The high cost of letting ourselves get too busy

7 reasons why letting myself get too busy hurts me:

  1. I feel unable to explore my more creative, clever side.
    I am an intelligent,creative individual. I am capable of very clever ideas.  But I never have a proper moment to think of these ideas lying deep inside me. I am always too busy doing stuff.
    COST:  Those clever, creative  ideas never get  born.
  2. All my time is already allocated. That means I can’t act on special opportunities ( or maybe even notice them) when they come up. (Read the Prologue: Starting with a Handshake (p xi) in Creating a World Without Poverty where Muhummad Yunus, creator of the Grameen Bank (micro-finance), describes the magnificent thing that happens because he wasn’t too busy to act on a special opportunity that presented itself  to him.)
    COST:  High-impact  opportunities  fail to get turned into realities.
  3. I am  so booked-up to do daily, routine tasks I have no chance to explore higher order strategic issues where I could make  big impact.
    COST: I am failing to  fully exploit my opportunity to display leadership.

  4. I feel bad a lot of the time. I do clever and wonderful things all day long — things I should proud of. But I never seem to have a moment just to sit back and and  feel proud of what I’ve just done. That’s because as soon as I finish one thing, I must start another.
    COST: I don’t re-charge my “feeling-good-about-myself” batteries often enough.

  5. I constantly work to a point of exhaustion and don’t get enough sleep. As a result, I don’t feel good:

    (a) My mood feels flat and I feel less responsive to other people’s needs. My focus turns inwards, I feel numb towards other people and my “world shrinks”. Other people feel hurt by my seeming indifference and our relationship suffers. I feel guilty about this sense of  numbness, which makes me feel  even worse about myself.

    (b)  My life feels very unbalanced – I haven’t got  time or energy to devote to other things like  my health or making time for others or having fun. I tell myself “I’ll just get over this hump, and then I can attend to those other important things.”  But then something else comes up.

    (c) I am not enjoying my work so much  anymore. It used to be so satisfying, but now everything  feels like a big chore. There’s no joy anymore.

    (d) I have really low energy and it’s such an effort dragging my body around.

    (e) I have a sense of  total lack of control over my time –  every spare minute seems to be allocated.  I no longer feel I have any free choice over how I spend my time.
    COST: I suffer burn-out, depression, stress and inflammation in various parts of my body, leading to reduced immunity, symptoms and ultimately killer diseases — of course a rotten quality of life.

  6. I am not functioning at my peak. My attention is so focused on all these consuming tasks that I fail to notice small, minor problems arising. Or if I do notice them, I don’t have the energy to deal with them. As a result,  some of these small problems grow into big, serious problems.
    COST: Problems  that I would normally deal with end up costing me dearly.
  7. I am working under so much pressure and so tired that I am starting to make errors. These are errors of ineptitude such as forgetting to do things I wouldn’t normally forget to do or cutting corners in my thinking. I hate making these errors because I know they are so avoidable.  I beat myself up badly for making them. I end up losing confidence in myself.
    COST: I lose confidence in myself and my self-respect.

Conclusion: It’s smart to give ourselves the luxury of opting out for short spells during the day–to reflect, to gain perspective, pat ourselves on the back for jobs done well, to catch our breath, and so on. Just 5 or 10 minutes here and there could make all the difference.

Good time management anecdotes and analogies

Look for things to kill.

“Robert Townsend suggests that every company should have a vice president in charge of killing things. He says, ‘General Foods, the AFL-CIO, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Ford Foundation should make it a practice to wipe out their worst product, service, or activity every so often. And I don’t mean cutting it back or remodeling it–I mean right between the eyes.‘ ”

from Edwin Bliss’s book Getting Things Done, p 90

Read selectively.

“Perhaps the most succinct comment on selectivity in reading is by James McCay, who asks, ‘Would you like to be able to read 50,000 words a minute? There are many time when it is easy to do this if you know how. All you have to be able to do is to recognize within one minute that a 50,000-word book does not suit your purposes, and decide not to read it.‘ ”

from Edwin Bliss’s book Getting Things Done, p 97

Getting things done means finishing what you start.

“In baseball, victory is determined not by hits but by runs. The player who gets to third base and no farther doesn’t get credit for three-quarters of a run.

It’s that way with a task. Getting started is fine, and carrying it forward is fine, but until the task is completed you haven’t done what you set out to do.  Yet many people form the habit of “working for a while” on a project, then  setting it aside, kidding themselves into thinking that they have accomplished something. All  they are doing is leaving men  stranded on base!”

from Edwin Bliss’s book Getting Things Done, p 114

Watch out for upward delegation.

“In a Harvard Business Review article, William Oncken, Jr., and Donald Wass give a perceptive analysis of what they call “subordinate-imposed time”:

“Let us imagine that a manager is walking down the hall and he notices one of his subordinates, Mr. A, coming up the hallway. When they are abreast of one another, Mr. A greets the manager with, “Good morning. By the way, we’ve got a problem. You see. . . .” As Mr. A continues, the manager recognizes in this problem the same two characteristics common to all the problems his subordinates gratuitously bring to his attention. Namely, the manager know (a) enough to get involved, but (b)  not enough to make a on-the-spot decision expected of him. Eventually, the manager says, “So glad you brought this up. I’m in a rush right now. Meanwhile, let me think about it and I’ll let you know.” Then he and Mr. A part company.

Let us analyze what has just happened. Before the two of them met, on whose back was the”monkey”? The subordinate’s. After they parted, on whose back was it? The manager’s. Subordinate-imposed time begins the moment a monkey successfully executes a leap from the back of a subordinate to the back of his superior and does not end until the monkey is returned to its proper owner for care and feeding.

. . .The only way to end upward delegation is to toss the ball right back to your subordinates. When they habitually come to you with problems and ask you to make a decision, simply ask, “Which course do you think would be better?” Force them to  make decisions (or at least firm recommendations) themselves, and unless some very serious mistake is likely, don’t second-guess them.”

from Edwin Bliss’s book Getting Things Done, p 116-7

Memorize these words: Next time. . .

“A famous New York psychiatrist, nearing the end of a long and illustrious career several years ago, said that the most useful concept he had discovered for helping people turn their lives around was what he called his “four little words.” The first two were if only.

“Many of my patients have spent their lives living in the past,” he said, “anguishing about what they should have done in various situations. ‘If only I had prepared better for that interview . . .’ ‘If only I had expressed my true feeling to the boss . . .’  ‘If only I had taken that accounting course . . .’ ”

Wallowing in this sea of regret is a serious emotional drain. The antidote is simple: eliminate those two words from your vocabulary. Substitute the words next time, and tell yourself, ‘Next time I’m going to be prepared . . .Next time I’m going to speak out . . .Next time I have a chance I’m going to take that class . . .’ ”

from Edwin Bliss’s book Getting Things Done, p 44-5

Conquer procrastination with the “Salami Technique”.

“A salami in its original state, before it has been cut, is unwieldy and looks unappetizing. But cut it into thin slices and it takes on quite a different aspect. Now you have something manageable, something you can “get your teeth into.”

When you realize you are procrastinating on a major task, slice it up into as many small, manageable “instant tasks” as possible. Promise yourself that you won’t force yourself to get involved with the main job, provided you do at least one of the small steps on your list.

. . .Remember the first slice–the first instant task–is always to list in writing the small steps involved in getting the job done.

“Divide and conquer” applies to tasks just as it does to armies or enemies.”

from Edwin Bliss’s book Getting Things Done, p 84-5

Good time-management sayings


  1. Time is money.
  2. If in doubt, throw it out.
  3. Plan tomorrow today.
  4. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  5. Do the worst first. (Brian Tracy)
  6. Finish what you start.
  7. Getting it done is my reward. (Ben Franklin)
  8. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
  9. Quit talking and start doing. (after Walt Disney)
  10. Pull the trigger!
  11. An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
  12. The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.
  13. Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today. (after Ben Franklin)
  14. It’s better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing quickly. (Peter Turla)
  15. Work smarter, not harder.
  16. Well begun is half done.
  17. A stitch in time saves nine.
  18. The early bird catches the worm.

Parkinson’s Law–the original essay by Cyril Parkinson


Parkinson’s Law

Nov 19th 1955

IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil. . .

Click here for the link to the complete essay.

124 practical time-management tips

Up the tempo!

  1. Set stretch targets for skill activities e.g. Goal: Win 3 points from my drop-shot in this set of tennis.
  2. Set lots of mini-deadlines.
  3. Play  the game of trying to see how much you can accomplish in a given time.

Use good time-management tools

  1. If you do a lot of writing or computer work, use two monitors. One is not enough!
  2. Use a headset for phone or hands-free phone.
  3. Get yourself a large storage unit and fill it with household objects organized in alphabetical order. B = batteries; U = umbrella, etc. it’s a good system for storing and finding stuff.
  4. Get a kitchen timer. Set it to go off in 25 minutes (or whatever). Then work flat out on a task without stopping until the timer goes off.
  5. Get yourself a standing desk so you can alternate between sitting and standing while working. You may work better standing!
  6. Buy and learn to use voice-recognition software.
  7. Wear a golfer’s counting watch and click the counter every time you catch yourself working well or finishing something.
  8. Use Google Calendar; this way, if you have a smart phone, you’ll always have your calendar with you. And you can set Google calendar to alert you when events are coming up.
  9. Find a random signal generator and get it to beep you every 15 minutes or so to remind you to check how you’re working e.g. “Am I using my time well right now?” I created a simple random signal generator by inserting signals into a multi-hour audio file.
  10. Drink coffee/other caffeinated substances (within reason!) to enhance your alertness and concentration powers .
  11. Eat regularly throughout the day to keep up your blood glucose level, especially while doing cognitively or emotionally demanding activities.

Conquer procrastination

  1. Do your ugliest task of the day first. That way, the rest of the day will feel great. (This is is called “Eat the toad first”!)
  2. If you’ve been putting off doing a dreaded task for a long time and you catch yourself wanting to do it, stop everything and do it! Strike while the iron’s hot!
  3. Develop a “getting started” ritual. For example, take three deep breaths, visualize yourself doing all the steps to complete the task ahead of you, and then say “Let’s go!”
  4. If you become immobilized with fear, work out a routine that works for you to get yourself moving  on it again (!)
  5. If there’s something that needs to be done and you catch yourself having procrastinating thoughts about doing it, think about what procrastinating thoughts you’re telling yourself and write them down. Sometimes, awareness of how silly you’re being and the chore and shame of having to write those excuses down might be enough to get you to do what you’re wanting to put off.
  6. Write down the things you procrastinate about as they happen. This way you can learn what things you procrastinate about and why.
  7. Divide and conquer. Apply the salami technique. Break down overwhelming or unpleasant tasks into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Settle for “good enough” instead of “perfect” more often.

Cunning strategies to manage time-wasting phone calls

  1. Call at inconvenient times e.g. meal times or just before lunch and end of day when phoning people who trap you into long conversations.
  2. Stand up when calling someone who might entice you into prolonged conversation.
  3. Rote-learn conversation escape lines: “I’d love to keep chatting, but I’ve got some people waiting outside to see me.” “I’m working to a deadline right now. Can I call you later?”

Control distractions and interruptions

  1. Turn off your email alert–the frequent dinging noise is much too tempting to ignore.
  2. When you get interrupted, jot down your next action step to do when you return.
  3. Turn off your internet connection when you’re doing really important tasks to avoid the temptation of checking your email and social media when your task gets hard or you get tired.
  4. Block interruptions at the source e.g. switch your phone to silent; turn off your email alert, work at home, etc.
  5. Use one of those software programs to ban yourself from time-wasting websites during specified times.

Write stuff down

  1. Write down any good ideas you have onto a single piece of paper and put it in your in tray for processing later.
  2. Keep an out-and-about errand list
  3. When you get interrupted, write down your next action step to do when you return.
  4. Add reminders of important events coming up into your calendar e.g. “ABC report now due in one week’s time.” ” Europe holiday now one month away.”
  5. Set up the Evernote application on your smart phone so you can jot down any spontaneous good ideas that pop into your head and store them safely.
  6. Get everything out of your head and down on paper. It’s safer that way–and heaps less stressful.
  7. After recurring but irregular events such as annual report time  or annual conferences, do an after-action report where you note down all the things that went well and badly for next time.
  8. Keep a “things pending” list where you keep tabs on who you’re waiting to hear from.
  9. For each mini-projects you’ve got going, specify your next action–the specific thing you need to do next to progress your project.
  10. Do your serious thinking on paper or on computer–writing your thoughts down helps you stay focused, think better and produce a hard copy of your thoughts to refer to later.

Automate things/create automatic habits

  1. Automate direct debit for regular bills such as electricity, health fund, etc.
  2. Work hard to create automatic habits and routines e.g. have a “first thing in morning” routine, a ‘getting ready to give a presentation” routine, etc
  3. Set implementation intentions to create automatic habits. For example, “If I am going up the stairs, I will run up.” “If I’m about to phone someone for a catch-up chat, I will spend a few moments beforehand  thinking about what they’ve been up to and what to ask them about.”
  4. Work hard to create productive habits that will repay you handsomely for your trouble the rest of your life. (High return on investment!)
  5. Practice making routine decisions easily. Work out effective strategies beforehand e.g. pick the restaurant with easy parking or is likely to be quiet, toss a coin if I can’t decide, etc.

Be aware

  1. Be aware of how you’re spending your time. Regulary pull yourself out of unconscious mode into conscious mode.
  2. Set up a random signal generator to beep you every 15 minutes or so as a cue to check whether you’re spending your time wisely right now.
  3. Try not to interrupt others if busy working. Find a time that suits you both.
  4. Be fully focused: focus your energy and attention on just one thing at a time.
  5. Always ask yourself: “Is there a better way to do this?”
  6. Break your day into 10-minute segments and see how few 10-minute segments you can waste (Ingvar Kamprad’s idea).

Focus on results and finishing stuff

  1. Develop the “compulsion for closure” habit (Edwin Bliss)–develop an irresistible urge to finish off nearly completed tasks.
  2. Pat yourself on back for any small wins.
  3. Celebrate every time you finish something–even if it’s just a simple “well done, me” and a quick pat on the back.
  4. Wear a golfer’s “watch” and generously click the counter every time you finish some task or do something well.
  5. Set task targets, rather than time targets. That is, rather than scheduling to work on a project for an hour or so, instead set yourself the task of completing three emails, or whatever.
  6. Adopt a ROWE –a results-only work environment. Think in terms of outcomes and results rather than activity and busy-ness and procedure-following (within reason!).

Get organized. Use a good filing system

  1. Use a simple alphabetical filing system. You might  break this down into work and non-work categories.
  2. Use an in tray and clear it daily.
  3. Set up separate in-trays for your partner and other family members and throw in telephone messages and mail and ideas you want to tell them.
  4. When in doubt, throw it out!
  5. Follow Edwin Bliss’s filing rule: “A few fat files are better than lots of thin files.”
  6. Find a home for everything, and know where that home is. Alphabetical filing is good!
  7. Work in an uncluttered office:
    (a)allocate 10 minutes a day to putting stuff away;
    (b)learn to put things away after you’ve finished with them.
  8. Put unprocessed stuff into your in tray and empty your in tray every day.

Be smart

  1. Stop making rash promises. Under-promise and over-deliver.
  2. Apply the Pareto Principle: spend more time on the vital few tasks that yield big results.
  3. Stop doing things that don’t work.
  4. Do acts of prevention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
  5. Don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over.
  6. Always ask yourself: “Is there a better way to do this?”
  7. Don’t brood about past mistakes. Instead of saying “If only“, say “Next time.”
  8. Define successful outcomes for all your mini-projects. Know exactly what you’re working for.
  9. Experiment! Keep thinking up new, hopefully better ways of doing things. It makes life more fun and more productive.
  10. Learn to say no to unimportant things.
  11. Learn to say yes to important things.
  12. Identify bottlenecks and work out how to get rid of them.
  13. Stop yourself thinking this all the time:, “It’s OK if I can’t finish this now.  I’ll take it home and finish it tonight.
  14. Don’t drink alcohol at lunch.
  15. Don’t drink too much alcohol at work functions, or you might end up destroying your hard-won reputation with just one disinhibited remark or action.
  16. Work out effective time-management strategies beforehand e.g. prefer quiet restaurants, arrive before rush hour, arrive at cinema early enough to choose good seats, etc.
  17. Don’t make important decisions when you’re not thinking well.
  18. Focus your energy and time on things you can control and learn to ignore things you can’t control.
  19. Work out effective strategies beforehand e.g. prefer quiet restaurants, arrive before rush hour, arrive at cinema early enough to choose good seats, etc.
  20. Spend a few moments at the end of each day savoring the good moments. Not only will you have the pleasure of re-living these good moments,  but the act of recalling them will help lock them into your long -term memory.

Schedule time wisely

  1. Identify your most creative time, protect it, use it well, and defend it ruthlessly.
  2. Check email at set times each day.
  3. Batch-process as much as possible e.g. out-and-about errands, phone calls, morning routine, end-of-week round-up, etc
  4. Do things that take just a couple of minutes straight away.
  5. Schedule large chunks of uninterrupted time for important projects.
  6. Identify your MITs –Most Important Tasks for the day– and do them before other less important tasks.
  7. Plan your weekends and non-work time. Don’t fritter away your precious “your time”.
  8. Spend time at the start of the week thinking about what you’d like to achieve in the coming week.
  9. Spend time at the end of the week reviewing how the week went.
  10. Allocate time each day caring for your body. If you look after it, it will look after you.
  11. Take regular 5-minute exercise breaks to get your blood flowing to your brain.
  12. Spend time consolidating what you’ve just learned–take catnaps,  take short meditation breaks, get a good night’s sleep, practice recalling what you can remember, etc.
  13. Force yourself to make time to plan before leaping in, even if just for a few seconds.
  14. Build in a comfortable cushion of extra time to protect yourself against Murphy’s Law when working to a deadline.
  15. Arrive at events early if this works to your advantage:
    (a) arrive at restaurant before rush hour;
    (b) arrive at the cinema early to choose good seats;
  16. avoid peak hour when commuting to and from work.

Kill time-wasters

  1. Use waiting time wisely–carry with you reading material your list of phone calls to make, information to memorize, etc.
  2. Reduce your commute time as much as possible — when buying or renting a property, be prepared to pay extra to live closer to your work.
  3. Conduct regular audits for time-wasting activities.
  4. Set yourself  the challenge of finding 10 time-wasting activities to kill in your everyday activities.
  5. Block junk at the source:
    (a)unsubscribe to unwanted emails, put yourself on the do-not-call register, put up signs requesting no junk mail and no hawkers/collectors/religious callers, etc;
    (b) block access from your favorite  time-wasting websites when working;
  6. Watch TV very selectively especially programs with ads.
  7. Get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and see if you miss the sleep. Give yourself two weeks to adjust before deciding.
  8. Identify your cognitively dead times at work, and schedule easy tasks during this time e.g. exercise, phone calls, meetings, etc

Read intelligently

  1. Read selectively. You can waste a lot of time mindlessly reading stuff.
  2. Apply what you read. Otherwise, what’s the point of reading it?
  3. After you’ve been reading for a while, stop and recall what you’ve read. Then check what you’ve forgotten. This is painful to do, but it helps to lock in the key points into your memory.
  4. Before reading a lengthy document, write down what you’re hoping to find out.  Setting the intention will help your brain spot relevant information when it appears and ignore the other stuff.

Master time-saving skills

  1. Learn how to type.
  2. Learn how to concentrate.
  3. Learn how to communicate well.
  4. Learn how to make routine decisions quickly.
  5. Learn how to coach others well. Don’t re-do your subordinates’ poor work for them; teach them how to do their work the way you want them to do it.
  6. Learn how to create good habits that will repay you a thousand-fold and stop bad habits that cost you big time when added up over time.
  7. Learn how to get your children to be helpful, contributing members of the house.
  8. Learn how to estimate accurately how long a task will take. Before starting any task, estimate how long you think it will take; then see how accurate you were. You’ll soon get much better at estimating how long things take in real life.

Manage other people well

  1. Give really clear instructions to others about what you want.
  2. Ask people when they write to you to “open with their news” ( i.e. begin with their key point); this way you won’t have to read most of the document in a vacuum. If the report is longer than 4 pages, insist on an opening executive summary.
  3. Get people in meetings to focus on the question: “What is the next action we need to take?”

What’s some good time-management self-talk?

Positive slogans

I finish what I start.

I am what I do.

I do chucky chores, even though I don’t want to.

I’m a doer–I get things done!

I can do this!

I don’t like doing this, but I’ll do it anyway.

This is hard! I like a challenge.

Nothing’s so bad that I can’t do it for five minutes.


Just do it!

Have a go!

Keep going!

Just do it for 5 minutes and see how it goes.

I’ll do 5 more minutes.

Stop fussing and just start!



Do the right thing!

Say yes!

Don’t make big promises that will just weigh me down!

Under-promise and over-deliver.

Shhhh!!! (to distracting or negative thoughts).

Stop! Think it through first!

Try again.

Stop wasting time! You’re just procrastinating.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes–just keep going.

This is hard, but keep going.

Well done! You did it! (Pat myself on back!)

Good job! You did well!

How can I manage my time better?

Answer: Keep these lists:

  1. Promises you’ve made;
  2. “Doing the right thing” things e.g. reply to A’s email, apologize to B for…, congratulate C for…, ask D about her… etc;
  3. Mini-projects you’ve got on the go, along with the next action step for each;
  4. Your key time-wasting activities;
  5. Your “cognitive-net” checklists to remind you what to do in various situations e.g. out-and-about errand list, final-edit check, what-to-take-when-travelling list;
  6. Your various routines e.g. anticrastination routine, concentration routine, start of day routine, end-of-day routine, end-of-week round-up;
  7. Key time-management questions to ask yourself during the day;
  8. Key time-management affirmations;
  9. Motivating time-management quotes;
  10. Completed mini-projects;
  11. Small wins;
  12. Current implementation intentions (“if-then” statements for habit-building);
  13. Current habits under development;
  14. Skills you’d like to learn;
  15. Obstacles–real and mental–blocking your progress.
  16. Goals for today, this week, this month, this year, in 5 years’ time, etc.
  17. Lessons learned.
  18. Magic phrases to use on others to control time.
  19. Acts of prevention.
  20. Things pending.

How can I manage my time better?

Answer: Do these things:

  1. Practice doing the (morally) right thing.
  2. Finish off incomplete tasks.
  3. Do the chucky, difficult things you’ve been putting off that need to be done.
  4. Do things that are likely to give you a high return on your effort.
  5. Do things you’ve promised to do.
  6. Do things that will advance your important goals.
  7. Do things that will push you through your mental bottlenecks.
  8. Work at creating good habits.
  9. Spend time thinking  i.e. clarifying desired outcomes, planning, mentally rehearsing doing the right actions, checking on progress, and reviewing outcomes.
  10. Learn important skills.
  11. Say Yes! to important things and No! to time-wasting things.
  12. Should I be struck by an urge to do something I’ve been putting off, stop everything and do it!
  13. Do something on my list of things to do that I suddenly feel very interested in.
  14. Do things that make me feel proud of myself.
  15. Do deliberate practice to improve my skills.
  16. Create checklists ( cognitive nets), memorize them and use them to help me remember–especially when I’m cognitively overloaded.
  17. Spend time telling my brain what I want–hopefully it will do the rest!
  18. Spend time saying “thank you”, “well done”, “I’m sorry”, “I admire the way you…”.
  19. Spend time really listening to others.
  20. Spend time focusing really hard on whatever you’re doing.
  21. Spend time planning and reflecting and being present in the moment.
  22. Spend time counting your blessings.
  23. Spend time turning my big talk into action.

20 time management rules

These are 20 rules of time management I picked up from Edwin Bliss’s excellent 1970’s Time Management classic called Getting Things Done.

  1. When filing,  remember that a few fat files work better than a lot of thin ones.
  2. When you stuff up, don’t say “If only“;  say  “Next time.
  3. Finish what you start. Don’t accumulate a long list of unfinished projects.
  4. Read selectively. You can waste a lot of time reading.
  5. Protect prime time. There are times when you think better than other times — use that time well.
  6. Start the day off with your most unpleasant task on your to-do list. That way, you’ll feel wonderful for the rest of the day, knowing you’ve got your most dreaded chore out of the way.
  7. Schedule large chunks of time for the important things and control interruptions.
  8. Reduce your commute time –or your wasted commute time.
  9. Create positive tension e.g.  set yourself deadlines, go public with your goals, invite others to evaluate your work, enter friendly competitions with others, etc.
  10. Break all tasks down to bite-sized pieces ( Bliss call this the salami technique).
  11. Plan before starting anything. Think:  “Is there a better way to do this?”
  12. Conduct post-mortems after projects. Ask yourself “How would I done this better. What will I do next time?”
  13. Identify mental blocks and use the salami technique to break the obstacle down into tiny pieces.
  14. Remember to pat yourself on the back whenever you do something well.
  15. Give very specific instructions. People can’t give you what you want if you don’t tell them precisely what you want.
  16. Learn to touch-type and use voice-recognition software.
  17. Replace neurotic perfectionism with the more practical concept of “good enough”.
  18. Learn to “focus like a laser”.
  19. Say “no” more often; make fewer promises.
  20. Use the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) to identify your most likely high-yield activities and allocate lots of time to those activities.

    Good time management quotes

    Don’t waste now:

    You can do so much in 10 minutes. Ten minutes, once gone, is gone for good.
    Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.
    ~Ingvar Kamprad (founder of IKEA)

    Get off your butt and do something. Lots of people have ideas, but few decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.
    ~Robert Browning

    Soon is not as good as now.
    ~Seth Godin

    Begin what you want to do now. We are not living in an eternity.
    ~M.B. Ray

    Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.
    ~Ben Franklin (up-dated)

    Yesterday is a cancelled check.
    Tomorrow is a promissory note.
    Today is ready cash. Use it!


    Make time for planning:

    Wars are won in the general’s tent.
    ~Stephen Covey

    A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers consequences.
    Proverbs 27:12

    You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.
    Sidney A. Friedman

    Vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. The next day comes and the next day goes. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan. . .about when where, and how.
    ~Carol Dweck

    In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.
    ~Robert Heinlein

    The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.
    ~Ben Stein

    Pull the trigger–take action:

    An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.
    ~Henry Ford

    The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
    ~Walt Disney

    A thousand mile journey begins with one step. Start today.

    We accomplish in proportion to what we attempt. Have a go!

    The only true failure lies in the failure to start.
    ~Harold Blake Walker

    There is always a step small enough from where we are to get us to where we want to be. If we take that small step, there’s always another we can take, and eventually a goal thought to be too far to reach becomes achievable. ~Ellen Langer

    Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

    There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
    ~Maya Angelou

    We should not be taught to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
    ~Frank Tibolt

    A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.
    ~Baltasar Gracian

    Many people have a good aim in life, but for some reason they never pull the trigger.

    It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
    ~Leonardo da Vinci

    Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must also step up the stairs.
    ~Vaclac Havel

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

    As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
    ~Andrew Carnegie

    Action will destroy your procrastination.
    ~Og Mandino

    Keep going:

    Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
    Thomas Edison

    It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
    ~Albert Einstein

    No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.

    Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.
    ~Dale Carnegie

    History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heart-breaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.
    ~B.C. Forbes

    Check how things are turning out and correct mistakes:

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
    ~Winston Churchill

    Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away and move on to something that’s more productive.
    ~Donald Trump

    What can I learn from this setback? What will I do next time?
    Carol Dweck

    If you ask people to do things and they usually don’t get around to them, stop asking yourself, “What’s the matter with people these days?” Instead, ask yourself, “What’s the matter with me? What am I doing ( or failing to do) that causes  people to give me empty promises?”
    ~Edwin Bliss

    Finish what you start:

    Once you start something, finish it. Don’t accumulate a backlog of unfinished projects.
    ~Edwin Bliss

    One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.
    ~Malcolm S. Forbes

    Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
    ~William James

    We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt.

    Getting it done is my reward.
    Benjamin Franklin

    The reward of a thing done well is to have done it.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    It is astonishing how long it takes to finish something you are not working on.

    It’s not important who starts the game but who finishes it.
    ~John Wooden

    The world is cluttered up with unfinished business in the form of projects that might have been successful, if only at the tide point someone’s patience had turned to active impatience.
    ~Robert Updegraff

    De-clutter your life:

    If in doubt, throw it out.

    A place for everything, and everything in its place.


    A few fat files are better than a lot of thin ones.

    ~Edwin Bliss

    Less, but better.
    ~Dieter Rams

    Control regret and worry

    Never let yesterday use up today.
    ~Richard H. Nelson

    Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could … Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    No worry before its time.
    ~Ellen Langer

    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So. . .sail away from the safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover.
    ~Mark Twain

    Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.
    ~Sherman Finesilver

    What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.
    ~Tim Ferriss

    Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Use tools and other people to help you:

    No matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes.
    Steven Levitt

    The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.

    I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow.
    ~Woodrow Wilson

    Spend your time wisely:

    If you are too busy to exercise, you are too busy.
    ~Edwin Bliss

    It is more important to do the right thing than to do things right.
    ~Peter Drucker

    It’s better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing quickly.
    ~Peter Turla

    Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.
    ~Steve Jobs

    The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
    ~William James

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.
    ~W. C. Fields

    If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: “meetings.”
    ~Dave Barry

    Take charge of your time:

    Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
    ~Parkinson’s Law

    You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
    ~Charles Bruxton

    Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
    ~H. Jackson Brown

    Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!
    ~Anthony Robbins

    Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.
    ~Charles Richards

    Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.

    Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.
    ~Thomas Huxley

    Money, I can only gain or lose. But time I can only lose. So, I must spend it carefully.

    Some time-management truisms:

    The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.
    ~Ben Stein

    Of all the time-saving techniques ever developed, perhaps the most effective is the frequent use of the word no.
    ~Edwin Bliss

    Nothing will work unless you do.
    ~John Wooden

    We all have times when we think more effectively, and times when we should not be thinking at all.
    ~Daniel Cohen

    It is surprising what a man can do when he has to, and how little most men will do when they don’t have to.
    ~ Walter Linn

    Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
    ~ Confucius