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Time management or time mastery?

Time management or time mastery?

Time management is basically just a list. You make a list of things to do, you prioritize them and then you work through them. However, this doesn’t solve the problem of having too much to do and not enough time to do it.

You need to move beyond terms of time management and start looking at it in terms of time mastery. But what does that mean?

Time mastery and goal setting are closely related. Once you have clearly articulated goals that you are working towards, you know how to spend you time; working towards your goals.

Tim Ferriss, the author of the 4 hour work week, looked at it in terms of efficiency versus effectiveness. Efficiency is getting things on the list done as quickly as possible. However, effectiveness is looking at the list and asking if something needs to be on the list in the first place.

Or, put another way, it’s like the difference between management and leadership. Managers, when asked to clear a path in  jungle are very efficient at clearing the path. Leaders on the other hand, first climb a tree to look over the top of jungle canopy to make sure they are in the right jungle.

So before you do anything, every task that goes on your list should align with your goals. Then, once you have a list of tasks to do, start looking at the list and ask yourself, “Do this task really need to get done?” Often, the answer is no.

The 80/20 rule is a simple rule that goes something like this. Eighty percent of your results are achieved by 20% of your effort.  Sometimes that ratio is even more acute.  For example, you can be 95% proficient in learning Spanish by learning 500 words. Since Spanish has 100,000 words that is 2.5% of  the language.

So to move beyond time management, where you are still rushing to complete a never ending list of tasks, start thinking in terms of time mastery, where you simply trim the task list.

Tim Ferriss calls this elimination. For example, apparently 30% of the average workers day these days is taken up by email. So you might want to look at ways of ignoring your email.

Similarly, when I put suggestions forward on how to get fit in a quarter of the time most people think they need to train all aspects of fitness, you are eliminating the unnecessary.

Miyamoto Musashi, the author of “a book of 5 rings” said, “Do nothing that is of no use”.

When you look at what you do and put it under the microscope, you are looking at what you do and the way you do it and ask, “is that of use?”. If it is truly not of use – e.g. it doesn’t get you to your goals in the most effective way possible it is discarded.

Image Source: NasimAhmed96$ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

About The Author


A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

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