I want to accomplish a lot in my life. As a result, I’m always looking for new time management strategies. I’ve written previous posts about prioritizing time and cutting out the unnecessary. There are many tools and tricks for being more efficient with time, such as task management apps and audiobook or podcast apps for consuming content while doing other things.
By piecing all of this information together, we can learn and experiment with how to make the most of our time. All of this is good, but I haven’t found what I feel is a comprehensive framework for thinking about time management.
That is, until now. I recently read the book Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden.
Vaden addresses perfectly what I felt was missing from other frameworks but couldn’t identify.
Other time management strategies focus on efficiency and prioritization. It is about allocating our 168 hours per week to get as much of your most important activities done as possible.
Instead of efficiency and prioritization, Vaden describes how to multiply our time. In essence, it’s about spending time on things today that will give us more time tomorrow.
To help us think about what will give us more time tomorrow, he adds a dimension missing from other time management strategies. Other strategies, such as Stephen R. Covey’s Time Management Matrix, manage time by weighing urgency (when does it matter) and importance (how much does it matter). Vaden adds significance (how long does it matter).
Significance addresses how what we do today affects us in the future.
What can I do today that will add more time in the future? How do I multiply my time?
Vaden suggests that we run tasks through the following funnel:
1. Eliminate. This is the fastest way to free up more time in the future!
2. Automate. Sometimes it takes an investment in time and/or money to automate tasks, but automation frees up more time in the future. It may be an investment of time and money to set up a software system, such as Infusionsoft to automate customer interactions. It may be an investment of time to set up bills on auto-pay.
3. Delegate. This is also an investment because it takes time to train someone to do a task, but it will free up time in the future. He suggests the 30x rule. Even if it takes 30x as long to train someone as it does to do the task, it’s still worth the investment.
For tasks that make it through the funnel, we can choose to:
1. Procrastinate, or
I’ve always thought of procrastinating as a bad thing. Vaden calls me a Worry Wart. I like to get things done the first possible moment they can be done.
However, getting things done early exposes us to what he calls change risk. Between the time we complete a task and when it needs to be done, something might change. Maybe that task didn’t have to be done at all, or maybe the change means you have to redo the task.
I’ve been too busy congratulating myself for usually being ahead of schedule to recognize the wisdom in this principle. I have to admit that there have been many cases where getting things done early has actually taken more of my time later. I have filed tax returns early only to get another slip that I wasn’t expecting. I have responded to group emails right away even though someone else on the email was in a better position to address the issue. I could go on with examples.
Gun Slingers are on the other side of the procrastination spectrum. They leave everything to the last minute, and they risk missing important deadlines.
The challenge is to find a happy medium. Do a task early enough that you don’t risk being late, but not so early that you risk something changing.
In summary, time management is really about self management. It is about taking time now to make sure I live the life I want to live in the future. It’s about being successful in the way I define success.
Question: What do you to today that creates more time in the future?