Summary: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Managemen by Kevin Kruse
Summary: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Managemen by Kevin Kruse

Summary: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Managemen by Kevin Kruse

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Secret #1 The Power of 1440

Print a big 1440 on a piece of paper and tape it in on your desk or your office door. No other words. No other explanation. Just 1440 in a big and bold font.

1440 is the number of minutes you have in a day. 1440 serves you as a reminder that time is ticking. Why minutes, not seconds? Seconds are so easy to slip away. Minutes, on the other hand, are something else. You can think of all the ways you can spend a minute but you can’t do the same with a second.


Secret #2 The Power of Priorities

Identify your most important task (MIT) and work on it each day before you do anything else. What does this mean for you? If you’re…

An entrepreneur: identify the one thing that’s most important to achieve your quarterly goals.

An executive: be crystal clear on one objective that determines your annual performance

A freelancer: identify one thing that leads you to more clients

A student: pick one class that’s most important for you to raise your grades

A parent: identify the one thing that’s most important for your child’s development


Secret #3 Stop Making To-Do Lists… Do This Instead

Do you really think highly successful people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Beos just walk around with a to-do list? There are three problems with two-do lists. First, it doesn’t distinguish tasks that take a minute and tasks that take an hour or more. So when you go over a to-do list, it’s so tempting to prioritize the quick and easy tasks. Second, to-do lists make it easy to focus on the ‘urgent’ work instead of the important. That’s why you still probably have “create annual family photo album for 2013” on your to-do list. Third, to-do lists create unnecessary stress. Sure, it’s one way to remember our tasks but it’s also a constant reminder,a constant nagging that there are many things we still need to deal with. No wonder we feel increasingly overwhelmed.

Live life from your calendar instead.

Successful people don’t carry a to-do list, but they do have a very well-organized calendar. First, schedule a block of time for everything important. Second, schedule them as early in the day as possible. Third, reschedule your time blocks if you have to, but don’t cancel them. Fourth, treat your time blocks as if they were appointments with your doctor.

Jeff Weiner blocks buffer time. The CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Wiener, blocks ‘do nothing’ time on his calendar. He uses this buffer time as small breaks to process what’s going on around him or just simply sit in silence and self reflect.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: block time each week to get close and listen to your customers and employees
  • An executive: block time for your top objectives
  • A freelancer: block time to learn latest trends and tools in your industry
  • A student: block study group time and your teacher’s office hours
  • A parent: block trips to gym and weekly errands


Secret #4 The Procrastination Cure

Procrastination isn’t about laziness. People procrastinate because they lack enough motivation and/or they underestimate the power of present emotions versus future emotions when they set their goals. 

Procrastination Buster #1 Time Travel

Despite what we want in the future, human beings are prone to present bias (our tendency to give stronger weight to pay-offs that are closer to the present time). So when the present actually gets here (yes, the present is always here), we choose candy, TikTok, Facebook and endless YouTube videos because they’re easier and more fun. 

To battle this present bias, distance your future self from your current self, and ask yourself “How am I sabotaging my future self by procrastinating my MIT right now?” 

Procrastination Buster #2 Pain and Pleasure

Ask yourself two questions before you even think about procrastinating – “What pleasure will I get by doing this thing?, “What pain will I feel if I don’t’ do it?”

Procrastination Buster #3 Accountability Partner

The reason accountability partners are so powerful is that a lot of us feel worse when breaking a promise to ourselves, but we feel far worse when we break a promise to someone else. So, if you’re trying to stick to an exercise routine, find someone as your gym partner. If you play football, get a buddy at school or a good friend who’s going to check in and keep you accountable.

Procrastination Buster #4 Reward and Punnishment

Setup a commitment contract with your friend, family, colleague. Give them #100 or whatever amount will hurt you and share your goal. If you don’t follow through, promise them they can keep the money or give it to a charity.

Procrastination Buster #5 Act as if…

You are a healthy eater.  You are a jogger. You are the #1 sales rep in your company. Be. That’s it. Be.

This self-talk anchors your values. Just be who you want to become. If you don’t feel like doing what your future self needs to do, it will feel incongruent to you and will prompt you to take action.

Procrastination Buster #6 Settle for good enough.

Perfection is just another term for procrastination. It’s easy to start things and it’s equally easy not to finish them. Your final work will never be perfect, so settle for good enough. To combat procrastination, remember that done is better than perfect.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: work on things you feel outside of your comfort zone
  • An executive: have those difficult conversation with your direct reports
  • A freelancer: find ways to achieve more billable hours each day
  • A student: find ways to complete class projects sooner
  • A parent: organize the rooms in your house and make your mind more peaceful


Secret #5 Leave the Office at 5:00, Without Guilt

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg leaves work at 5:30pm every day to have dinner with her kids. And Grove (former CEO of Intel) arrives at the office at 8:00am every day to leave on time at 6. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has over 400 companies in his assets, yet he never forgets to hang out on his private island or go on adventures.

The secret to finding a work-life balance is realizing there will never be done. Your day ends when you’re tired and ready to go home, not when you’re done. You’re never done. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, an entrepreneur or an executive, your work is never really done. There’s always more to be done, more that should be done and more that can be done.

“You’re never too busy to make time for what you love. It’s just a matter of priorities – how you spend your days and dedicating time for what you value most. If something is really important to you, you’ll find a way to fit into your life.”

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: spend more time with your family and friends
  • An executive: hit the gym on a more consistent basis
  • A freelancer: spend more time learning new skills and thinking strategically about your future
  • A student: satisfy with a good grade instead of a perfect grade
  • A stay-at-home parent: give yourself an hour a day for reading, exercising or scrapbooking?


Secret #6 Richard Branson’s Secret Productivity Tool

“It may sound ridiculous but my most important is to always carry a little notebook in your back pocket. I think the number one thing that I take with me when I’m travelling is the notebook… I could never have built the Virgin Group into the size it is without those few bits of paper.”, said Richard Branson in one interview.

Always carry a notebook. Ideas come and go (usually in seconds). Unless you write it down, you’re doomed to forget it. And that is a million dollar lesson that they don’t teach you in business schools.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: keep a record of all commitments your colleagues make during a meeting
  • An executive:: record all the accomplishments your company had over the year
  • A freelancer: write down your key client obligations
  • A student: capture key lecture notes
  • A parent: capture all the random to-do items that occur each day (and transfer them to your calendar at a later time).


Secret #7 Master Your Email inbox with 321Zero.

Here are seven steps to increase your email productivity.

  1. Unsubscribe from email newsletters.
  2. Turn off all email notifications.
  3. Use the 321Zero method (check email 3 times a day and 21 minutes each time).
  4. Apply 4Ds to your emails (do, delegate, defer or delete).
  5. Think twice before you forward or cc.
  6. Use the subject line to indicate the action required.
  7. Keep your emails short and simple.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: keep your inbox clean to spend more time on revenue-generating activities
  • An executive: keep your inbox clean to spend more time on strategic priorities
  • A freelancer: keep your inbox clean to spend more time acquiring new skills
  • A student: keep your inbox clean or don’t use an email at all
  • A parent: keep your inbox clean to run more errands


Secret #8 Meeting Hacks from Google, Apple and Virgin

Meetings don’t get a bad reputation by themselves. Meetings get a bad reputation because most people don’t run them in a way they’re supposed to. Meetings don’t start late. People arrive late. There aren’t wrong people in the meetings. People invited the wrong people. And meetings are hardly one-way communications. It’s just one person inside the room getting a lot of airtime.

A general advice is to schedule and attend meetings as a last resort when all other forms of communication won’t work. 

“Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” – Mark Cuban

“Pick one day a week and your team can focus on getting individual work done without any interruptions like meetings. At Asana, we have ‘No Meeting Wednesdays’ established to encourage flow and productivity across the company.” – Dustin Moskovitz

“The Time Timer is way better than a timer app on a screen. Because it’s physical, it’s easier to adjust and set, and absolutely impossible to ignore.” – Jake Knapp

“One of my favorite tricks is to conduct most of my meetings standing up. I find it to be a much quicker way of getting down to business, making a decision and sealing the deal. When given the opportunity I often like to take things a step further – literally, with a walking meeting.” – Richard Branson

No smartphone please. So many successful people find smartphone use in meetings to be inappropriate. Why? Because it shows a lack of respect, attention, listening and power. So either mute your device or leave your phones in your pockets completely.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: reduce time spent in meetings to spend more time improving your product
  • An executive: reduce time spent in meetings to spend more time coaching your team
  • A freelancer: reduce time spent in meetings to spend more time finding new clients
  • A student: if study groups don’t help you, spend more time studying alone
  • A parent: make more impact by attending fewer meetings


Secret #9 One Little Word that Multiplies Success

Cast this one-word magic spell that instantly frees up space on your calendar – the word “No”. As Steve Jobs said, “Focusing is about saying No.” This is not to say you should reject all the requests. But you do need to carefully decide the requests you’ll be entertaining. Say “No” to everything that doesn’t support your goals, and every time you say “Yes” to something, think of what you’re saying “No” to. Remember, only 1440 minutes in a day.

If you think you’ll be less busy in the future, you might want to think again. Multiple studies show that people mistakenly think they’ll be less busy in the future than they are in the present.

Here are 7 easy ways to say “No”:

  1. “… but I’m on a deadline right now and I’m not taking any… until I’m done.”
  2. “… unfortunately my schedule is so packed at this time. I can only take …. Thanks for understanding.”
  3. “…. I’m happy to connect but there’s no daylight on my calendar until…”
  4. “… and my next open slot for a … is ….. Let me know if that works for you.”
  5. “…. but I don’t think I’m the best person. I’d like to refer you to….” 
  6. “…. but I’m not able to take any more… during normal business hours. But I often can catch up on…. during travel or at night. Would you like to communicate via …?”
  7. “…. and as a rule, I only schedule 15 minutes for….”. If you’re interested, could you send over a draft agenda so I can see what we’ll be covering and what desired outcome you’re hoping for?”

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: say “no” more to focus on your current product road map
  • An executive: say “no” more to focus on the progress of your quarterly objectives
  • A freelancer: say “no” more to reduce your pro bono hours
  • A student: say “no” more to spend more time in the library and less time at the café
  • A parent: say “no” more to minimize ‘volunteering’ and maximize ‘parenting’


Secret #10 The Powerful Pareto Principle

Could you make almost 80 percent of your workload magically disappear just by simply relooking at your priorities? Yes, you can. 80 percent of your results come from just 20 percent of the action. If you do the most important things (20 percent) exceptionally well, you can get away the rest with just ‘good enough’ or not at all.

That is not to say you have to run around with the calculator and do the math to figure out your 80 percent and 20 percent calculations in every area of your life. The takeaway is to adopt the  mindset of identifying the important few that will give you outsized returns.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: apply 80/20 rule to focus on your strategic plan and spend less time chasing endless opportunities
  • An executive: apply 80/20 rule to maximize returns on your limited resources
  • A freelancer: apply 80/20 rule to focus on your most lucrative clients
  • A student: apply 80/20 rule to identify the content that matters most
  • A parent: apply 80/20 rule to manage your household without losing your mind


Secret #11 The ‘3 Harvard Questions’ That Save 8 Hours A Week

In January 2013, several news outlets reported the remarkable story of Bob.

With Bob’s programming speed and code quality, his company named him ‘Best Coder in the Building” and gave him an excellent performance review. He was a model employee in the eyes of everyone in the company.

But only if we had been able to secretly peek over Bob’s shoulder all day, we would have known how he spent his time. On Bob’s typical day, he would read Reddit, watch YouTube videos all morning until he headed out to his 90-minute lunch. Back at 1, he spent the next three and half hours on Ebay and social media. At 4:30, he’d send a report to his boss and go home without writing a single line of code. He repeats the same pattern the next day.

How is he doing this? It turns out Bob was very smart. Instead of asking “How can I do this?” he focused on “How can this get done?” And so, he outsourced his job to a company in China. Bob was earning $200k a year and he in turn willingly gave $50k a year to a Chinese programmer to do his job. Needless to say, when the company found out, he was fired. 

Yes, Bob broke some rules and ultimately got fired. But the lesson is in his approach to getting things done.

3 Questions – Drop. Delegate. Redesign.
  1. What items can I drop or stop doing entirely?
  2. What items can I delegate to a subordinate or outsource completely?
  3. What do I need to continue doing but in a more efficient way?

Today, you can basically ‘Uber’ everything, not just your commute. Since the early days of virtual assistants (VAs), the concept has really grown into the idea that you can outsource literally anything with very little prior planning.

But… Mark Cuban still does his laundry.

The author also does his own grocery shopping almost every day or every other day. This makes no sense from a time optimization standpoint. But they actually like doing it or enjoy the results of doing it. The bottom line is to outsource everything except for tasks that you enjoy doing, refinance your values and cost you more per hour to outsource. 

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: outsource more to spend more time using your unique abilities
  • An executive: outsource more to reduce project costs
  • A freelancer: outsource more to utilize your true talents
  • A student: outsource more to spend more time studying
  • A parent: outsource more to recharge more


Secret #12 Why Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter) Themes His Days

Jack Dorsey explained his secret to his productivity. In his own words

“The way I found works for me is to theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company… we have our directional meeting at Square, we have our OpCom meeting at Twitter; I do all my management one-on-ones on that day. Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy and getting ready for the week.”

What works for Jack may or may not work for you. The key is to experiment in batching your work with recurring themes for different days of the week.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: theme product development and customer acquisition days
  • An executive: block internal meeting times but also free thinking times
  • A freelancer: theme one day a week just to deal with pesky things like finding new clients and sending invoices
  • A student: theme one night a week as ‘party night’ and another night for ‘study in the library time’.
  • A parent: theme Sunday afternoon as time to pre-cook a week’s worth of meals


Secret #13 Touch It Once…. If You Can

Whenever you have a small task (that takes less than five minutes to complete), you should complete it now, rather than putting it off. This ensures you don’t have a long pile of tasks that you have to tackle at the end of the day.

Apply ‘Touch It Once’ mentality to your emails, errands and every small task you can imagine. If a task can be completed under five minutes, do it immediately.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • A freelancer: touch it once to keep your admin work in order
  • A student: touch it once to power through each assignment
  • A parent: touch it once to keep your household in order


Secret #14 Change Your Morning. Change Your life.

Hal Elrod has turned his life around after a fatal car accident that broke eleven bones and left him in a coma for almost a week. His secret from going near-death experience to a successful coach, speaker and a world-renowned author? He calls it life SAVERS – six step miracle routine that he practices every single morning.

Hal also makes a point that no matter what level of success you already have, using your first minutes of each morning to invest in yourself will take you to an even higher level.

  1. S is for Silence (gratitude, meditation or prayer)
  2. A is for Affirmations (purpose, goals, priorities)
  3. V is for Visualization (of goals or ideal life)
  4. E is for Exercise
  5. R is for Reading
  6. S is for Scribing (also known as journaling)

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

  • An entrepreneur: start your morning to facilitate ideas and keep you grounded through the challenges to come
  • An executive: start your morning to give you physical and mental health to have a successful career over the long haul
  • A freelancer: start your morning to increase your hourly productivity through the day
  • A student: start your morning to reduce stress during exam weeks
  • A parent: start you morning to increase your patience and happiness


Secret #15 Energy is Everything

Energy starts with health. If you aren’t already a picture of health, your routine should include:

  1. Getting enough sleep
  2. Minimizing alcohol
  3. Minimizing caffeine, especially late in the day
  4. Eating more whole foods and fewer processed foods
  5. Maintaining a healthy weight
  6. Drinking a lot of water
  7. Exercising daily
The most productive people take more breaks

Humans naturally move from full focus and energy to psychological fatigue once every 90 minutes. Our body sends us signals to rest and renew but what do we do? We override them with coffee, energy drinks and sugar. Productivity is about energy and focus, not time.

With the Pomodoro method, you set a timer for 25 minutes, work on a single task with your full focus, then take a 5 minute break to get up, move around and maybe chat with someone. Then repeat the cycle.

What does this mean for you? If you’re…

An entrepreneur: energize to get more balance in your life

An executive: energize to get home for dinner with family

A freelancer: energize to be more productive during sleepy afternoons

A student: energize to reduce the number of all-night cramming

A parent: energize to be more patient with family members


Bonus: 20 More Time and Productivity Hacks

  1. Always cook more than one meal at a time.
  2. Offload your memory with your camera phone.
  3. Mute your phone and turn off all notifications.
  4. Drink a healthy protein shake for breakfast.
  5. Never watch live TV.
  6. Don’t watch TV at all.
  7. Use your drive time productively.
  8. Never call people without setting an appointment ahead of time.
  9. Avoid busy times out in the real world if at all possible.
  10. Use dual monitors.
  11. Have a stop-doing list.
  12. Remind people of the ‘end time’ (for meetings, conversations, training…)
  13. Hang out with productive people.
  14. Tell people around you to leave you alone.
  15. Buy birthday cards by the dozen.
  16. Pay bills electronically.
  17. Never answer a call from an unknown number.
  18. Get a business coach, mentor or join a mastermind group.
  19. Release your content through multiple channels.
  20. Know that done is better than perfect.

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