Final Words on Time (part five)

Part Five: Final Words

Do Less

  • Every day, choose three things on your to-do list and decide NOT to do them. Ever. Now cross them off.
  • Say no.
  • Say no.
  • Say no again.
  • Only do things that are in line with your purpose.

The Hardest Part Is Starting

  • Plan and prioritize.
  • Set yourself up the night before for success the next day.
  • Get started.
  • Work for at least five uninterrupted minutes. Then keep going.
  • Time yourself. I like Tick Tock Timer (hat tip to Write to Done).


  • Chunk your time.
  • Do one thing at a time. Don’t multi-task.
  • Do the three most important things first. Do them before you check email / facebook / twitter / phone messages.
  • Do a thing until it’s finished.
  • Keep a notebook beside you to jot down the distracting things. Go back to them later rather than interrupt what you are working on now.
  • Use Leechblock if your internet self-control leaves something to be desired.
  • Have a scheduled time to crash through all the little things that get in the way and take up your time.
  • Set time limits on how much time you are willing to spend on a project. If writing a document is supposed to take you one hour, then schedule an hour, write it, and then call it done. Good enough.
  • Move away from your computer.

Don’t Let Email or Meetings Get in Your Way

  • Especially move away from your email.
  • Set a personal goal of limiting the length of your emails – save your time, and the time of those who read them (see
  • Don’t answer emails that don’t need answers. No emails that say “Thanks.”
  • Chunk your email time. Limit your email chunks to a 15/30/45 minute chunks 1/2/3 times a day.
  • Suggest alternatives to meetings.
  • Be a vocal advocate for meeting efficiency. Speak up, do time checks, and arrive and leave on time, whether or not the meeting ends on time.

The Big Picture

  • Do a monthly time audit.
  • Make sure you’re creating space in your life for fun. Otherwise, you might try to get your fun fix by fiddling away a whole bunch of time on something work-related that’s unimportant but more fun than what you really need to do.
  • Be clear on your purpose, and plan actions that are in line with it.

If you need a system, check out:


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Truth in Data (part four)

Part Four: Truth in Data

This week, I’ve blogged about the mental switch from “managing time” to “managing actions”. I’ve said that my best tool for managing actions is my action management sword: clarity of purpose. I’ve referenced the Big Rocks concept to show that putting my big chunks of purpose work first gives me a structure to get more done, and to get more done in line with my purpose.

You might feel that you’re well on the way to moving your actions into line with your purpose. You might feel that you have a long way to go. You might have no idea. I invite you to start with getting curious. Honestly and non-judgmentally curious.

For one day, track what you do and what goal(s) you are pursuing by doing it. One whole day, from when you wake up to when you go to bed. Set up three columns: the time, in half hour increments; the activity; and the goal you are pursuing with that activity.

Remember, you are doing this out of curiosity. What actions are you undertaking today? What do your actions say about the goals that are important to you? What did you learn by recording your sample day? Are you acting in line with your purpose?


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