Time Management

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Woodpile In Scottish Forest

The first time I heard ‘work smarter, not harder’ I was like ‘yeah – sign me up.’  The second time I heard it I was like ‘yeah, that is going to be harder than it sounds’.  After struggling for some time to apply that which is the ambiguity of the instruction ‘work smarter, not harder’ I came across a simple way to apply it each day.

Have you heard the idea that if you take fifteen minutes to plan out your day you will gain it back ten times in productivity?  Me either, but after doing it for several months I am convinced it is true and man – does it feel good to prioritize and knock things out.  To accomplish this Dave Ramsey suggests spending 15 minutes each day before we start work listing and categorizing our tasks into one of the following three categories:

  • A – Must be done today
  • B – Should be done soon, but today would be nice
  • C – Everything else

Once we have our items into one of these three categories number them by order of importance.  Put a 1 next to the most important ‘A’ item and a 2 next to the next most important ‘A’ item and so on.

I like this.  It hits one of the larger ideas from Getting Things Done by David Allen which is getting to do items out of our head and on to a list so they do not take up space – brain space.  I have found this to be very calming.  I use a google doc so I can always have access to it, which I find handy.  I love the feeling I get when I strike something out.  (actually I turn it blue)  I know I have had a good day if all my ‘A’ tasks get done.  I also have different headings – work, personal, etc.  I tie my daily tasks in to my goals by reviewing my goals before creating my list each day, which has been a helpful way to have day-to-day focus that leads to where I want to be long-term.  If things pop up during the day that can not wait until tomorrow I have a section creatively named ‘items for tomorrow’.  I categorize them the next day – genius, should I slow down?  When things pop up that seem urgent I ask myself ‘are they more important than my ‘A1’ item?’ or whichever item is up next, this helps me focus on what is important.

A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.


Any other time management tips or systems?  What’s your favorite book on time management?  As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned would be the coolest but anything is cool.