Thrive Men's Coaching

Time is life; it is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life. “Alan Lakein”


We all have 24 hours in a day. 

How we spend those hours determines the outcomes of our lives. 

When it comes to productivity and time management, most of the information I found online was about maximizing time by multitasking (or not multitasking), identifying when you’re most productive, delegating, batching, taking 15-minute breaks and so on.

These tricks get lots of views on youtube, but how much do they really help people manage their time? 

I’d argue not very much.

So I dove deeper and found an old-school book called “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life.”

It is short, to the point and published in 1973. I think it’s a hidden gem.

After reading this book, I believe I know everything I need to (or want to) know about time management, productivity, and procrastination.

I’ve condensed my learning so you can take control of your time without feeling overwhelmed.

And so you can spend time on the things that matter most to you. 

Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

An efficient person can complete a task without wasting time and effort (This is what most people focus on.)

An effective person completes the most important tasks (This is what really matters.)

Choosing what to spend your time on is the most important decision you can make. 

To become effective, you must first find out what truly matters to you.

Three questions to ask yourself before planning your day are:

  1. What are your lifetime goals?
  2. How would you like to spend the next three years?
  3. If you knew today you would get struck by lightning in six months, how would you live until then?

Having the answers to these three questions visible while planning your day is crucial.

Writing an Effective To-Do List

As Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 

Properly writing a to-do list is the key to preparing your day and ensuring that nothing goes undone.

Just like a grocery list, you don’t need one to go grocery shopping, but having it with you gives you the confidence that you won’t forget anything.

A to-do list declutters the mind, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

However, a successful to-do list should be more than just a random assortment of tasks. 

To be effective, you must rank the items on your list. 

The A’s should represent the most important things that must be done that day, followed by the B’s, which are slightly less important, and then the C’s.

It’s essential to recognize that most often, the B’s and C’s are tasks that don’t need to be done at all. 

Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of the value comes from completing 20% of the items on the list. 

There is no use in trying to complete everything on your to-do list once you embrace the 80/20 rule. Thus giving you more freedom throughout the day.

Taking control starts with planning. 

Having a clear list of priorities relieves the stress of trying to accomplish tasks for the sake of accomplishing them.

The Art of Scheduling

Scheduling is the key to making time for the things you value the most.

Most productive outcomes come from having a plan. Even something as simple as having coffee with a friend cannot be accomplished without a plan.

For this, Integrate horizontal time blocks into your week. 

Horizontal time blocks make it easier to stay consistent. 

Over time these scheduled tasks will become habits and will no longer require planning.

To further optimize your time, complete the absolute musts early in the day. 

By tackling the important tasks first, you’ll feel less frazzled when interruptions and unexpected events occur throughout the day. 

Embrace the mindset of being effective at doing challenging yet rewarding tasks early on, enabling you to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination is essentially the opposite of enduring short-term pain for long-term gain, yet many of us have been conditioned to procrastinate.

Consider the office worker who is told to sit at their desk all day, regardless of whether their work is completed or not.

Procrastination stems from the fact that most “A” tasks are inherently challenging and cannot be performed perfectly right away. 

“A” tasks tend to be more complex and require more time and effort to complete efficiently. 

Remembering that “A” tasks should not be expected to be done flawlessly on the first attempt is necessary. 

We often find ourselves getting caught up in completing easier “C” tasks, such as cleaning our desks, browsing for new products online, or reorganizing our to-do lists.

These more straightforward tasks feel more manageable and allow us to avoid confronting the more daunting A tasks.

Getting started on an “A1” task takes just five minutes.

By taking that initial step, we give ourselves permission to continue and make progress. 

More often than not, we discover that the task isn’t as unpleasant or difficult as we had imagined once we overcome the resistance to begin. 

Instead of telling ourselves we’ll start a task tomorrow, we should remind ourselves that we have five minutes to start it now.

We strip it of much of its resistance and stress by initiating the task immediately.

We all face important tasks that we simply don’t want to do.

To combat procrastination, we must learn to slow down and resist the temptation to switch to another task. 

The more we procrastinate on a task, the more it builds up and negatively affects our emotions. 

The secret lies in taking action now and enjoying the satisfaction of completing it. Ask yourself throughout the day, “What is the best use of my time right now?”

In summary, to master your time

  1. Focus on being effective rather than worrying about efficiency. 
  2. Write a to-do list that is ranked and prioritize the top 2-3 tasks using the 80/20 rule.
  3. Schedule horizontal time blocks throughout the week to create consistent habits. 
  4. Avoid procrastination by taking small steps and starting tasks immediately, enjoying the fact that you’ve made progress. 

By implementing these strategies, you’ll take control of your time and ultimately master your life.

It’s been a pleasure.

– Justin

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