15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs
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Published: 10/12/2015
New York Times bestselling author, Kevin Kruse, presents the remarkable findings of his study of ultra-productive people. Based on survey research and interviews with billionaires, Olympic athletes, straight-A students, and over 200 entrepreneurs--including Mark Cuban, Kevin Harrington, James Altucher, John Lee Dumas, Grant Cardone, and Lewis Howes--Kruse answers the question: what are the secrets to extreme productivity?

Book Summary - 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse

Key Insights

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to accomplish so much in a day while you can’t seem to find the time? In today’s society, your time is being filled up with endless tasks and interruptions. Replying to emails, responding to text messages, or constant calls on your phone. All of these things steal your time from more important tasks.

Successful people know that time management is key to getting things done. Think about it, if you lose five minutes because you’re replying to a text, you’re never getting that five minutes back. Fortunately, there are some tricks to make sure your time is not taken away and keep you on track.

Learning the habits of successful people is a great way to manage your time and will help you to improve your productivity in all parts of your life. As you will discover, none of these habits are hard to incorporate, and some are as simple as carrying a notebook with you. By learning the following 15 secrets, you will be able to find more success and more time in your day.

Key Points

1. The most valuable commodity in your life is time so don’t waste it.

One of the things you have to remember is that time lost will never be regained. The best way to prevent losing time is to think of it is a commodity and break it down into measurable units. One way is to break the day down into minutes. There are a total of 1,440 minutes in each day and it is up to you how to use them.

Think of all the things you can do in a minute. You can water a plant or do some exercises. The point is, if you break down your day into minutes, you can see which tasks consume the most time and arrange your day more effectively.

2. Learning how to prioritize tasks will reduce how much time you waste.

Now that you have broken your day up into minutes, the next step is to arrange things more efficiently. A good method to use is to prioritize by importance. The Most Important Task method, known as MIT, helps you to organize your day more efficiently.

When you complete your MITs first, You feel a sense of achievement and it elevates your mood for the rest of the day. Think about it, if you leave your MITs until later in the day, they will be on your mind while you are working on other activities. This is because the MITs have the most meaningful impact on your day or your life. By completing the MITS first, you can focus your energy on other tasks without any distractions.

3. Stop making lists of things to do and start using a calendar instead.

You probably have a to-do list, everyone does. When you make a list, do you have tasks that stay on there for days or weeks at a time? The answer is probably yes. That’s because these kinds of lists rarely have any structure to them and, as a result, items remain, causing you more anxiety.

A more productive way to organize tasks is by using a calendar. Instead of having an endless list of things to get done, you will have allocated times and days to complete each task. Using a calendar will also help you to plan out your work week and prioritize your MITs. Not only will you reduce your anxiety, but you can also reschedule remaining tasks on your calendar. They may not be done by the original day but you will still have a set date to complete them by.

Having a calendar will also allow you to make time for leisure. Making time for yourself is just as important as completing tasks. It allows you to relax without any overlap between work and personal time. Organizing your life using a calendar helps you to optimize your days and reduce your stress in a way that making lists can’t.

4. The best way to stop procrastinating is to think about what you will do in the future.

There are always tasks that you don’t want to do, maybe because they are too difficult or just not interesting. Whatever the reason, you will likely avoid completing such tasks and end up spending your time doing something to distract yourself.

You’re not alone, many people delay tasks for the same reasons. Fortunately, there are ways to beat procrastination and get the important things done. One way is to imagine yourself in the near future.

For example, if there is a task you have to do but you want to text your friend, do the task immediately, and text later. After you have done the task you can take your time in responding properly to your friend. Or imagine how you will feel if you fail to do that important task. Ask yourself how it will affect your day if you can’t complete it.

You can also ask a friend or colleague to help you. Having someone count on you creates a commitment that you are less likely to bail on. If you are trying to go for a morning run every day, having a friend commit to doing it with you will make you accountable for two people if you skip a morning. This will encourage you to get out the door each day.

If you want to become more productive, it’s best to realize that not everything will be perfect. One of the most common reasons people do not start a task or project is because they want everything to be perfect and in place before they start. You can end up preventing yourself from moving forward because you think something is not the best it can be. If you learn to be comfortable with imperfections you can stop procrastinating. You can improve on things as you progress.

One of the most effective ways to prevent procrastinating is to design a penalty for yourself if you fail to complete tasks. This could be donating money to charity. This way you encourage yourself to complete tasks or risk financial expenses. It also allows someone else to benefit if you do fail so that you are not too discouraged by your failure.

5. If you understand there is always more to do you’re in a good place.

You’re probably aware there are things you cannot do as well as others. That’s ok. Everyone has limitations. For example, you may find that despite your best planning, you still have a lot of tasks to do. The secret is to select your most urgent and reschedule everything else.

Once you learn to accept that you will always have more to do, you will feel less stressed about the things you can’t complete immediately and be able to live a normal life.

6. Always keep a notebook with you so you can write down your best ideas.

Have you ever thought of a really good idea only to forget it a little later on? A good habit to implement is keeping a notebook by your side.

Writing down ideas and notes is a good way to enhance memory recall. Research has shown that when you take handwritten notes, your ability to recall the information is much better.

The tactile approach is more productive than typing and will help you to stay focused on your objectives without forgetting fundamental details.

7. Stop making your inbox a priority and reduce the time you look at email.

Spending time constantly checking your email is pointless. You end up wasting more time refreshing your inbox than you should. Think about how much more productive you can be if you don’t check your email constantly. If you count the minutes you spend clicking on your inbox you can see how much time you take away from other tasks.

One of the best ways to stop yourself from wasting time on email is to implement the 321-zero method. Using this method you only allow yourself to look at your inbox three times a day and allow 21 minutes to empty your inbox. This will prevent you from procrastinating over emails and break the habit of endlessly checking your inbox.

8. Minimize the number of meetings you take.

Meetings are often a waste of time. The most successful people only hold meetings as a last resort. If you need to meet with people about something important, you can devise ways to eliminate wasting time.

One method is to replace formal meetings with brief informal huddles. You can cover all the relevant points in about ten minutes. This will keep everyone energized for work and prevent you from using up too much time.

9. Saying no can be liberating and help your productivity.

If you are the type of person who says yes to everyone, you probably end up more stressed that you don’t have time to get everything done. Saying yes to other people prevents you from committing time to your MITs.

You have to be able to say no to the things that distract you from your priorities. It may not be easy at first, but you can learn to say no. If you stop giving other people your time, you can focus on your priorities and prevent yourself from losing time.

10. The Pareto Principle will help you to increase your abilities to manage your time and improve your quality of life.

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 20/80 Rule, claims that 20% of your effort accounts for 80% of the work you do. This means that the vast majority of results come from a small portion of your time and effort.

If you implement this rule into your daily life you will notice your ability to complete tasks will greatly improve. Using the Pareto Principle you can identify the tasks that will produce the most impact with the least effort. This will help you to use your time efficiently and get the most out of your day.

11. Identify the tasks you don’t need to do yourself to improve your performance.

One of the best ways to make time for your important tasks is to delegate other less important items to colleagues. Freeing up your time will allow you to focus on MITs and reduce the stress you would feel by having too many things to do. Not only will you reduce stress but you will also regain some valuable minutes in your day.

The other aspect of delegation is that you become a team player, even if you are the CEO. By allowing other members of your team to take responsibility for tasks shows you are capable of trusting others to do the work. This will enhance overall productivity and also decrease the amount of redundant work you have to do.

12. Create themes to streamline your efforts and make your time use more efficient.

Most days in the office you probably find yourself spread thin, focusing on many different tasks. One way to limit this from happening is to group items together thematically. For example, Mondays could be dedicated to working on major projects while Wednesdays could be assigned as days to catch up on administration work or unfinished minor tasks.

When you batch items together you give yourself a set day to complete those items and put them out of your mind. It also allows you to focus your energy on specific tasks each day without feeling like you are being pulled in different directions.

Imagine if you have a team all working on the same tasks on specified days. If you are working toward the same goal you can support each other and offer encouragement. With this kind of team atmosphere, you will create a more productive work environment.

13. If you have tasks that can be done quickly, then do them straight away.

You probably have some tasks you can complete pretty quickly. It is best to get them done before you start getting weighed down by more important work. By tackling tasks that can be completed in under five minutes, you immediately remove numerous items from your day.

Think of the quickest ways to handle these tasks immediately. For example, if you can answer someone quickly on the phone instead of writing an email, call them. Also, create a time block for minor tasks and tackle them within that one time block. This will free up the rest of your day to focus on more important tasks and mitigate wasted minutes.

14. Create a morning routine to enhance your wellness and improve your mindset.

If you start your day off with a workout and a good breakfast, chances are you will be focused and energized for the rest of the day. In contrast, if you start your day off behind schedule you will likely find your day is spent catching up and you lose sight of your goals.

Get into a morning routine and keep to it. For example, if you enjoy running, go for a morning jog and follow it with a healthy breakfast. Starting the day off this way will also ensure you have a dedicated time slot for your wellness. If you allocate time later in the day, you are at risk of forfeiting your workouts if something unexpected comes up or not having the energy to exercise after work.

15. Make time to restore your energy and you will be able to manage your workday better.

Being productive isn’t just about working all the time. If you spend 12 hours at work, it doesn’t mean you are going to produce better results than the person who works an 8 hour day. Having the energy to focus on tasks when you are at work is more important than how long you are there.

Getting a full night’s sleep is essential if you want to be fully recharged for the next day. You can also implement the Pomodoro Technique which requires you to spend 25 minutes focused on a single task without distractions and then follow it with a 5-minute break.

These breaks allow you to recharge throughout the day, keeping you at maximum energy levels and maintaining a high level of productivity. When you incorporate these techniques together, you can reduce the number of minutes you waste each day.

The Main Take-away

The most successful people regard time as a precious commodity and you can use these 15 methods to capture lost time and increase your productivity.

Start by ditching the to-do list and instead prioritizing what’s important. Do what you can to set yourself up for success and minimize distractions. Find ways to become more efficient. But don’t forget to take breaks for yourself.

About the Author

Kevin Kruse is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and Forbes columnist. He started his first company at 22 years old and since then has created several multimillion-dollar companies.

Kruse is a renowned expert in productivity. He has traveled the globe delivering keynote speeches about productivity and was named the Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust.

He is the founder and current CEO of Leadx, an online learning platform that provides free leadership development. Kruse has won Inc 500 and Best Place to Work awards for his companies.

Kruse lives in Pennsylvania with his three children.

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