Tag Archives: timemanagement

It’s Monday. The best time management tool you have is the word “No”

I was reading this piece, Time Management Won’t Save You, and thinking about it a lot. Some of it I agreed with, other parts of it I thought dumb. However, I did do some thinking after I read this:

In all of these instances, the solution isn’t to become more efficient to accommodate more tasks, more decisions, and more distractions. The imperative is clear: simplify. Reduce the number of tasks you take on, replace decisions with principles, and put structure in place to eliminate distractions.

He is arguing that the goal is simplifying. I agree. But I would be more assertive: if you have too much to do, the goal is to say “no”. You have to say “no” to many things in order to say “yes” to the things that matter. Saying “no” gives you more time to do the things you need to do.

You might find saying “no” hard, but you are doing it all the time. If you choose one task to work on over another, you are saying yes to one and no to the other. If you interview 5 people for a job, you have to say no to the others. It goes on and on.

Part of the reason we think saying “no” is hard is because it implies a judgment on what you said no to. For example, if I hire one person over 4 others, it doesn’t mean the people I don’t hire are bad. It means the person I hired is the best fit for this particular job. If I buy a medium size shirt, it doesn’t mean the large shirt and the small shirt are bad: it means the medium fit best. That’s all.

Likewise sometimes we say “no” when we really mean “not now”. For example, I love chocolate cake, but I might say “no” to it because I am full. I still love the cake, it just isn’t the right time for it.

Indeed, if you find say “no” hard, try “not right now” or  “not this week ” or “not until my next review period”.

Saying “no” is like weeding your garden. Weeds aren’t bad: some are beautiful. But your focus is on what you are trying to grow. That’s all you are saying with the weeding you do. Likewise, that is all you are doing when you are saying “no”. You are maintaining your focus in order to have the best outcome.

Go through all the things taking up your focus. Dump most of them into your “no/not now” list. Enjoy the time you now have to do the things that matter most.

(Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash )


An important flow chart you need to keep in mind this week

The twitter account lizandmollie (@lizandmollie) tweeted this last week and I think we all need to read it

Only do important stuff that may be urgent.

Original tweet: @lizandmollie


The Twenty Minute Rule you need to manage your time


A smart approach to managing your time is allocating no more than 20 minutes to any task you need to do.  So says this: Everything should take 20 minutes | The Outline. 

The reasoning in a nutshell:

Think about a task you wish to or must complete, and imagine how long it should take you. If you are a right-thinking person like myself, the answer is “20 minutes.” A 10-minute task is hardly a task at all, more of a minor interruption, and anything that takes 30 minutes invites the thought that you could have watched a half-hour episode of television instead. Twenty minutes is, objectively, the ideal amount of time — the Goldilocks number when it comes to doing things.

Now you can quibble about it, but it’s a smart rule. If you are still unsure, read the piece.

Thinking and thinking better about scarcity (time, money, love, etc.)

We all suffer from scarcity. If you are poor, this is a given. But there are other types of scarcity too, including scarcity of time and even scarcity of affection. Regardless of the form it comes in, it affects you in ways you might not expect and prevents you from making the better choices. This book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, explorers scarcity from all these angles, and it made me realize the effect scarcity has on me. People think they can rationalize in the face of scarcity, but as the authors argue, it is much harder to do than we think. I highly recommend it. (It comes across as a book in the business book genre, but it is much better than that.)

Part of the problem resulting from dealing with scarcity is that we adopt a scarcity mindset. I do that sometimes, either by choice or out of ignorance. (e.g. “You mean I have many choices? I thought I had only one choice?” If you ask yourself questions like that, you may have a scarcity mindset.) It would help if there were ways to dealing with this.

One way of dealing with it is in this article: From the Scarcity Mindset to the Abundance Mindset at The Simple Dollar. It gives you some ways to avoid the scarcity mindset and move towards a mindset of abundance. Try the article: you’ll be surprised, I believe, just how often you assume a mindset of scarcity. You will also have to work at having a mindset of abundance, but it is worth the effort.

Finally, I don’t mean to trivialize people’s real needs and lack of resources they have to fill them. I do think we often make matters worse because of the way we think about what we have and what we could have. This book and this article can help with this.

You can get the book from book sellers like indigo.ca.