have spent many hours on your phone, avoiding achieving tasks that matter?
3. Spending Time Frivolously – Time isn’t money, but it operates similarly. Both can be ‘spent,’ and if you spend the 24 hours you’re given every day, on things you don’t want to do, or don’t truly value, you’re spending poorly.
If you’re spending time at a job that makes you miserable, start spending it on finding a more fulfilling occupation. If you’re spending too much time on the dishes, instead spend it on finding better dish soap, renovating your sink, or investing in a dishwasher.
4. Unrealistic Planning (What Vs. How) – Instead of saying the “what”, such as “I’ll do the groceries on Monday,” say the “how”, such as “If I finish my assignment on Sunday night, I can make a grocery list Monday morning, and reach the store by Monday afternoon.”
People who say the former waste huge amounts of time and end up doing everything late, because they’re over-focused on the “what”, when what really affects our time is “how” we do the things we choose to do.
5. Trash Tier To-Do Lists – Disorganized to-do lists, spread out over your phone, email, calendar, and sticky notes just eat up your time and add mental stress.
Organized to-do lists kept in a single location with discipline, and itemized with proper priority free up your time and reduce mental load. Make sure you practice better list-making.
6. Avoiding Change – As a child, you did things in inefficient time-wasting ways. As you grew, you applied yourself and discovered better ways to do them. As a teenager, you did things more efficiently, but still not as efficiently as you could, so as you grew, you applied yourself and found even better ways.
As adults though, many of us stop this process. We get complacent and stay in our comfort zones, assuming that however we’re currently achieving tasks is “the best” way, or that it’s “not worth” pursuing increased efficiency.
We avoid changing how we approach life, and piss our time away by doing so.
Cyn stared at me, frozen like a deer in headlights.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Yeah… I just… wow. I do all of those things. I must be wasting insane amounts of time. And in my decades on earth, no one bothered to warn me about any of this stuff till now.”
“Ah, yeah. That’s true. You’ve been lied to by parents, teachers, the media, and more. Meanwhile you’re still crazy busy, constantly playing catch-up, with zero time off.”
“It’s not your fault. If you’re not taught how to master time, then you’ll end up a slave to it. I was just like you, until I learned the hidden time management secrets that put the power back in my hands.”
“Well, you were never meant to live that way. People who use their time wisely, get more out of life, and are much more valuable to society, so they’re rewarded accordingly.”
The truly productive worker either gets promoted, headhunted by a better company, or quits and becomes an entrepreneur.
The truly efficient wife either gets showered with love by a husband, has time open in her schedule to work on her relationship, or has time to explore divorce.
The truly organized mother either has energy leftover for fun, time for a social life, or is free to earn more through Etsy or a part-time job.”
“Sign me up.”
“Okay, but first…
If you search on Google or YouTube, you’ll see many common time management tricks and tips, and while they’re not ‘bad’ exactly, they rarely make a sustainable improvement in the life of someone who struggles with time management.
You’ll see time hacks such as:
“I mean… those don’t sound too bad.” Cyn said.
“Sure, these can help, and we’ll discuss some of them further, but you’ll fall flat using them if you haven’t understood the foundations of time management first.”
“I thought I did understand the foundations, but after all we’ve discussed, I’m thinking maybe not?”
“Almost certainly not. No offense, but the core time management principles are rarely taught, so nearly no one is aware of them.
Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered.
In the rest of our conversation, we’re going to explore 15 time management hacks together.”
“Hooray!” Cyn took out her notebook and pen, “I’m ready.”
“Okay, the first eight of them are the core time management foundations that let you navigate any time issue with ease.
The remaining seven are time management techniques you can use for quick wins if you’re already decent at the foundations.
Here we go…
“I’m using that as my page title.”
“Sure thing. The first one is the most important.
“Heh, I know most people think that, but the people who live the fullest lives, and who get the most out of their moments here on earth, are the ones who are at peace with death.
Steve Jobs, for example, accomplished an insane amount of stuff in his life, and this famous quote of his is the main reason he did:
‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.’
“That’s from his famous university speech I think.”
“Yes. And who do you think makes wiser decisions with their time, someone who knows the clock is ticking, and they better make the best of every second, or someone blissfully ignorant of death, frittering their time away on meaningless drama?”
“Wow, yeah, the person who’s aware of death.”
“Exactly. Let’s say you’re on a mission to raise a healthy family or grow a healthy business. Can you really let another day march you towards death while spinning your wheels in drama? Or must you make a change?”
“I must make a change.”
“Right. And could you really let washing the dishes take up most of your week? Or must you find a more efficient solution?”
“I must find a more efficient solution.”
“There you go. Keeping death in mind is the number one time management hack nobody uses.”
This tip alone can change the game for you on how fast you realize your dreams.
On to the next.
“Wait, what? Procrastination doesn’t exist?”
“It doesn’t, at least not in the way most people think about it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Say you have something on your list that you’d like done. You know that getting it done will somehow improve your life, that’s why it’s on your list in the first place. But you voluntarily delay or dismiss it… Would you call that procrastination?”
“Uh, ya, that’s basically the definition of procrastination.”
“But isn’t that just making an irrational, emotional choice, and slapping a fancy name on it?”
“Hmm… when you put it that way, yes, I guess it is.”
“And do we really need to give the irrational choices people make fancy names?”
“And do these irrational choices go away once we finally deal with our messed up emotions or beliefs?”
“Er, I’m not sure.”
“Think about it. Aren’t people who make poor timing choices just like those who make irrational eating decisions or relationship decisions?”
“Hmm. Seems likely, yes.”
“Good point, yeah.
So exactly what ‘shit’ must we deal with to make more rational procrastination choices?”
“I could write a whole book on this, but this procrastination article on Zapier is a great start.
Anyway, personally I simplify the choice of when to do stuff. I don’t call it ‘procrastination’ since it’s really just about finding a balance.”
“Yes. Every goal we have is a choice that falls somewhere between ‘I’ll do it later,’ and ‘it must be done now.’
If you say ‘I’ll do it later,’ what is likely to happen? Are you likely to nail it with perfect timing?”
“Nah, I’m likely to put it off, rush it at the last minute, or be too late entirely.”
“And if you ‘drop everything to do it now,’ what is likely to happen?”
“I’ll get annoyed that I put my stuff aside for some interruption, then feel like I have no time for my things.”
“So if putting it off ‘til ‘later’ isn’t the solution, and doing it instantly isn’t the solution… what is?”
“Finding the sweet spot in the middle?”
Some things are best done ‘earlier’ than others, ahead of the due date.
Others are best delayed until conditions are better, or till a more efficient solution is available.”
“How do I know the difference?”
“Like any good time manager, you do it through mistakes and improving through practice.”
“Don’t worry, you can get a jump on this by testing yourself. Practice in your mind.”
“Hey, you may surprise yourself at how good you are at making correct choices.
For example, is it better to restock your house with tampons ahead of time, or put it off ‘til the last minute?”
“Ooh, it sucks to run out, definitely restock ahead of time.”
“And if a new iPhone launches, is it best to buy it immediately without waiting for prices to drop, or to gauge it’s performance… or is it better to wait until later, when more info is available?”
“Wait for sure, those things can be buggy and way overpriced.”
“What about if one of your customers is disrespecting you, is it better to set a boundary immediately, or let them disrespect you once or twice first?”
“Setting boundaries feels so awkward…”
“So delay it? Get them used to disrespecting you? Knowing you’ll have to set a boundary much later anyway?”
“Gah, no. I guess earlier is better, or it’ll just be a nightmare when they’re used to walking all over me.”
“See? Three for three.
You’re great at this. All you have to do is practice more, and you’ll make well-timed, rational decisions that serve you, and procrastination will never be ‘a thing’ ever again.”
“Right, because all it ever was in the first place was bad choices about tasks, and those irrational choices go away as soon as we deal with our shit, just like bad choices about food or relationships do too.”
“It’s nice to see you picking it up so well.”
“Yay! What’s next?”
This one will help you a ton with what we just talked about.”
“Deciding when to do things?”
“Yes. Imagine a graph with two axes, kind of like the crosshairs on a gun.”
“Sheesh, so violent. Can I imagine the crossbars of a compass instead?”
“Sure. The vertical line of the cross is labeled ‘vital’ at the top, and ‘trivial’ at the bottom. The horizontal line is labeled ‘pressing’ at the right, and ‘shelfable’ at the left.
This gives us four quadrants, can you tell me what they are?”
“Uh… quadrants? Gross. This feels like boring math. I skipped every class I could.”
“Fine. Imagine we divided a paper into four, giving us four sections.
We then label them ‘do now’, ‘do A.S.A.P.’, ‘do soon’, and ‘do never.’”
“Ah, much simpler, thanks.”
“Everyone is placing tasks into these sections constantly in their mind.”
“Yes, I place some into ‘do now’, and I place some into ‘do never.'”
“Right, and everyone needs practice in placing things better, you and I included.”
“I think I get it.
Putting ‘film youtube short’ in the ‘do now’ category means I’m rushing around creating content, when really, I should’ve been taking care of customers, looking after kids, or taking self-care time.”
“Spot on. Unfortunately, most of us place items in the wrong category, even wasting our time on things that are obvious ‘do never’ candidates.”
“OK, I can do this, and I see how it’s gonna help a lot, but what happens if someone throws a wrench into my plans, or adds an extra task to my list?”
“Great question, and it brings us to time management foundation #4…
This is basically creating mini urgency grids for each ‘section’ of your day, or month, or year.”
“Do I really need to sit down and make a separate grid for, like… morning, noon, and night?”
“No, after a bit of practice, you’ll do these in your head automatically throughout the day.
I haven’t had to actually draw one of these since I was eighteen.”
“Whew, okay. Can you explain ‘urgency chunking’ further?”
Instead of putting your entire days tasks into one grid, you make a pre-lunch grid that answers: ‘what is most pressing and vital before lunch at noon?’”
“Ah, I get it, and once lunch is over, I make a new grid answering: ‘what is most pressing and vital before my Zoom Call?’ And I can ask the same for ‘what’s pressing this week,’ right?”
“Perfectly said, you get it.”
“Great, but that still doesn’t tell me what to do with wrenches in plans.”
“This is where we ‘surf priorities.’”
“Now we’re talking surfing? Hello? Mix metaphors much?”
“I know. Just go with it.
Let’s say you have your pre-Zoom Call urgency grid all laid out in your head.
You feel like you have your matrix perfectly planned, with a bit of time to spare.”
“Fine, but let’s say one of my kids spills a huge pot of spaghetti in the kitchen.”
So suddenly, your urgency grid has changed, right?
Now it’s time to surf.
If life throws a wave at you, adjust your surfboard and catch it.
What section would you put ‘clean up spaghetti’ in?”
“Do now, for sure.”
“Is it really though?
What would happen if you just left it there for a while?
Maybe you make your kids play outside or in their rooms? Would the world end?”
“No, but the spaghetti would dry there.”
“True. But could you google how to get dried spaghetti off of tile?”
“So although it feels strange, you could actually put ‘clean-up spaghetti’ into the ‘do soon’ section rather than panicking and throwing it into ‘do now’, yes?”
“And what does that do for your urgency grid, and pre-Zoom schedule?”
“It makes it much easier.”
That’s the power of shifting things around in your urgency grid, hour by hour, section by section.
That’s the power of prioritizing well.
When life throws a wrench in your plans, you just re-prioritize things until you feel satisfied with your urgency grid.”
“This does seem powerful.
But what if during my Zoom call, I hear my kids crying from outside?”
“You tell me.
You don’t think Mel Robbins has ever had her kids interrupt a Zoom Call?”
“Of course she has.”
“She probably tells the caller to hold on while she goes and deals with the kids, and then comes back?”
“Sure, or she gracefully apologizes and says she’ll have to reschedule.
Then with the Zoom call ended and off her plate, she’s opened up time to deal with the kids and clean-up the spaghetti.
“You’re right. It is simple.
Just surf whatever life throws at me, and adjust my urgency matrix.
So why do I make it so complicated?”
“Ah, that’s a giant psychological conversation about how you were trained by society, and learning to break societal shackles.”
“Okay, another time. What’s the next time management principle?”
“Is it just me, or does this one sound kinda kinky?”
“Shush. Life is constantly serving up opportunities to you. It’s kind of like a never-ending train going by.”
“Because life is a train of never-ending opportunities, most folks think they can just sit around, miss opportunities, and let things slide.”
“Isn’t that true, though?”
“You tell me. You’re getting older, your biological clock is ticking, you can’t party like you used to, are you sure it’s wise to sleep on opportunities to get closer to your dreams?”
“Hmmm, maybe not.”
“Say your friend Latoya offers you a laser printer, which you’ve been eagerly waiting for, because it would let you print more stickers and flyers for your card-making business.”
“And let’s say you ‘don’t feel like carrying it home’ right now, so you don’t get it that day.
Then let’s say tomorrow your ‘schedule fills up’ quickly and you don’t have a chance to pick up the printer. Some emergency happens the third day, and you don’t get it then either.
The following week, you finally decide to get the printer, but ‘Toya tells you her sister gave it away and apologizes.”
“Yeah. And not only are you out a printer for months till you save up for it, you’re out a few hundred bucks to buy your own when you eventually do have the budget, plus you’re out all the extra sales your business could’ve made during those months, plus you’re out all the referrals from happy customers you could’ve gotten…
…if only you changed your attitude and pounced on the opportunity when it was in front of you.”
“Holy… have I been setting myself back in such huge ways every time I ‘don’t feel like’ doing something?”
“Well, not always, but probably more often than you’d prefer. Most people fall into this.
They simply don’t see the hidden costs of letting opportunities pass them by, or think that the abundance of opportunities life provides is reason enough to dismiss and disrespect them.”
“Yep. You never know when a train-car is going to lock its doors, or how much of life you’ll throw away while waiting for a similar one to come along.”
“I’m going to start pouncing on opportunities way more often, and with a way better attitude, I swear.”
“Good. Because if you ignore or delay something, when you know in your gut you should be taking action on it, it just gets worse.
When you push things to the last minute, to the edge, you end up paying for it. Just don’t go overboard and become ‘clingy’, ‘attached’, and ‘desperate’ with your opportunities.”
“I’ll keep it chill. What’s time hack number six?”
Life has given us the ability to multitask, splitting our focus slightly, as well as the ability to focus, putting other tasks to the side.
In this age of having screens constantly around us and headphones constantly in our ears… Can you guess which one people lean towards more?”
“Multitasking, I’d say.”
“Yes. But what about your heroes? The people you look up to.
Do you think they’re constantly pumping feeds, memes, videos, and audios into their senses, or do you think they minimize distractions, buckle down, and focus on what’s important to them?”
“And which benefits them more in achieving their dreams? The ability to split their focus, or their ability to hyperfocus?”
“Probably hyperfocus. Multitasking’s really only good when you have super mundane tasks to do.”
“Right. And if your life is full of super-mundane tasks that *allow* you to multitask, what does that mean about your life choices?”
“It means you’ve chosen to do lots of bullshit that doesn’t challenge you or require your focus, leaving you free to spam Netflix.”
And there’s even more problems from multitasking.
Have you heard of the ‘flow state’?”
“That’s when you get in the zone and become super-creative and super-productive, right? I’m like that when I’m card-making sometimes.”
“Indeed. And what happens when the kids interrupt you from card-making?
Do you stay in the flow state, getting a ton of value out of every creative moment?
Or do you get ejected from the flow state, and take a while to get back into it, possibly not even managing to do so?”
“That is called the ‘cost of task-switching.’ When we switch tasks, our brain and nervous system have to do quite a bit of work to get us prepared for the new task.
We may not notice it, but it is a draining experience.
Switch back to the original task, and our body goes through the adaptation again, draining us once more.
Switch a third time, and we start to feel tired, annoyed, guilty, resentful, etc.
Switch a fourth, and even though we were working on our dreams, we give up on them for the day, thinking ‘we’ll try again tomorrow.’
Do you believe this kind of behavior is how the people you look up to live such great lives?”
“But be honest, don’t you switch tasks often, rarely keeping yourself in the flow state for anything but card-making?”
“Oh honey, I know, but am I right?”
“And if you want to live a fulfilling life, do you think the flow state should only happen rarely, and be interrupted constantly by switching tasks?”
“So, what would happen if you practiced focusing more, leaving multi-tasking for only very rare, mundane-tasked occasions?”
“I’d get more done, be more efficient, and move faster towards my dreams.”
“Which is more stressful, focusing on one task at a time, or trying to juggle many tasks?”
“What delivers higher quality of work, focus or multitasking?”
“Which is more efficient generally, focus or task-switching?”
“When do you absorb more information, when you’re focused or multitasking?”
“When I’m focused.”
“Sounds like you’ve got this one down pat.
All of nature’s creatures are extremely attuned to their stress levels…
…and they take immediate action to soothe them whenever they’re too high.
Humans are designed to do the same, but most of us are out of practice, with little interest in shaking the rust off.”
“What’s that got to do with time management?”
“Think about it. If a dog is trying to eat it’s dinner, but a strange noises raises it’s stress level, what does it do?”
“Stops eating, goes alert, and checks it out.”
“Right. And if the pooch discovers the noise is an intruder, does it fret about it’s interrupted meal? Or simply prioritize dealing with the intruder?”
“Prioritizes the intruder.”
“I don’t know.”
“Because the dog is attuned to whatever is most stressful in its life, and is constantly changing to reduce major stressors. The dog knows once it deals with the intruder, it can go back to eating in peace, stress-free.”
“Hmm, that does make sense.”
“Of course it does, nature designs things incredibly well. And what if the dog’s owner comes home while it’s back to finishing its meal? What does it do?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Me neither, but I can tell you this: If a lack of food was stressing the dog out most, it would ignore it’s owner and finish eating. If a lack of human connection was stressing the dog out most, it would interrupt its dining a second time and greet its owner instead.”
“So you’re saying even doggos have an urgency matrix in their head, and are constantly checking ‘vital and pressing’ ‘do-now’ things off their list, to reduce their stress levels?”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
“This stuff is insane. Seriously. Thank you so much. What’s the 8th foundation?”
“How was I taught wrong?”
“Were you taught that it’s possible to ‘be busy?’”
“Well it’s not.”
“Hello? Of course it’s possible.”
“No, I swear. A baby has 24 hours in a day, is it ever ‘not doing something?’”
“Sometimes it’s sleeping. Or just staring at the ceiling.”
“Sure, but isn’t that baby choosing to do something with its moments? Isn’t it always ‘busy’ with something?”
“How about a teenager? Is a teenager ever not doing something?”
“Sometimes they’re just playing video games or watching Netflix.”
“But isn’t that just a teenager choosing to do something with their 24 hours? Even if it’s something you don’t approve of, or consider productive?”
“And when I was homeless, whether I was hustling like crazy to make ends meet and find shelter, or I decided to lay on a park bench, give up, and pray to die… wasn’t I ‘busy’ with something for each of my 24 hours?”
“And isn’t Beyonce either busy working on an album, busy having meetings, busy performing, busy with Jay Z, busy with her kids, or busy with self-care?”
“So no matter what human we look at…
…none is actually ‘busier’ than the other, all of them are simply choosing to spend their daily 24 hours differently, right?
None of them can actually squeeze in 25 hours.
And none of them can only spend 23, can they?”
“I guess not.”
“So does ‘being busy’ exist, or is every human free to spend their 24 hours however they deem wise, none ever ‘busier’ than the others?”
“Everyone’s free to spend their time, no one’s any busier than others.”
“And what does this mean about ‘free time’, as well?”
“It means all our time is ‘free’ to do with as we please, and it’s up to us to use it wisely.”
“So those are the core time management foundations that most people don’t know, haven’t been taught, and haven’t practiced.
If you apply them, you’ll get way more value out of your time, make more money, enjoy more travel, or realize more of whatever dreams you happen to have.
Next we’ll dig into…
Cyn’s time management lessons with me were going well, and she was slowly-but-surely mastering her time and schedule.
“Since you’ve gotten the hang of the core principles of time management, now it’s time to give you some of the practical tips and tricks.”
“Sounds good. What’s first?”
“That sounds like three tricks.”
“It does, but it’s not.
The idea here is you look at the things you’re spending your time on, categorize them into one of these three categories, and then resolve them accordingly, one by one, until all you’re left with are things that are essential to a fulfilling life.”
“Don’t worry, it’s way easier than it seems. You just ask yourself a few questions about any task, and it’ll sort itself out.”
“Is this repetitive, mundane, undesirable task something I could automate with a machine, software, or AI?
If so, automate it.
If not, is this undesirable task something I could delegate to a volunteer, contractor, or employee?
If so, delegate it.
Is this undesirable task not something I can automate, or delegate, but I still don’t want to do it? Eliminate it. Just drop it from your life, consequences be damned.”
“Hmmm, that actually makes a lot of sense.”
“Good. Try it. Let’s say you don’t like doing captions for your card-making videos–”
“–ask yourself the three questions about it.”
“OK, then I think I can automate it.
I’ve heard about transcription services. I’ll just have to see if there’s any free or affordable ones, experiment, and tada!”
“Next, let’s say you don’t like editing your card-making videos–”
And I asked myself the questions, and the answer is, I can delegate it. Maybe my kid wants to learn video editing, or someone on Reddit or Craigslist is looking to build their portfolio, or I can sell a few more batches and hire somebody.”
“Bam. You’ve gotten the hang of it. And if you really hated it, and couldn’t automate or delegate it, you could become a twitch streamer, because streams are unedited.”
“Oh, wow. There’s way more options than I realized.”
“Yep, this is what pro time hackers do.
They repeat this process over and over with many things, and they end up with everything they dislike doing automated, delegated, or eliminated. Then everyone is jealous of them.”
“I can’t even tell you how valuable all this stuff is to me, and how excited I am to try it.”
“I’m glad, but the next one usually ruffles some feathers.”
“Meh, anything that mentions money bothers somebody.”
“Yep, but I’m just trying to help.”
“Okay, well how does money buy my broke ass some time?”
“Those high-achievers mentioned in Amy’s story, J.K. Rowling, Halle Berry, etc. were all broke once. But any time they earned a bit of money, they looked for time buybacks.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means they made sure to invest their income wisely in things that bought their time back. For example…
When a lump sum came in, it might’ve been tempting to blow it on Starbucks, but they knew that if they used it to automate something…
…they’d have more time to pitch publishers or audition more, thus buying their time back and earning even more money.
When they looked at their monthly smoking budget, they realized that if they cut back their habit a little…
…it’d free up funds that they could direct towards hiring babysitters, contractors, and other advisors who would take unpleasant tasks off their hands, leaving them free to focus on what’s really important.
This loop of earning some money, using it to free up precious time, then putting that free time towards even more money-making opportunities is what let them soar out of the hole of poverty.
It’s how they gained more money, which gained them more time, which gained them even more money, which gained them even more time.
And once they had an abundance of both of those things, they were in the position everyone is jealous of.
They had all the resources necessary to go on vacation, take personal time, spend time with family, start a new business, you name it.”
“Wow, I’m not sure I fully understand, but I’m getting the idea, and I bet if I practice it along with the other tips, I’ll get the hang of buying my time back too.”
This one works best when combined with the first principle though.
If you know you’re eventually going to die, and you see a chance to buy your time back, it’s much easier to take the leap or the apparent ‘gamble’ and spend money on it.”
“Totally! I was scared to buy Xylitol because it’s like ten times the price of sugar.”
“So what made you pull the trigger and purchase it?”
“I realized I was wasting hours of my day in pain, not helping anyone. I was even sucking up all my partner’s time, too, as I writhed in agony trying to survive on sugar.”
“How much time do you think you’ve saved by spending twenty bucks on monk fruit sweetener?”
“God, probably at least forty hours already, and I just started.”
“So you bought back an entire work week. How much would you say that’s worth?”
“Let’s say $800.”
“So was that $20 gamble on xylitol worth it, for the chance to buy back an entire workweek?”
“The same thing goes for replacing things like dull knives or decaying pans.
Most people don’t realize how much time they waste trying to cut food or clean gunk of dishes. Most people don’t realize how much time they’d buy back for spending even $20 or so on new tools.
And because most people don’t know this, they cling to every dollar as if it’s life or death, but since we all die anyway, the only way to truly live is to invest your dollars wisely, to buy back our time, rather than cling to our dollars while we waste time on the most efficient things ever…
without even realizing it.”
Cyn’s eyes rolled up and she let out a giant exhale.
“I am one of those people.
I’m scared to invest in practically everything. Especially anything new that might automate or delegate tasks and reclaim my time. What’s wrong with me?”
“It’s all good. Most people are like this, and getting in the habit of buying time back takes practice. You’ll get there.”
“Well, I better get there sooner than later. Dang.”
“Heh, I know the feeling. Anyway, once you understand automation, delegation, and buying-back time, it becomes quite easy to do time hack 11.”
“Dude, I hate systems, and 100% do NOT do this.”
So you don’t have a system for getting out of bed?
You don’t hit snooze 3x exactly, then practice gratitude, then make the bed, then efficiently start the kettle boiling while you use the bathroom?”
Cyn blushed. “OK, I do that, but never thought of it as a system.”
“Mm-hmm. And you don’t have a routine for washing dishes, where you scald everything with hot water, let it soak off most of the food while you wrap up left-overs, so it’s then easy for you to scrub any extra away?”
“Er, yes, I do dishes like that each time.”
“And did you always do it that way, or did you come up with this efficient technique through trial and error, over time?”
“Yeah, that. The latter.”
“And how do you react if someone throws a wrench in your process? If, say, an extra body or two tries to enter the kitchen as you efficiently execute your tasks?”
“I get annoyed. I hate it when people ruin my sys–
“Indeed. ‘Oh.’ I told you.
And everyone secretly knows that systems are super powerful, divinely helpful, and worth creating.
The thing is, they refuse to do it for some of the most important areas of their lives.”
“Yeah, how come I only have systems for fluff like waking up and washing dishes?”
“You tell me. No one’s stopping you from making a system to create content, promote card-making, spend time with kids, organizing date night, folding laundry… whatever!
If you want a hand with this, there’s a book called ‘Work The System’ by Sam Carpenter. It’s a little dry, but ridiculously valuable. Check it out if you want.”
“Sheesh. I knew I needed to work on time management, but I had no idea I was backwards on so many of these tricks.”
“A systemized life is an uncluttered life where tasks flow smoothly, but it’s rarely taught. Don’t beat yourself up, that’s just another time-suck people fall into.”
“Haha, very funny, I won’t.
And I’ll practice systemizing more.
“I literally don’t know what any of that means.”
“Don’t worry, you will, and you’ll love it.”
“Evan Carmichael plans most of his schedule down to the minute, and it works for him, but I don’t recommend it to most people… do you know why?”
“Because no one’s that, anal or, uh, precise with their time?”
“Not exactly. It’s because there’s very few ‘buffers’ or ‘safe zones’ in schedule like that, whereas Warren Buffet never schedules two meetings back to back, and always makes sure there’s decent-sized chunks of reading time, bridge-time, or ‘flex’ time in between his business happenings.”
“So are you saying those chunks of unspecified ‘flex’ time and reading and such are Buffets…uh… Buffers?”
“Spot on. If we schedule everything down to the minute, the slightest emergency thrown at us by life knocks our entire schedule off-balance.
But if we leave flex time, buffers, and ‘safe zones’ in case something bleeds over or an emergency pops up, we feel much less stressed, and much more confident we can deal with whatever life throws into our schedule.”
“That sounds nice, and I’ll admit, I’ve never tried scheduling buffers or safe zones before.”
“It’s easy to put them in, but it takes discipline to end appointments or hobbies or projects 15 minutes early.
It’s tempting to end them on the hour, then start a new task right after, but ending things at a quarter to the hour, gives you a fifteen minute buffer to use the bathroom, make a call, meditate, or whatever else your life appears to be calling for.
And that’s something you simply can’t do if you’re scheduled down to the minute.”
“And there’s more to this.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, not to be blunt, but whenever I’m making plans with you, I always pad all my time estimates but at least an hour, and tend to double any timeline you give me.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to teach you the principle.
I use it on you all the time, and it saves us both a ton of stress.
Do you want to hear it or not?”
“If you tell me you’ll make me a bagel in ten minutes, I mentally prepare myself to get it in twenty minutes, perhaps even thirty.”
“Because you’ve demonstrated poor time-management regularly in the past, and it’s unfair of me to expect you to change.
I have to let you be you, and let you learn to keep dates, times, and your word at your own pace.
If I just start arguing with you every time you’re late, doesn’t that make me an annoying dick, like your ex?”
“True, it would.”
“So instead, I plan around you, just like I plan around everyone who doesn’t respect other people’s time, or understand the value of being prompt for appointments.
Remember when that client asked me for ‘five minutes’ of my time, and I was nearly late for our meeting two hours later?”
“How could I forget, you burst in at the last minute.”
“I did, and it’s one example of me ‘playing close to the edge.’”
“It’s when we don’t give ourselves enough time to get something done.
It’s when we let things sit too late, when we know it was wiser to accomplish them early. It’s when we ignore life’s signs, warning us to address an issue before it gets louder and more dangerous.”
“Oh, like ignoring a lump in our breast, instead of getting it checked out ASAP.”
“Exactly. Give yourself a healthy buffer. Do something positive about it early, or a year from now you’ll be getting chopped off.”
The only reason I wasn’t rushed or panicked when returning to our meeting is because although I ended up playing close to the edge, I had given such a giant time buffer, I was confident I’d make our meeting on time.”
“And you did!”
“Because I knew when Harry told me ‘five minutes’ he meant ‘at least an hour.’
And when he told me it was ‘five minutes away’ I knew it was actually ‘half an hour away, plus traffic delays.’”
“Wow, so you literally knew you were committing two full hours to help him, when I heard him say ‘five minutes’ to your face.”
“Exactly. And if I failed to plan around him, and add a generous time buffer into my schedule, I’d end up angry with him, resenting him, and might even destroy our relationship.
It takes more mental effort and critical thinking to plan around people’s habits than it does to take them at their word, but the results are huge for making sure your life and schedule go smoothly.”
“I get it.
I can see how buffers help in my day to day, and I can see how they help big-time in dealing with others who aren’t as skilled at time management.”
“Excellent. On to number thirteen.
I think I know how to make a to-do list.”
“Sure, anything I want done, I write it down, then check it off once it’s done.”
“That’s an average person’s list-making. But are your lists organized in order of priority? With the most vital things at the top?”
“Oh. Well, no…”
“And do you have a central list on your phone, in the cloud, or in your journal at hand at all times, to add things to the list when they pop up… or are your items all spread out in multiple places?”
“They’re kind of spread out.”
“And do you divide your list into two sections, one marked “To-Do For Me” and another marked “To-Do For The Universe?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa… what?
Nobody does that.”
“Yes. As humans, we can only ‘do’ as much as we’re ready to handle.
If we put something on our list we’re not ready to handle, we’ll avoid it, procrastinate, and stress out about it.
So a healthy approach is to let those things go, ‘give them up to the universe’, at least until we’re more ready for them.”
“So what, I write ‘pick up kids’ and ‘make cards’ on my to-do list, but I put ‘heal my marriage’ in the ‘universe’ column?”
This unburdens your mind of tasks that won’t fit into your day, or feel ‘too big’ for you, and lets you focus on the tasks you feel ready for in your day.
And if you order your list items by priority, you’re then free to choose whether you want to start with a ‘high priority’ item, or an ‘easy win’ item, or something in between.”
“Wow. There’s more nuance in a simple list of goals than I realized.”
“There is, but they’re fairly easy to get the hang of, and when you do, your to-do lists will be super-powered and ultra-effective. Try it and see.”
All of the above time management tips & tricks take practice.”
“Aw, man, do I have to?”
“Yes, and the same goes for most worthwhile things in life.
You don’t have to practice them all, or even all at once, and in fact, one at a time is best.
But you do have to practice them if you want worthwhile time management results.”
“Practice feels so boring, dull, and hard.”
“Just like good timing, it only feels hard because you don’t fully understand it’s foundations and nuances.”
Cyn and I eventually made a podcast episode devoted to understanding practice better, check it out here:
“Okay, okay, I’ll practice. I know it’s essential.”
And the last time hack probably belongs in the ‘foundations’ section we discussed earlier, but it’s the most helpful one for couples who argue over timing.”
“Cool, what is it?”
This is why you should rarely be arguing or fighting with others over when a task ‘should’ be done.”
“They may argue a task should be done when they ‘feel’ like it, but feelings are random and change constantly, and aren’t a good reason to select a time for task-completion.
Imagine if you only changed a baby’s diaper when you ‘felt’ like it. Imagine if firefighters only saved people when they ‘felt’ like it. Imagine if elections were held in the small hours of the morning, because the government ‘felt’ like it.”
“Yeah, that’s dumb shit.”
“Exactly, because there’s generally a ‘best time’ or ‘wise time’ or…
If a couple is arguing over when to do the dishes, one or both of them may try and claim that ‘their time’ is the best time to do it…
…but the truth is, just by asking a few questions, the ‘best time’ for them to be done can be made clear.”
“Are there other people in the house who may need to use the kitchen?
If so, would you like it if you needed to use the kitchen, and others had left food and dishes everywhere?
What happens to food that’s left on dishes for a prolonged period?
Do they take less time to clean, or more time once food’s caked on?
How do you feel when you have tasks like dishes weighing on your mind?
Are you able to focus and do your best work…
…or do you feel more relieved when they’re off your plate?
How do you feel when you say you’ll do them ‘later’ only to forget and find them at the end of the night?
How does your partner feel, and what happens to your relationship when dishes are left to dry, instead of being washed?
Isn’t it a huge win in many areas to simply wash them immediately following the meal?”
“Well, yeah… okay… clearly the best time to do them is asap, not letting them sit.”
Dishes belong in the vital and barely shelf-able quadrant.
Most people know this, but most teenagers haven’t figured it out yet, so what happens to the dishes in a teenagers room?”
“Right, does anyone who ‘gets timing’ really want to live like that?”
And this same technique can be applied to anything.
Consider the invoice you asked me to make earlier.
I could whine and say ‘I’ll do it later,’ or I could ask myself some questions, figure out it belongs in the vital and pressing ‘do-now’ quadrant, and get it done, making all our lives better and getting the highest value out of my time.”
“Damn. My mind is blown. This would’ve solved every fight I had with my ex over chores, admin, the kids, and more.”
“Glad you like it, and I’ve got a bonus for you, too.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, we all have busy lives and full calendars, but if you get a great idea, or if you want to move one of your dreams forward, despite having very little time…
…taking some small action is always a win.
Some small positive action on a goal is better than no action.”
“So you’re saying if I’m super busy, and I can’t get my new card-making project started, I should take some small action related to it?”
“Yes. A few minutes of effort, even a few seconds, creates a special kind of momentum, and it proves to yourself that you’re the kind of person who commits to moving their dreams forward, rather than the kind of person who de-prioritizes their dreams and doesn’t care if they’re ever reached.”
“Can you give an example?”
In regards to your card-making project. Do something, anything, to move it forward. Move the stickers closer to your desk. Open and title your brainstorm document. Prepare a new folder to organize the project.
Just do something tangible that makes you feel proud.
You can then at least know you started prepping for your project.”
“Ooh, then I can put a dot or a tick-mark next to it on my to-do list.”
“And that feels great! Even if the item isn’t ‘crossed off’ your list, at least you get to put a physical mark next to it.”
“I get it. Awesome!”
“To wrap up, here’s…
Now, I should point out that Cyn didn’t master all of these time management tricks all at once.
And even today, she leans on some more than others, which is to be expected.
But if you view each one like an ‘ingredient’ in a ‘productivity pie’…
…the more you add a healthy dose of each one to your life, the more delicious your life is going to be, time management-wise.
Cyn started out as a ‘hot mess’ of a depressed, fat, addicted, poor SAHM.
Now she’s a happy, slimmer, drug-free, money-making mom-preneur.
And she did it by mastering her time, instead of being a slave to it.
If you want to live a fulfilling life in which you accomplish the vast majority of your dreams…
You must make as many moments count as you can.
Otherwise you end up living life on autopilot, taking whatever other people let you get from each second, and die with a boatload of regrets when you look back from your deathbed and realize you wasted so much precious time.
You’re at a crossroads…
1. Time managment helps you get more done in less time.
2. It helps you achieve goals faster.
3. It helps you prioritize things in ways that serve you.
4. It reduces stress and soothes emotions.
5. Prevents procrastination and boosts confidence.
Time management for students is super important for balancing studies with family, work, a social life, and more. Good time management affects your health and boosts your energy and motivation. The list of benefits goes on and on, but I’ll cut it short here.
It’s tricky to control every single minute of your day, especially with so many distractions around, and it becomes even more important in the fast-paced world of the workplace.
Time management and productivity hacks are essential to navigate your career effectively.
Effective time management is making choices that get you as much fulfilling value out of your time as possible.
Are you a generous person?
Do you want happier friends?
Then share the wealth!