Time Management has always been one of the most valuable and powerful skills a successful person possesses.
Many people think that simply being able to arrive punctually can qualify them to have time management skills. Unfortunately, that is not true.
Time management is a specialized skill that is honed after multiple weeks or months of managing one’s time. It is neither simple nor natural for everyone. It often involves the identification of more important tasks and prioritizing which task to tackle first.
Someone who has mastered time management could be one of the following:
a) A professional athlete who has participated in national competitions while studying in medical school
b) A student who aced her A level examination while being the president of a volunteer organization
c) A gamer who is able to schedule his time well a few weeks before his gaming competition
It doesn’t really matter what was achieved. Instead, the more important factor is how time is used wisely and efficiently.
Insane Work Hours
Time management is truly a skill that successful people use to constantly complete tasks at a breathtaking pace while giving their 100% for every task.
Take Elon Musk, for example. He is a billionaire and is famously known for being the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla.
Elon Musk works extremely hard. He is someone who works 100 hours a week managing 2 hugely successful companies. Being so obsessed with time management, he once said that he wished he did not have to eat so that he could have more time to do other more important tasks.
As someone who works so much, Elon Musk still manages to spend time pursuing 3 side hustles while daydreaming about Mars and hanging out with his family. According to interviews in Ashlee Vance’s book on Elon Musk, Musk spends up to four days each week with his five children and exercises regularly two times a week.
So how does Elon Musk even manage to juggle so many things while working 100 hours a week?
Elon Musk uses a method called time blocking, which has been used by other CEOs and productivity experts including Bill Gates and Cal Newport.
From the second Elon Musk wakes up, his day has already been pre-planned in five-minute ‘time blocks’. Each time block has been assigned a specific task and there’s no room for random interruptions. This is such that every part of his day, from waking up to sleeping is fully scheduled out.
The tasks assigned to each block could be to read an article, reply emails or even a 5 mins break.
Time management expert, Kevin Kruse, also suggests through his research shown within his book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, that top performers organize their day through time blocks instead of to-do lists.
For parent, decor blogger, and senior marketing manager Carolyn Sasaki Garris, every activity and chore has its place. In order to get everything done, she creates a solid routine planned around her 8 AM to 5:30 PM workday. “I do social media and link-ups in the mornings, tackle my inbox in the evenings, and do projects on the weekends,” she says. Scheduling out every hour of your day might feel over the top, but when everything has its place in the schedule, everything (usually) ends up getting done.
Although this method seems to be working wonders for the successful people, it has its fair share of downsides. Planning out every minute of your day can be time-consuming and stressful. There is a constant need to complete a particular task by a certain timing and no unnecessary rests are allowed. Moreover, the tedious planning involved can be a pain.
However, as stressful as it seems, the stress forces you to focus on the task and complete it punctually.
How To Use The Time Blocking Method?
The whole time blocking method revolves around the idea of assigning every time block you have to an assignment or a task, be it eating, gaming or studying.
To go forward with this method, follow these 3 simple and easy steps below:
1. Write out everything you need to do for the day. This includes what subjects to study, specifically what topics you will be covering and even something as routine as eating.
2. Then, beside each task, give your best estimation of how long completing that task would take. (Remember to add some buffer time to ensure each task does not take more than planned and there is no overlap of each task) Refer to photo 1 for reference.
3. After which, proceed to construct your very own timetable. To do this, write down all the tasks accordingly, starting from the first task (after you wake up and wash up) till your last task (before you wash up and go to sleep). It is recommended to draw a bigger box for a task that takes longer so that it is clearer for you. Refer to photo 2 for reference.
Isn’t that simple?
Just be reminded that you need to allocate 10-20 minutes every night to complete this timetable. This is so that once you wake up the next day, you can start off the day immediately!
There are a lot of ways to go about carrying out this time blocking method. Here is another way that I have used.
From the picture below (this was my timetable for my ‘A’ Levels), it can be seen that I did not create boxes for each task that I will be completing. However, I did create boxes for each time of the day – Morning, Afternoon, Night and for each day for 2 weeks.
After filling up with the tasks to be done for the day, it will look something like Timetable 1B.
So let me explain the timetable to you.
On that day, I set my alarm to wake up at 7.15 am. I will be spending 15 mins to wash up before proceeding on to complete a Physics paper 3 in 2 hours. Afterwhich, I will be having a break for 15 mins. Next, I proceed on to memorize essay examples for ‘Politics and Governance’ for 1 hour. For the last task before my lunch, I will be marking and doing corrections for a paper in 1 hour 15 mins. By now, it will be 12 pm and I am sure you would have roughly figured out how I planned my timetable.
Seize the day
“Lost time is never found again.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Time is so precious that everyone is chasing after it. There is only 24 hours on any given day and 6-8 hours of it is already used for sleeping.
In the end, you are only left with 16-18 hours, with a plethora of things to do like eating, washing up, traveling that slowly and surreptitiously nib away that time you have left. Before you know it, it is night time and you have to go to bed. No one wants a situation like that to happen to them.
As such, time blocking is the perfect method for you to keep a close eye on how your time is spent so that you can spend it meaningfully and productively.
The difference between those who get a lot done, like Elon Musk, versus those who don’t isn’t because of talent or that they are ‘special’ — it’s a combination of a mindset that values time and an effective time management method like time blocking.
If you want to get a lot done like Elon Musk, get your timetable created immediately, commit yourself to complete all the tasks assigned in your timetable and take action by completing your first task of the day!