Time Management Tips from 4 Top Earners of 2019

I worked for a man who was dedicated to planning and organizing. He kept note pads and sticky notes for personal and professional use. He kept an ongoing grocery list. He liked order. The first day I went to clean his home, he went over a detailed list of what he expected me to accomplish each week. I recall looking at the list and listening to him speak and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

There was small tattered book which lay on his bedroom desk week after week. It always seemed out of place to me, alongside the other nice, neat looking items on the desk. I dusted around it and on top of it (as I did the other items) and nearly every time I did, I would wonder why Ernie kept this ragged looking book. Each week my curiosity increased and…

One day I decided to satisfy my nosiness. I looked inside the book (I was wrong to pry and thankfully my moral character has grown since then) and quickly realized this was a journal. Memories and jottings from his boyhood. He had recorded certain things he had done at school and after school. I did not read too far, just a couple of entries and a I flipped through the book and saw that many pages had been written on. He had spent time with this journal and it held enough of a place in his life that he had refused to part with it.

From that point I began to pay closer attention to this common thread in his life. Planning and organization. I wondered then and still wonder if someone had taught him this principle or is this something he had incorporated in his life on his own. Who had inspired him to set goals and track his progress? Had a relative given his the journal as a gift, inspiring him to write and set goals?

I know this much, he developed this discipline as a boy and carried it into his adult life. I imagine as a high school and college student he spent time thinking about the things he could do that would help him make good grades. Did a parent, grandparent, or teacher instill in him the discipline of time management? Maybe someone close to him had inquired of him at some point what it was he wanted to be “when you grow up”. I imagine he spent time devising a plan to reach his life’s mission. Setting goals, readjusting goals, tracking them, and accomplishing. He became a successful man. He knew how to plan his work, and then work from his plan.

When I met Ernie in 2001 or ’02 (can’t really remember for sure) he was an entrepreneur, running his own business as a financial adviser. He maintained a neat appearance and liked his home and office well-kept. Not perfect, but nice. I remember on the few occasions I ended up in his office, there would be a to-do-list on his desk.

If I had the mindset I have now, I could have used his wisdom to help me focus. But when you are young you have so many other things to think about other than the passage of time and a means to steward it responsibly. If I was the thinker I am today, I would have asked Ernie to share with me his most useful tips on time management. What were the main two or three things that helped him get to where he was in life? I would have asked that had I known better.

I have not seen nor talked with Ernie for many years. If he is still alive, he must be retired now and enjoying the fruits of his labor. His appreciation for time management, planning, organization, and goal setting is influencing my life today. And I didn’t even see it coming. We never know what will grow from the seeds people plant in our lives, do we? Sometimes bad, yes. But sometimes great and powerful things.

If I had to sum up what I learned from watching Ernie’s example, it would have to be this: Long term success is no accident. Planning and being organized are a must. There has to be a resolution and commitment to time management if success is to be attained.

Thank you, Ernie, wherever you may be, for teaching me this! More than anyone else I have ever spent time with, you taught me the value of being mindful of my time through planning and goal setting. You did not teach me this with words. It was your actions that educated me. Though I did not understand the value of what I was witnessing in your lifestyle at the time, I get it now.

At the end of the day, we all have to find out what what works for us as an individual when it comes to time management. There is no one size fits all. We have to find what works, and work it. That is what Ernie did. That is what I am doing.

The following quotes are from men who discovered what time management meant for them individually. And they can help us better understand what may work for us. These are four men, highly successful, in various professions. Let us listen and learn as they offer us counsel for managing time to our advantage.

“You basically get what you spend your time doing.” – Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

Does it get any more straight forward than that? Mr. Zuckerberg makes it clear that our time is an investment we earn from. We earn according to how we use it.

Warren Buffett, CEO and Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the most successful investors of all time says The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. I almost did not include this quote because I thought it might be misunderstood. But it speaks volumes so I had to use it. Mr. Buffett is only saying we have to be sure we are choosing our time use wisely and not entangling ourselves in activities that are not leading us toward our goals, but rather potentially taking us off course.

“The truth of the matter is thinking about time as something to be managed, I record everything and do budget versus actual comparisons. And I just measure everything because I think time is so important.” Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers

This guy is serious about time management. I have seen some videos of him expounding on the subject, and he does it like no one else I am aware of at the moment. Mr. Ballmer offers us the opportunity to view our time like we view our money. Paying careful attention to how we’re spending it. Keeping track of where it’s going. Budgeting our time use. Maintaining an up-to-date balance as we would with our checkbook. I really like this quote and at the same time I know there has to be balance in how we view time management. No need in driving ourselves crazy by overdoing it.

Last but not least, Bill Gates (the principal founder of Microsoft) takes center stage with this quote “I also remember, Warren (Buffett) showing me his calendar. You know, I had every minute packed and I thought that was the only way you could do things. You control your time. Sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority than a normal CEO, where there’s all these demands and you feel like you need to go and see all these people. It’s not a proxy of your seriousness that you fill every minute in your schedule.”

Did you catch that? No, I mean did you really catch it? Mr. Gates asks us to loosen our grip on trying to be perfectly in control of each and every single solitary moment of our day through planning and scheduling. Which brings up the topic of balance, as I mentioned a moment ago. Use the calendar, planner, organizer or whatever we use that helps us stay productive. But we must understand that doing is not always necessarily doing. Sometimes doing is sitting with our thoughts brainstorming the next move, creating a mental strategy, winning in our thoughts. This one hits home hard with me because I would be the person who feels as if I am not progressing if I am not filling my schedule from the moment I wake to the time I go to bed. But as Gates stated, a well-planned calendar is not necessary to prove you are serious about your vision.

I hope these quotes will be useful to you as you navigate through the maze of time management. And I hope you find the motivation you need, and that you put into practice what you have learned here. I also hope you remember, what works for me may not work for you. What works for these men may not work for you. Time Management is an individual tactic and when it comes right down to it, each one has to find their own path.


Find Your Peak Workflow

What are your peak workflow hours? Do you know? Between what hours are you most prolific? Do you do your best work at night? Are you the type whose creative abilities are heightened during the daytime? In order to perform at your maximum potential, you must know the answers to these questions.

Night-timers hit their peak perfomance while the majority of people sleep. This is the time when they can thoughtfully bring the characters of their story to life, these are the hours they use to construct their brands and websites, their business plan is modified during these hours. Night-timers will have a difficult time trying to do their best inventive work during the day.

On the contrary, day-time creatives find their productive flow in the morning or afternoon. Day-timers usually experience more time restraints during the week than night-timers, which is why many use the weekend for creating during their peak hours.

Once you discover the time frame in which you work best, you need to ask yourself this: “Am I using these hours for goal setting, for goal tracking, for goal achievement?” If you are not using your peak hours towards work on your goals, you really should be. And here is why: this is the ideal time for maximum achievement. Your level of productivity is partly determined by how efficiently you use your peak workflow hours.

Now, I will ask once more, do you know what your best hours for creativity and productivity are? If you are still trying to figure that out, it is okay. You are at least on the right path. Just do not stop until you have the answer.

Begin to pay closer attention to the times during the day or night when you feel most like working. Pay attention to those times you most feel like creating? See if you can find a pattern. When you can give a definitive answer to this question, you will have found your peak workflow. And you will have answered a very crucial question with regard to your time management skills and your productivity.

Of course you can choose to create whenever you would like to, but the greatest results are found when you know and work within those peak hours.

Closely Assess How You Use Your Time

What if you could find more free time every day to focus on the things that bring you closer to your goals? How empowered would that make you feel? If you are the type of person who is serious about productivity, then it is safe to say that your life will never be the same once you recognize that you have more free time at your disposal than you think you do. You have the time you need to progress towards your goals. The time is there. You already possess it. Like buried treasure you only need to uncover it. That is where I come in, to help you see what has been hidden in plain sight all along.

And to grasp this simple concept is to begin to understand what it truly means to manage time well.

Time management is a discipline that anyone can master if their approach is correct. But the average person gets it wrong. They try to reach their destination (better managing their time) without first pinpointing where they are. If you are taking a drive to a place you have never gone before, you would more than likely use your GPS to get you there. Likewise, in learning to manage your time like a pro, you need to assess where you are before you start. Because you cannot get to where you are going without first knowing where you are. You cannot manage your time wisely without first finding out where your time is being used. What is eating up your time?

It is at this point that I will suggest you make a visual assessment of what an average day looks like for you as far as time usage is concerned. You should account for everything that is time consuming, to the best of your ability, without going to extremes. Because all you are basically doing is accounting for where your time is being spent. That is it!

When I made my own time assessment (which only took a few minutes), on a sheet of paper I scribbled down my working hours each day, sleeping hours, and things that would take up most of my time, and I made rough estimations for things like driving to work, walking and feeding and playing with the dog, getting ready for work, eating, and so forth. After finishing, I discovered that I had around 8 hours of free time every weekday and about 16 hours on the Saturdays and 16 hours on Sundays. All free time! What had I been doing with it? And how could I have possibly felt that I did not have enough time to get things done? These are some of the questions I asked myself.

I only did the assessment once because I feel I know all I need to know, for now, about where my time is being used. You can make a time assessment as often as you need to. Every day would not be too much if you feel you need to do so in order to find more free time to work on your goals.

Remember, this assessment is just to give you an idea of how much free time you should have each day, and this works perfectly well as a compliment for your to-do list because you can transfer activities from your assessment straight to your to-do list and be on your way to getting much more done, day after day.

The Perfect To-Do List for Increased Productivity

The best way to increase your productivity and monitor your time management skills is to maintain a daily To-Do List. This simple practice will also help you stay more organized, more focused, and less stressed as you progress through your day.

One of the aspects that I find most interesting about maintaining a To-Do List is how readily people underrate its advantages. The average person is unaware of the fact that the disorganization we often feel in our lives is nothing more than the result of mental clutter, which we can at least begin to tackle with a pen, a pad, and consistency. Consequently, the To-Do List that is sustained is not a waste of time, but rather a means of taking control of your time.

Another aspect of the To-Do List that interests me is the seemingly endless number of ways in which you can personalize this list to fit your own needs. For instance, I utilize a To-Do List both personally and professionally, although you may only want to use your list for personal reasons. Or maybe only professionally. It is up to the individual.

Furthermore, I prefer to create my To-Do List the night before. I like the feeling of ending my day with some type of written preparation for the next day. On some rare occasions when I have not felt like creating the list the night before, I would write it out the next morning first thing. But this approach usually made me feel hurried and anxious, which inevitably hindered my productivity, so this method does not work well for me. However, you may find that making your list when you first wake up, as opposed to the night before, is the right match for you, or after you’ve had your first cup of coffee in the morning, or even after you’ve dressed and had breakfast. Everyone has to find what works for them.

This means the perfect To-Do List for you is not one that has to look like mine or anyone else’s in order to be constructive. The perfect To-Do List for you is one that you customize to meet your own unique goals and objectives. Your To-Do List can be as long or as short as you want it to be. It can be color-coded for certain events or deadlines. Your lists can be written out on sticky notes, logged in a notebook, or kept digitally. You can be as creative with your list as you would like to be. Or you can make it as trouble-free as possible. It is always completely up to you.

The only requirement for increasing your productivity by means of a To-Do List is that you make your list everyday and that you work from it everyday.

24 Hours is Plenty

The first thing I want you to know about me is that I am a firm believer in being productive. I love to get things done. The next thing I want you to know about me is that, like you, I struggle to prioritize wisely. As a result of this, my productivity suffers. And I know you can relate to the frustration of being someone who values getting things done while at the same time failing to get things done consistently enough.

True, we each are different, however, some things are common for all of us. One of those things is that we are all gifted with talents and skills given to us in order that we might positively impact the World around us. We all have been given something to offer the World. And there is an internal restlessness inside of us when we are unable to express that individual creativity to others.

We take jobs we do not like in order to make a living and before we know it, there we are, stuck in the rut of helping bring someone else’s vision to life while our own dreams and goals slowly fade out of sight. Yet, we have to earn some type of living, do we not? And what about the life issues that arise which blur our focus and push our ambitions aside? We have to deal with life as it comes, right? Not to mention the mundane demands of our day-to-day home life which also contends for our time and attention. So, it is easy to see how we can get sidetracked. Sadly though, some people never find their way back on track.

But there is good news today for anyone who can believe it! The problem is not so much the demands on your time, but how you use the time you have. We can get up and earn a living even in a job we dislike, we can take care of our families, we can meet our daily demands and still find the time to work towards our personal goals. All is not lost, no matter how far away you are right now from realizing your ambitions. The mere fact that you are reading this is proof that there is a flame of hope still burning inside you, and where there is hope, there is always a chance for success.

With the proper tools and training any of us can become better skilled at time management and, thereby, more capable of reaching our full potential.

The Journey

Welcome to the beginning of your life!

The blog Early Every Day is all about squeezing everything you can out of each and every day you are given. The earlier you can get the busy work of your day finished, the more time you have for the important things in your World.

So go get it done! Get it done as early as is possible for you! Then get on with enjoying life!


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