5 Brutal Time Management Rules

Brutal Time ManagementWe all have exactly 24 hours a day (forget about “leap” seconds, time nerds!).

In that time we need to sleep, eat (sometimes while working), and more.

As we get more importance or seniority or higher positions etc. – basically as we grow up, we have more responsibilities, yet we have no more time.

Demands on Our Time Grow

Suddenly you may be responsible for more, find yourself in charge of numerous projects, become the defacto resource for a few things or people, somehow gain a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend who takes up time. There may be children, bosses who need management, you might have several direct reports and more.

Conversely you *might* find yourself in a large bureaucracy where you do very little like everyone else, although these places are rare these days other than in government – get the hell out! (obviously doesn’t apply to everyone in government, so relax, government people).

Basically there are more things to do than time

Anyone surprised?

5 Brutal Time Management Rules

1) You Need a “Not To Do” list

Since you can’t do everything, is it important you do not try. What you do not do is as important as what you try to do. Are there things you are doing that you can delegate, ignore, outsource, etc?

These may be things that were once important, but no longer are.

In my case some of this is as simple as having an accountant to handle some of my finances. I also outsource some graphics, SEO, and editing work. Doing things I can outsource for under $100/hour, sometimes $10/hour, makes no sense.

So, what things do you do now that if it they were never done would not matter? Stop doing them!

There are a few things, some of which made me actually money, I have simply stopped doing. Why? There are more valuable uses for my time!

What do you do now that someone else could do adequately, whether it’s a coworker, and employee, or someone on Fiverr? Notice I did NOT say “do perfectly” or “do as well as you!”

The more “less important things” you stop doing, the more important things you can do – duhhh!

Also consider saying NO more often (politely) when asked to do things. You can’t do everything.

2) Use a SHORT Critical “To Do List”

If you put all 17 or 37 or 99 things you think absolutely and positively need doing on your to do list, guess what happens? It doesn’t all get done!

Most days I’ll have a “Most Important” or “Critical” list of things that really should or need to be done close to immediately.

For example, I did delay my taxes (since extensions are not only possible but easy), but I could NOT delay renewing my passport – I needed it for an upcoming trip and if it didn’t get it done neither did the trip/job and associated payment!

3) Do What’s Most Important First Not What’s Easiest

So you’ve got maybe 5 most important things to do.

What do you do first? What you feel like? What you think you can finish easily? What will make coworker Mary happy?

Do what is most important first!

You might think there are 5 critical things you must do, but guess what? You might only do 2 of them. Do the most important first.

Corollary: What you decide to do next is the most important decision you make!

4) Occasionally Work on Important but not Time Critical Projects and Tasks

What is most important or most critical usually has a significant time component to it, at least in our minds.

You may have extremely important things that have a “manana” component – they are important, but may never be time critical.

It might be writing a book, or studying for a certification, or who knows what. It might have to do with your mission or longer term vision, making it very important!

Schedule time to work on these – or they will  NEVER get done.

5) Avoid “Time Vampires”

“Time Vampire” is a term I borrow from master marketer (that means “Social Engineer”) Dan Kennedy.

A Time Vampire might be Luigi from engineering that stops by to talk all the time, says nothing, and seems to never leave. You know, the guy or gal that everyone avoids. “Hey Luigi, I’ve got a deadline” or “I need to take this call” or fake a call. And if you don’t want to lie, well, you can always be an asshole instead (ethical dilemmas, ehh?).

A Time Vampire may be a committee or task force or whatever you shouldn’t be on. It doesn’t mean it isn’t important (of course it might be useless too), but perhaps it’s not that important to you or someone else would be more effective in that role or . . .


Of course take some time for yourself, family, and friends too – you and they deserve it!

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    • Amanda
    • May 13, 2014

    The Power of a positive no, ehhh? 🙂

    • Art
    • August 29, 2014

    I like how you said in your talk that “Rockstar is not 9 to 5 – that really sank it in

    • Lex
    • September 19, 2014

    #4) Important but not Time Critical stuff

    This really rings true and to home with me. I just dove headfirst into a critical project for my career (and my life) that was never going to be the most time critical thing.

    There was never the “right” time to start it.

    Something was always more “urgent”

    But big picture, one of the MOST important things for me to do.

    So I just started. I’ve blocked out time to work on it every week.

    And it’s really excellent I’m doing it!

    • Frank Smith
    • October 26, 2014

    My not to do list had additions this summer: no yard work, washing ironing shirts, and I also took up running instead of cycling as much (much less time for the same amount of exercise.

    I gained so much time, and “outsourcing” the yardwork and shirts was cheap.

    The real gain was that I didn’t fritter the time away watching TV etc. but have spent it doing fun AND productive things!

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