This Book is For:

*Business owners who always seem to have more ideas than time available to implement them, and who are open to hearing about some rather extreme time management practices that might just change everything.

*People who feel completely overwhelmed by how much there is to do, how much the modern world expects of them, and how hard it is to make positive, lasting changes in their lives.

*High-performers and super-achievers who want to gain a competitive edge against a global system designed and optimized for stealing their attention and focus away from what will really make a difference in their lives and businesses.

*Anyone who is relentlessly bombarded by demands on their extremely limited time and attention and who are ready to protect their infinitely valuable time with the kind of bulletproof time management measures that are worthy of that value.


“The multiple demands on an entrepreneur’s time are extraordinary. I am here to tell you that you need to take extraordinary measures to match those demands. Measures so radical and extreme that others may question your sanity.

This is no ordinary time management book for the deskbound or the person doing just one job.

This book is expressly for the wearer of many hats, the inventive, opportunistic entrepreneur who can’t resist piling more and more responsibility onto his own shoulders, who has many more great ideas than time and resources to take advantage of them, and who runs (not walks) through each day. I’m you, and this is our book.”

-Dan S. Kennedy

This book could add years to your life, and that's not an exaggeration in the slightest. It'll certainly save you thousands of hours worth of the most precious natural resource in this universe: time.

Dan Kennedy is the multimillionaire author of an entire series of books for entrepreneurs, but this one can and probably should be read by just about everyone, if for no other reason than that Dan's one of the very few people I've encountered who truly and honestly - viscerally understands the true value of time.

He understands its supreme importance, its utter irreplaceability, and also, in the case of entrepreneurship, how to turn time into wealth. That's what this book is about. It's about more than "just" money though.

Dan's is a radical, obsessive approach to time management that may be your best defense against the relentless onslaughts of what he calls "Time Vampires" and the relentless demands on your time, focus, and attention that come with living in the modern world.

Simply put, he's a phenomenon. For starters, the guy almost exclusively communicates with his business clients via fax. This is because he found that way more thought tends to go into a fax, as opposed to when you hand over your email address and anyone can bother you at any time with the smallest thing that popped into their head. But he's even more extreme than that.

I mean, fax machine...that's pretty extreme, and there are people who misunderstand the true purpose of forcing people to communicate with him that way. But he also surrounds himself with intense, visual reminders of the relentless passing of time, such as the hangman's noose he has facing him at his desk. Not. Subtle.

For out-of-town clients, he also never travels to them, and to eliminate this risk demands that they pay for a private jet(!) if they want him to come to them. Again, this is easy to denounce as "diva" behavior from a man playing power games because he can. But I stress again that this is not the point.

Faced with a choice of taking a cheaper flight to come and see him, or paying for Kennedy to fly private, they just end up coming to him, saving him who-knows-how-many hours of travel. Time he could more profitably put into his business, his writing, and his life. It's all strategy.

So yes, for all those reasons and more, Dan's book represents a fanatical, obsessive, positively...extreme approach to time management. It's written expressly for entrepreneurs and business owners who are constantly balancing competing priorities, responsibilities, and dwindling resources, and it's full of ruthlessly effective time management strategies that could change everything for people like you and I.

If you have more ideas than time, you'll find exactly what you're looking for in this book. Still, I would encourage you to look beyond his specific implementation and find what will work for you. He's not suggesting that everyone demand to be flown around in private jets and only use fax machines; he's just trying to get you to realize that your time has to be protected at all costs against its thoughtless and/or malicious waste.

Another important point is that it's easier to see the value of being obsessively time-focused when you know what your time is actually worth. He shows you how to calculate the value of your time and use that number to help you decide what's worth pursuing in your business and your life in general.

The supreme importance of remaining hyper-conscious of the passing of time is also stressed in this book. Too many people seem to be okay with trading their lives for likes on social media, wasting infinitely valuable hours on apps whose very business model depends on getting you addicted. Like a casino! More on that in Key Idea #1.

All told, this is definitely a book you may want to keep close by as you start taking back your calendar, dodging pointless meetings, and driving stakes into the hearts of Time Vampires. I came away with 15 full pages of notes, and Dan's strategies and outlook made a profound difference in how I live my life and how I spend my time - which is pretty much the same thing.

Key Ideas:

#1: Hyper-Consciousness of Time

“There’s a reason why you can’t find a wall clock in a casino to save your life - those folks stealing your money do not want you to be aware of the passing of time.

And that tells you something useful right there: you want to be very aware, all the time, of the passing of time. It is to your advantage to be very conscious of the passage and usage of minutes and hours.”

The best way to start managing your time is to measure how you're spending it now, but the modern world does not make this easy for any of us.

But what's easy shouldn't determine what we do. These are our lives we're talking about here, and I see too many people who are living as though they're guaranteed more than one of them.

The reality is that most of us have a better idea of where our money's going than where our time is going.

Now, I will never try to claim that money isn't important - of course it is. But you can almost always make more money, whereas you can only sometimes regain your health. And your time? Your time is constantly slipping away from you, never to return, and your attention - your awareness in this present moment - by definition, is always gone the very next moment.

We'll fritter away hours - days, even - on the most inconsequential nonsense, but then carefully look over our receipts to make sure we haven't been overcharged for anything we've spent money on. Our priorities are backwards, and that's why we need to balance our perspectives sometimes with the worldviews of people like Dan Kennedy who just...get it:

“I believe you need to be hyper-conscious of the disappearance of time by the minute or the hour - not in retrospect at the end of a week, month, or year - and hyper-conscious of the dollar value of what that time is disappearing into.”

You cannot be too eccentric about this. I don't think it's possible to be "too fanatical" about getting the absolute highest value out of your time as you possibly can. These. Are. Our. Lives. Kennedy and I will do whatever it takes to protect ours, and we don't waste too much time wondering what other people might think about our time management philosophies.

You don't have to go to such extreme lengths as only communicating by fax, etc. - indeed, many people are required to remain connected to their workplace in some way at least when they're getting paid. But your time and how profitably it is invested is literally Life and Death, and so what if people think you're nuts for taking this "time management" thing so seriously?

They're wasting their lives and you're not.

They will have nothing to show for it and you will.

Now, obviously, don't stress yourself silly about optimizing every single moment and manage yourself into an early grave, but at the very least you should be aware that that grave is wide open before you and that it's one appointment you will eventually have to keep. Memento mori. Remember you must die. Be conscious of time. And maybe steal a tactic or two from Dan:

“In my workplace, conference room, and office (in my home), there are dozens of clocks, including one that talks every hour, and I can’t turn around anywhere in a circle without seeing one, nor can a visiting client. Facing me at my desk there is also a hangman’s noose. Not subtle.”

#2: The First Step Toward Managing Your Time

“Just as the person who cannot tell you where his money goes is forever destined to be poor, the person who cannot tell you where his time goes is forever destined to be unproductive - and, often, poor.”

This is an expansion of the last Key Idea, and the first thing to do once you've made yourself painfully aware of the constant passing of time is to determine where exactly yours is going.

And I do mean painfully. I've found that one of the best motivators to get myself to never waste time ever again is to get angry that I've wasted so much time thus far. It all goes back to hyper-consciousness of the fact that you are losing. You are losing your life every hour, every moment, and yet how many people are more concerned when they realize they're losing their money than when they reflect on how much time they've wasted?

I know I'm repeating myself a bit here, between this and the last Key Idea, but the idea merits constant, ongoing repetition. It's just too easy to let your time slip away unknowingly.

It's possible to take this stance too far, as I've said. There's a point at which beating yourself up for past waste is counterproductive and you end up sacrificing the quality of this present moment with overactive regrets. But most people don't take this far enough. The vast majority of people can much more easily tell you where their money is going than their time, and this is exactly backward.

What Dan and I suggest is scripting out your day in advance - exactly like a movie - and accepting zero rewrites! Don't let anyone or anything mess with your script! Here's Dan in his own words:

“Ideally, you should schedule your day by the half-hour from beginning to end. I now use the term ‘script’ in place of ‘schedule.’ Many days, every minute is accounted for in advance and outcomes are pre-ordained.

If you do project work as I do, it’s important to estimate the minutes or hours required and work against the clock and against deadlines.

Every task gets completed faster and more efficiently when you have determined in advance how long it should take and set a time for its completion. This, too, minimizes unplanned activity.”

Minimize. Unplanned. Activity! That's beautiful. In just a basic, professional sense, this will put you so much further ahead of your entire competition. Remember: your competition is almost entirely made up of people who have no idea where their time is sinking into and don't really care.

Account for every minute. Script out exactly how long each task is likely to take and work against a series of self-imposed deadlines each and every day. John Wooden used to do the same thing when planning his basketball practices and he was one of the winningest coaches in NCAA basketball history.

This is no coincidence. You can even turn it into a kind of game where you time how long it takes you to complete various tasks and then try to beat it. I do this myself and have found it to be extremely helpful.

Ideally, you should script (or even "choreograph") your day as if you are the star of the show - because you are. This is your Perfect Day, scripted by you, and you are the director. If it's not in the script, it's a distraction!

If you're worried that this will be too stifling and that saving time for unplanned adventure is important, there are two things that you may wish to consider.

The first is that discipline creates freedom. By disciplining yourself to do what needs to be done, when it needs to get done, you give yourself the freedom to enjoy other, even greater experiences. Dieting gives you the freedom to have a fantastic body and excellent health. Working hard on growing a business gives you the freedom to pay for your child's education, etc.

Second, as funny as it sounds, you can "plan" unplanned adventure. Simply carve out portions of your day or week where you don't schedule anything and just see where the day takes you. All it means is that you are choosing to relinquish control over how that portion of your day or week turns out, and there's nothing wrong with that if you're aware of it ahead of time. It's when you have no idea where your time is going that's the problem.

Laying out your schedule ahead of time is also an acknowledgement that none of your greatest priorities are just going to "automagically" make it into your schedule. An intentional life is the only way you get to live a meaningful one.

A useful exercise is to place the "big rocks" into your schedule first - your most important or meaningful tasks - and then schedule the smaller rocks around them, filling in the rest of the time with "sand," or those things that aren't important at all or time where you're actively choosing not to plan.

This exercise will probably scare you and shock you into realizing how little time we actually have for what's most important to us. 168 hours just isn't that much time, and if you lose an hour on Monday, you'll be chasing it all week. Next thing you know, your script keeps getting rewritten, your "movie" goes over budget, and your life is a flop at the box office.

#3: A Formula for Peak Personal Productivity

“This tells you a lot about what you must do in order to achieve maximum success, derive maximum value from your time, and lead the happiest possible life: you must systematically, aggressively divest yourself of those activities you do not do well and do not do happily, or you must find routine, so as to systematically invest your time (and talent, knowledge, know-how, and other resources) in those things you do extraordinarily well, enjoy doing, and find intellectually stimulating.

I have just described for you a formula for peak personal productivity, as a specialist. And you ought to note that, in every field of enterprise, specialists out-earn generalists ten to one.”

The last part of the above quote refers to the fact that in the professional world, doing work that only you can do results in getting paid more for your contribution.

Doctors earn more than hospital janitorial staff (though especially in that scenario, both jobs are incredibly important), and even though doctors could scrub down the OR and prep all the equipment, etc., they don't, because that's not their core competency.

Doctors are specialists, and they command higher salaries when they restrict themselves to doing doctor stuff - not answering their own phones, scheduling surgeries, delivering medications, etc.

No matter what your profession, you can take the same approach if you want to earn more. You must do as Kennedy says above, and systematically, aggressively divest yourself of everything else that's not what you do best and that earns you the most money. To the greatest extent possible, work only on those things that get you paid, and this will translate into earning the highest salary possible.

There are many ways to begin doing this, of course, and most of them fit into the categories of elimination, automation, and delegation - in that order.

First, eliminate everything that doesn't need to be done at all. Why are you even doing these things? There's no greater waste of time than doing well what need not be done at all.

Second, automate your processes as much as possible to reduce the amount of time spent working on those things you must do yourself. In my case, I use AI to help edit my YouTube videos, I utilize various integrations to run other aspects of my business, add people to my email lists, etc. It may take some additional work upfront to set up these automations, but the amount of time they will save you in the long run will make it all worth it.

Third, you have to learn to delegate. Entire books have been written on the subject, but suffice it to say that you can get a lot more done when you relinquish at least some control over how it gets done. As one of my unofficial mentors says, "80% done by someone else is 100% freaking awesome."

#4: Know What Your Time is REALLY Worth

“If you do not have a base income target, then you cannot calculate what your time must be worth, which means you cannot make good decisions about the investment of your time, which means you are not exercising any real control over your business or life at all. You are a wandering generality. Is that what you want to do - just wander around and settle for whatever you get?”

Picking up from where we left off in the last Key Idea, once you know what your time is really worth, you'll be able to calculate exactly how much you can afford to pay someone else to remove tasks from your to-do list and free up time and mental bandwidth for those things that you alone can do.

In the book, Buy Back Your Time, mega-successful software entrepreneur Dan Martell shows you how to calculate your effective hourly rate, and suggests outsourcing or delegating any task that will cost 1/4 or less of that number to hand over to someone else who can perform it at least 80% as well as you can.

The best part is that this nets you a 4x ROI on your investment and improves your quality of life at the same time.

Now, at first, he gives an example of an entrepreneur making $200,000 per year from her business, whose effective hourly rate is $100 per hour. That's obviously more than most people earn, but the example is instructive. $200,000 divided by approximately 2,000 work hours per year gives her that effective hourly rate of $100.

Thus, by Dan's calculations (Martell's, not Kennedy's haha), the smartest move for her would be to outsource anything that someone else can do for $25 per hour or less. Video editing, design work, administrative tasks - opportunities for buying back your time abound.

Even people earning closer to $50,000 per year can take advantage of this, although they'd be looking for people who can perform rote tasks for $6.25 an hour or less. There are still plenty of opportunities in this range, especially when you consider hiring people based solely on commission, hiring interns, and outsourcing to freelancers on sites like Upwork.

It all comes back to what's more important to you. Instead of buying a new car and standing in line for the latest iPhone, maybe you buy a used car that's a few years older (hardly anyone will be able to tell), and instead use all that money you're saving to buy back your time...and your sanity.

Not only that, but with the added effectiveness you can now bring to your own core competencies - and by adding potentially dozens of hours of other people's time to your own productivity - you can grow your business to such an extent that you will be able to increase your effective hourly rate and buy back even more of your time in a constant, upward, virtuous cycle.

Here's Dan Kennedy again, with why your calculations don't have to be perfect. You just need to come up with a number and use it to help guide your decisions:

“I promise you that coming up with a number, even if it is arrived at through some pretty questionable calculations, is still a whole lot better than not having a number at all.

Having a number is going to make such a dramatic change in so many of the decisions you make, habits you cultivate, and people you associate with, that the benefits will be so extraordinary, it won’t matter if the original method of getting to a number had a technical flaw or two buried in it.

At least for the sake of our conversation, in this book, get a number - YOUR base earnings target for the next full calendar year. Divide it by the number of workday hours. Multiply it to allow for unproductive vs. productive hours. If you haven’t a better estimate of that, use the three times multiple I’ve used here.

Now you have what your time is supposed to be worth per hour and divided by 60 to see per minute.”

You'll notice that Dan Martell's and Dan Kennedy's ways of calculating their own "number" differ - and that's fine. It doesn't have to be some super-precise number that's mathematically perfect and looks beautiful on the chalkboard; you just need a number, or else you'll become, as Dan says, a wandering generality.

#5: Trading Your Life for Likes

“The principle of profit is exactly the same: addict you to frequent use so when you aren’t using, you’re thinking about using and building up need to use. It’s designed to take and consume as much of your time as possible away from everything else and everybody else.

They do not want you sitting on a park bench on a nice, sunny day feeding pigeons and calmly thinking; they want you so absorbed by them you forget where you’re thinking and aren’t in control of your own thoughts.

Just as casinos have no clocks, the cyber world is designed to erase the realities of time and harvest yours without you being fully aware of how much of it they are harvesting or how little you are getting in return.”

The casino analogy is apt. Similar dynamics are at work virtually everywhere in the modern world: there are people who benefit financially (to a massive extent) from you not knowing where your time is going.

Casinos, social media companies, streaming services, and more - their whole business model is based on keeping you unaware of how much time you're spending on them or in them, and how little you are actually getting out of the exchange compared to other things you could spend your time on instead.

They are stealing your life away, and most people are doing nothing to stop it. They're trading their lives away for likes on some app, and they seem to be perfectly fine with it. But hey, here's Dan, about to save your life with his calculator:

“Go back to the stat referenced earlier: people checking their social media every 30 minutes. In an 8-day workday, that’s 16 times. Over 240 workdays in a year, 4,480. If each check-in consumes only 3 minutes - and the average loss is much higher - that’s 13,440 minutes in a year. 224 hours.

Go back to Chapter 1, get the money number your hour has to be worth to hit your financial goals, multiply it by 224, and see how deep a hole you dig to somehow get out of before you can even start racking up dollars on the success scoreboard. What feels insignificant is far, far from it.”

#6: Institute a CLOSED DOOR Policy

“It is very important that you have a CLOSED Door Policy. You need some times when everybody knows - because of the closed door, red light, stuffed purple dragon in the hallway, whatever - that you are 100% uninterruptable. And if you want to sit in there and take a nap, you go right ahead. It’s none of their damned business.”

Remember: If they can't find you, they can't interrupt you!

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, and Dan can be very funny (the stuffed purple dragon haha), but his contrarian advice could also be worth a lot of money and meaning to you if properly implemented.

A closed-door policy is just one of those things that if you did implement it you'd find hours and hours almost magically finding their way back into your life.

It's also not selfish to do this, contrary to what some other people would have you believe. Being uninterruptible allows you to focus on delivering your highest contribution. Anybody who ever gets anything important done is like this, and:

“Here is one of the real, hidden secrets of people who consistently achieve peak productivity: make inviolate appointments with yourself.”

The act of scheduling something - even and perhaps especially an appointment with yourself - sends a subtle message to your subconscious that you are serious, this is important to you, and it will get done.

Combining your closed-door policy with single-tasking on your one greatest priority - your highest competency? That's a pretty unbeatable combination.

#7: It's Never "Just" Three Minutes

“If I were in my office or accessible by cell phone and took these 27 calls as they occurred, and each lasted an average of only 3 minutes - and lots of luck with that! - I would have let loose of 81 minutes; 1 hour and 21 minutes. But much more importantly, I would be interrupted 27 times.

The three minutes given each call would bear an added cost of ten, to get back in gear after each interruption. This equals SIX HOURS OF LOST TIME if you figure 13 minutes times 27 calls.

Further, some of those calls might actually be important but be handled half-assedly - if scheduled and dealt with as the priority of their assigned minutes instead of an irritating interruption, more might come from them.”

It will serve you well also to think about the opportunity cost of time, and also how work expands to fill the amount of time left aside for it (Parkinson's Law).

For one thing, if you don't have a defined end-point, or some specific length beyond which a phone call becomes too long for your liking and you hang up, there's no way that most people asking for "just three minutes" of your time will ever restrict themselves to just that. The length of those phone calls will expand indefinitely.

Parkinson's Law also applies to distractions. Each call might seem like something you can easily fit into your day, but few people take in the full picture and realize how much they're actually losing to all those unfocused calls and "do you have a minutes."

That doesn't even take into account the cognitive switching costs of pulling your attention away from your most important work, orienting yourself with respect to the business of whoever's calling, and then turning back and refocusing on your work. Your attention will bleed out the sides until its power is dissipated uselessly.

Furthermore, as we'll expand on in the next Key Idea, many of these phone calls might actually be important, but because we're not actually devoting our full attention to any of them, what might actually be accomplished is done haphazardly, if at all.

Virtually nobody is doing anything important to a high standard in just three minutes, so you have to stop killing yourself with a thousand cuts if you wish to step up the quality of your work and get the important stuff accomplished.

Not only that, but if you're rushing people off the phone just so you can get back to your "real work," they will notice. That's what we're going to discuss next.

#8: Pledging Your Full Attention

“I’ve never heard of anyone who has really tried this and come back to say ‘It didn’t work. I’ve gone back to giving everyone instant access to me at any time.’

In the end, my clients appreciate knowing that when I am working on their cases, I am only working on their cases, uninterrupted. I include this in all my marketing materials, and I can assure you, it attracts more good clients than it repels.”

-Ben Glass

Once you finally gain control over your time, your calendar, and your life, you can never really go back. You won't want to. The freedom just feels too good, and anyone who's ever broken free wonders how they were ever able to live any other way. This can be your future reality as well.

But circling back to Key Idea #7 (and building on the Ben Glass quote above), the people you deal with, both personally and professionally, can tell when you're distracted. They can tell when you're there, but not really there with them.

Gaining the freedom to give people your full attention thus has two very important benefits. One, the quality of your work will increase once your focus isn't scattered in several different directions at once. Your new, positive emotions of calm, clarity, and peace will add to this improved quality of work as well.

Second, you will begin to stand out in all areas of your life, as people compare being with you - being seen, heard, attended to - with how they're treated by others as they rush headlong through each day, never stopping to ever give them their complete, undivided attention. The difference is night and day, and all the positive associations will center on how they feel when they're with you.

There's also a third benefit, come to think of it. This decreased level of access (but increased level of attention once they're actually in communication with you) represents an extra layer of difficulty when it comes to getting in touch with you, which will only heighten the respect people have for your time and attention.

Compare that with how cheap your time will seem if you simply toss it around freely to anyone who wants it. People generally want what's difficult to get, which is why no one places a very high value on getting to speak to the wise man at the bottom of the mountain.

#9: An Environment with No Limits

“The defining trait of the great entrepreneur is his or her ability to creatively collaborate with other people, and, as Dan Kennedy puts it, co-opt other people’s resources.

Here are just some of the myriad of resources other people can provide you with: advertising, advice, access, association, back-end products, buying power, capital, connections, (borrowed or transferred) credibility, data, databases - other people’s customers, distribution channels and opportunities, ideas, knowledge, and the list goes on.

The best way to achieve extraordinary success is to leverage yourself and your assets off the assets of others. Each of us is limited - by time and by resources - but when you leverage others’ time and resources, you create an environment with no limits.”

-Jay Abraham

In Arnold Schwarzenegger's foreword to Tim Ferriss's book, Tools of Titans, his very first words are "I am not a self-made man."

It might come as a surprise to many people that he doesn't view himself that way, especially because of all that he's accomplished after coming over from Austria, winning all those bodybuilding championships, starring in movies, becoming governor of California, just on and on.

But when you take a closer look, he had help every step of the way. From his very earliest supporters helping him find his way in a new land, to the people who actually bought the movie tickets to pay the kind of salaries he was able to command during his time in Hollywood. Other people were involved at every step of the way, and this is true for all of us.

You don't have to spend any of your limited time sewing your own clothes or baking your own bread, because there are people in our society that do those types of things for us, while we make our own unique contribution, whatever that happens to be.

How this relates to time management is that you can leverage the time of others (and you should do this, as much as possible), in such a way that each person benefits from the relationship. There are people who love to do the things that you hate to do (they're likely also better at them, have better processes, etc.) and there are things you do extraordinarily well that others dread doing.

If you each tried to do everything yourself, you'd waste a tremendous amount of time and energy that could have been much better deployed in a spirit of mutual gain and assistance. These types of win-win relationships are hiding everywhere in life, and you do indeed begin to inhabit an environment with no limits once you start to effectively capitalize on them.

#10: Never Lose Sight of Your Objective

“When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp. And, having been up to my neck in alligator-filled swamp water more often than I like to remember, I know just how tough it is to keep at least one eye fixed firmly on your list of goals. But that’s EVERYTHING.”

One of the worst things about being interrupted all the time is that you lose sight of what matters most.

In Dan's words, you start by heading out to drain the swamp and end up wrestling alligators. Or, in a different way of saying the same thing, you keep diving into the raging waters to rescue all these drowning people, instead of heading upstream and figuring out who's throwing all these people into the river!

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

There are at least two important timescales on which we lose sight of the main objective: in our daily activities, and across our entire lifetime.

On a day-to-day level, we start off with a to-do list that already "spilleth over," and yet we can't help constantly adding to it, as other people pile on their priorities and problems - handing us alligators - while we try to keep our head above water.

Even worse, though, is when it happens on the level of an entire lifetime. We take this first job as a "stepping stone" to something greater and end up wasting away there for years, our original purpose for taking the job forgotten as we deal with new responsibilities, new challenges, and new, minor objectives. We end up majoring in minor things, as the saying goes.

Awareness is the key. Constant, unwavering focus on what we originally intended to accomplish, whether that's in terms of our daily schedule or career as a whole. This is what we need. This is how we pull ourselves back on course. We can never allow our focus to waver for even an hour, because it's not guaranteed ever to return.

Dan Kennedy takes the extreme route (as always) by surrounding himself with intense, visual reminders of the passing of time, and his own mortality. You don't have to go that far ( although it wouldn't be the worst idea), but you should remember that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. The best way not to waste the latter is never to waste the former.

The word priority means one - it was never meant to be pluralized. By definition, there can't be more than one priority, because that would defeat the whole purpose! So if you have more than one priority, you don't have any. Remember that, and you might just stand a chance.

Most of us have a nauseating amount of "stuff" to do each day, but we also have to remember that we're capable of getting a tremendous amount done when nothing else matters.

Book Notes:

“It’s a special kind of terrorism. The unrelenting, sometimes violent assault on your time, from all directions, every waking minute, even when you sleep! These desperate times demand extreme measures."

“It’s generally a bad idea to hire an advice-giver and then choose only the advice you like.”

“The passing of time has stiffened my resolve about safeguarding it, wisely investing it, enjoying it, and bringing wrath upon any who would steal it, waste it, or abuse it.”

“Nothing is worth more than this day.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“That which is not worth doing at all is not worth doing well.”

-Warren Buffett

“What is ‘entrepreneurship’ if not the conversion of your knowledge, talent, guts, etc. - through investments of your time - into money?”

“I have nothing against Starbucks. At different times, I’ve owned the company’s stock. If I’m at the mall, I might stop in for a cup. But the person who stops there every morning easily surrenders at least a half-hour every day, 110 hours per work year; about two full work weeks to parking and standing in line.

At the $340.92 number, $37,501.20 has been spent plus the price of the coffee! Get a Keurig and buy Starbucks K-cups, and do something more valuable with those two weeks! Heck, even take a two-week vacation. Almost anything beats this very expensive Starbucks habit.”

“The purpose of a business is to make its owner rich. Time must be invested accordingly.”

“If you don’t know what your time is worth, you can’t expect the world to know it either.”

“Every one of my working hours has to be worth a certain amount of money; I do everything I can to create and protect that value and anybody screwing that up had better watch out.”

“Deciding what you shouldn’t be doing - this moment, or at all - is at least as important as deciding what to invest your time in.”

“The more creative and adept you get at OPM, OPR, and OPC (other people’s money, resources, and customers), the less direct time and capital investment is required of you to grow your business.”

“I largely prevent this bad behavior by refusing to be personally connected to the internet, use email, own a cell phone, or text at all. My time fortress is free of these holes in its wall.”

“If you are going to hold a meeting, there are several stakes you can use to stop the vampires from making it an endless ‘blood klatch.’ (Time Vampires love meetings because a bunch of blood-rich victims gather in one place at one time. It’s like a buffet.) 

1. Set the meeting for immediately before lunch or at the end of the day so the vampires are eager to get it done and over with, turn into bats, and fly out of there.

2. Don’t serve refreshments.

3. Circulate a written agenda in advance.

4. Have and communicate a clear, achievable objective for the meeting.”

“Before you can win, you have to hate to lose.”

“Before a team can consistently win, its players must truly, deeply, viscerally, violently hate losing.”

-Howie Long

“If you want to coach, you have three rules to follow to win.

One, surround yourself with people who can’t live without winning - who hate losing.

Two, be able to recognize winners. Not just talent or ability. Anybody can identify that - a will to win.

Three, plan for everything. Have a plan for practice, a plan for the game, a plan for being behind 20 to 0 at the half with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead, with it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home.

Oh, and when that is over, fire the equipment man.”

-Paul Bryant

“Letting Time Vampires steal even a spoonful of your blood has to be looked at as losing, and you have to truly hate it before you can win at safeguarding and maximizing the gains and benefits from your time.”

“I have not mellowed at this. In fact, the older I get, and the less time I know I have before The End, the more I hate, and I mean hate, having my time wasted."

“These Time Vampires are evil. Often, they know full well what they are doing and that fact says they have disdain and disrespect for you. They are declared enemies. Thieves. If their bad behavior is thoughtless, the damage is the same, and their thoughtlessness is the evil.”

“You don’t have to be an impossible diva, but you do have to be okay with being thought of as one.”

“When you show up on time or before and the other person does not, you do have an upper hand.

What I learned is that an appointment is a contract, and when you are late you are in violation of the contract, and when you do that it shatters trust, destroys your credibility, and you have to ‘spin’ to get back on track.

On the other hand, when you are on time or slightly early, everyone is calm and there is an establishment of trust, respect, and peace that becomes an excellent environment to have a conversation.”

-Parthiv Shah

“We are able to get a lot done in a short period of time when nothing else matters.”

“An oath to peak productivity you swore. But mail, faxes, emails, texts, tweets, calls, and more, and a parade of people at the door at all hours, uncontrolled, in they pour! Your intentions, your agenda in tatters on the floor. In your pantry, but a meager store. Close the door!”

“I have seen no reason to expand the range of ways people can gain access to me - and plenty of reasons not to.”

“If they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.”

“For the first time ever, he’s taking an entire month of vacation, at a rented beach cottage several states away from his business. For the first time in 30 years, he’s really becoming a business owner instead of being owned by a business.”

“Let me offer a bit of philosophy: you have absolutely no legal, moral, or other responsibility to answer the phone or take a call unless you want to.”

“There’s nothing - and I mean nothing - happening on earth that can’t or won’t wait an hour. Or two.”

“If you take inbound calls as they come, you are constantly stopping work on a task of known priority in favor of something or someone of unknown priority. You are turning control of your day over to the unknown.”

“If the matter requires conversation with me, a phone appointment is set, for a specific number of minutes, with an end time, often with a delay of at least days to weeks before it occurs. Guess what? Occasionally, somebody’s irritated - which is their problem, not mine - but I have yet to notice this approach costing me any money.”

“In my business (and in many), being somewhat difficult to get to actually helps rather than hinders securing new clients and having those clients appreciate and respect my time and assistance. Rightly or wrongly, most folks don’t put a lot of value on getting to the wise man at the bottom of the mountain.”

“There should be a little glass room here and there, like the smokers are stuck in at airports, where everybody who has to yap into their phone can go and be wedged in and annoy each other, leaving those of us with our lives under control and some sense of civility in peace. The pay phone in a booth was a wonderfully civilized thing.”

“In my seminars, by the way, we assess a $100 fine any time a cell phone erupts and confiscate the offending phone for the duration.

Often, the offenders have paid $2,000 to $5,000 to be in the room. Many are also very good clients. I don’t care. I will not tolerate it. I warn everybody, I put some big, beefy bruiser in charge of collecting, and I take the money.

If you can’t have your life sufficiently in order to pay uninterrupted attention and be courteous to others, I’d prefer you stay home and annoy someone else.”

“And a word to business owners, salespeople, and my pathetically desperate and paranoid speaking colleagues who devoutly believe they must be instantly accessible at any and every moment to every client and prospective client to prevent that client from dialing the next number and doing business with whomever answers instantly: if you are that interchangeable, that mundane and ordinary a commodity, you’ve got big, big problems.”

“Every exception is a hole that weakens your entire defense system.”

“I’ve looked at the emails people get and compared them to the faxes I get. More thought goes into the faxes. People tend to cluster multiple items into one fax vs. a stream of single-item emails. They are more inclined to resolve some things themselves when they must put them into a memo to be faxed than when they can email. The email is more casual, and you really don’t want people feeling too casual about consuming your time.”

“Come to your own conclusions about it all - fax, email, text, and cell phone. But be the master - not the slave.”

“Getting and being rich is behavioral. You can’t seek the goal but opt for incongruent behavior different than that of those who achieve the goal any more than you can claim sobriety but still get drunk every once in a while.”

“I even have a clock that looks like just six sticks of dynamite wired together, with a timer on it, and the timer has a flashing red light. This gets a lot of attention plunked down in the center of the conference table. If you’re not going to do this physically, you at least want to do it verbally.”

“Be busy and be obvious about it.”

“You cannot accept and engage in any attitudes and behaviors of the mediocre and reasonably expect to be anything other than mediocre.”

“Being punctual gives you the right - the positioning - to expect and demand that others treat your time with utmost respect. You cannot reasonably hope to have others treat your time with respect if you show little or no respect for theirs.

So, if you are not punctual, you have no leverage, no moral authority. But the punctual person gains that advantage over staff, associates, vendors, clients, everybody.”

“Punctuality provides personal power.”

“People who can’t be punctual can’t be trusted.”

“One of my earliest business mentors said that there were only two good reasons for being late for a meeting with him: one, you’re dead; two, you want to be.”

“Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you virtually unstoppable.”

“Having and commanding the respect of others is a tremendous advantage in life. That edge comes from having self-discipline. Having a (preferably private) sense of superiority over others is another power-producing edge. That, too, comes from self-discipline.

The highly disciplined individual does not have to point a gun at anyone to take what he wants; people ‘sense’ his power and cheerfully give him everything they’ve got.”

“The meeting of deadlines and commitments alone causes a person to stand out from the crowd like an alien spaceship parked in an Iowa cornfield.”

“When you focus your self-discipline on a single purpose, like sunlight through a magnifying glass on a single object, look out! The whole world will scramble to get out of your way, hold the doors open for you, and salute as you walk by.”

“Eliminate the time between the idea and the act, and your dreams will become realities.”

-Dr. Edward L. Kramer

“Each minute separating Decision from Action worsens the odds of any action ever occurring.”

“There are three kinds of action: starting things or implementation, follow-through, and completion. When you have a decision, you have to start doing things about it.”

“An environment has to be created in which high self-discipline is supported. But self-discipline is required and rewarded.”

“The world only moves for you when you act.”

-Werner Erhard

“If you refuse to limit and control access to you, the war is lost even if you win a few battles here or there.”

“If you aren’t making lists, you’re probably making a lot of money either.”

“I insist that the only real reason more people aren’t much, much more productive is that they don’t have enough reasons to be. A secret to greater personal productivity is more reasons to be more productive. That’s why you have to fight to link everything you do (and choose not to do) to your goals.”

“If you’re going to achieve peak personal productivity, you’ve got to define peak personal productivity.”

“Focus is everything and nothing forces focus like intense time pressure.”

“Deadlines refine the mind.”

“The best way to get something done is to have to. The best way to get a lot of things done is to be under a lot of pressure to pull them off.”

-Walt Disney

“Both your conscious and subconscious minds are capable of much more than you now ask of them, and they and you can be conditioned to thrive under intense deadline pressure.”

“You can use YouTube for something other than watching kittens water ski.”

“You can turn your car into a classroom.”

“You can condition your subconscious with spaced repetition learning most easily with audio; 7 to 21 repetitions of the same messages automatically embeds. Few will read the same book seven times.”

“Disciplined use of the time everybody else wastes can give you an edge.”

“When you say to yourself, ‘It’s only ten minutes,’ you miss the entire point of time.”

“A strong fortress must be constructed around the goal and the linked activities and responsibilities - with snipers in the towers atop the wall, an alligator-filled moat around it, and land mines in the ground for miles around it.

People who negatively interfere with no negative intent or malice aforethought are just as dangerous to you as those deliberately trying to stop your forward progress or upward mobility.”

“Decisiveness saves a lot of time.”

“What takes others weeks should take days, what takes others days should take hours, and what takes others hours should take minutes. That’s the level of decisiveness you want to cultivate and develop. It will save you a lot of time.”

“We only get paid for DONE.”

“We’re overpaying him, but he’s worth it.”

-Samuel Goldwyn

“Liberation is the ultimate entrepreneurial achievement.”

“If you’re looking for the answer that turns your time into the most money and wealth possible, then turn your attention to marketing. Get free from as many other aspects of your business as you can, get passionately interested in and good at marketing, and invest your time there. Why?

Because it is infinitely easier to find or train someone to take care of a business’s operations than it is to get someone to do its marketing. Marketing is the highest-paid profession and most valuable part of a business.

The person who can create systems for acquiring customers, clients, or patients effectively and profitably is the ‘money person.’ He is the equivalent of a ‘high impact’ or ‘franchise’ player in sports.”

“People who want things from you - cooperation, favors, money - can reasonably be required not to ask you to fetch for them.”

“The people around you rarely have a neutral effect. They either facilitate your accomplishment, undermine it, or they outright sabotage it.”

“Each minute of your time is made more or less valuable by the condition of your mind, and it is constantly being conditioned by association.”

“You want to deliberately increase the amount of your time directed at chosen thinking, input, and constructive, productive association. You want to associate with strivers and achievers - with winners and champions. This is an uplifting force that translates into peak performance, which makes all your time more valuable.”

“If you can’t control your thoughts and manage your mind, you can’t control or manage your time.”

“I have come to really, deeply, vehemently, and violently resent having my time wasted. I place a very, very high value on my time, and I believe that the value you really, honestly place on your time will control the way others value it and you.”

“Discipline doesn’t get made up as you go along.”

“Ninety percent of my phone appointments with clients, would-be clients, and people doing work for me are booked in 20-minute increments. In my experience, 20 minutes is enough if both parties are properly prepared for the call. If not, no call should occur.”

“You really have to get that it is all your time. All of it. Every minute of it. Yours.”

“When you permit people to take 30 minutes for a business phone conversation that could have been accomplished in 20, you let them take - and waste - 10 minutes of your time. Let that happen twice a day 250 workdays a year and it’s 5,000 minutes. In 5 years, 25,000 minutes. 416 hours. 52 eight-hour days. In a 40-year career, 200,000 minutes. 3,334 hours. 416 days. Now, what is it you said you don’t have the time to do?” 

“The entrepreneur must raise himself above these ordinary concerns.

An entrepreneur seeks income and financial rewards, independence and autonomy, and other outcomes that are profoundly different, apart from, and superior to those ever achieved or experienced by 95% of the people around you.

That requires you to think in profoundly different and superior ways. You can’t have one without the other. Success is a conceit. If you are to have it, it will be at an intellectual, emotional, and behavioral distance from most others.”

“Most time management training, books, courses, and lecturers focus almost entirely on mechanical methods and on tools: a better appointment book, a better software program, color stickers, and one kind of list or another. But these are no better than guns: useless without the will to use them.”

“There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement, for an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove that we are as good today as we were today. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything, we are fixed, so to speak, for life.

Moreover, when we have an alibi for not writing a book and not painting a picture and so on, we have an alibi for not writing the greatest book and not painting the greatest picture.

Small wonder that the effort expended and the punishment endured in obtaining a good alibi often exceed the effort and grief requisite for the attainment of a most marked achievement.”

-Eric Hoffer

“No one who is good at making excuses is also good at making money. The skills are mutually exclusive.”

“It never ceases to amaze me how people can manage to focus their time, energy, and resources on everything but the few vital things in their business that really have to do with directly making money.”

“What on earth had he been doing every hour of every day for a year that was more important than enhancing his business’ ability to attract and acquire new customers?”

“The opposite of being in control is being addicted.”

“There is no good excuse for addiction, and, no, you do not have to be in it to utilize it for marketing or other business purposes. I’ve made millions with direct mail but have never cut down a tree or even visited a paper mill, run a printing press, or worked inside a post office.”

“World-class scientists, behavioral scientists, neurologists, psychologists, computer scientists, and others have invested all their combined knowledge into creating and promoting a collection of activities we think of as social media, purposed to hijack more and more of your time, to provide incentives and rewards more significant and stimulating to you than all other activities, and to ultimately rewire your brain to be incapable of participating in other activities.

If something not so masterfully engineered can addict us - like my speaking on stages or driving in horse races - imagine how susceptible we are to something deliberately designed for that purpose!”

“By keeping people in this state of hyper-flux, they are rendered incapable of critical or rational thought, propelled into decisions, and made easier to manipulate, influence, control, and monetize. The more you permit yourself to be constantly stimulated, provoked, and sped up by this, the less control you retain over not just your time but over every aspect of your business and your life.”

“If you are negligent at making value decisions for yourself (and imposing them on the world), other people will be glad to make your value decisions for you and impose them on you.”

“Time and attention are the new currency being taken in a myriad of new ways - a situation that demands new vigilance and new strategy.

How effective you are at keeping control of your time and investing it wisely in and against this new conspiracy to take it away from you will absolutely determine your success as an entrepreneur.

Fail at this, fail at everything. Take this lightly, all will be taken from you.”

“It’s never too late. You can rescue yourself. Reverse your loss of capabilities. Take back control of your time, your business, and your life. Turn back from the slippery slope into the abyss. Recover from growing addictions.

It will require you to abandon the popular behaviors of the masses of addicts all around you - to be an Odd Man Out. This will be uncomfortable and taxing. But the alternative has to be - to you, the entrepreneur - unacceptable.”

“There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

-Christopher Morley

“I want you to keep in mind that your time is your life, no one else’s, and you should ignore criticism and needling, guilt-mongering, emotional manipulation, or obligation about the conscious, thoughtful choices you make about what you do - and don’t do - with it.”

“The entrepreneur simply cannot afford weakness or timidity. He needs an iron will. He is challenged minute by minute with temptations, distractions, interruptions, others’ emergencies and crises, competing and conflicting agendas, and on and on and on.

All of his successes - business, career, and professional; financial; civic and philanthropic; with relationships and family leadership; and with physical health and well-being - will be defined and determined by his success (or failure) with his time. It is everything.”

“It has been my privilege to write about time, here, for your benefit. May the remainder of yours be more firmly held.”

Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman:

Adam Grant said that this is the most important book ever written about time management, and I’m certainly inclined to agree. This is partly because Burkeman’s approach has always been the “negative” way, by which I mean operating by negation – eliminating rather than adding.

For example, his “negative” approach to happiness outlined in his earlier book, The Antidote, meant embracing suffering and doing things that are challenging, instead of running from them, which would have, paradoxically, led to more suffering over time. That book basically dealt with the famous question: Do you want an easy life? Or the strength to endure a difficult one?”

If you’re wise, you’ll take the strength every time! And here, in Four Thousand Weeks, where time management is concerned, Burkeman counsels giving up the idea of ever getting everything done. He says that you’re never going to get to a point where you feel like you’re totally on top of everything; and the very effort is wearing us out, stressing us out, and leading us to waste our absurdly, terrifyingly short lives on trivia and nonsense.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“The average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short. Here’s one way of putting things in perspective: the first modern humans appeared on the plains of Africa at least 200,000 years ago, and scientists estimate that life, in some form, will persist for another 1.5 billion years or more, until the intensifying heat of the sun condemns the last organism to death. But you? Assuming you live to be eighty, you’ll have had about four thousand weeks.”

“The world is bursting with wonder, and yet it’s the rare productivity guru who seems to have considered the possibility that the ultimate point of all our frenetic doing might be to experience more of that wonder.”

“Most of us spend a lot of energy, one way or another, in trying to avoid fully experiencing the reality in which we find ourselves.”

Read the Full Breakdown: Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman

Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari:

This important book demands the kind of attention and deep, nuanced thought that we as individuals and as a society are becoming less able to devote to anything.

In Stolen Focus, Johann Hari investigates 12 distinct causes of our dwindling attention spans - several of them systematic causes - and offers a degree of hope, even though none of us are able to win the battle for our attention alone.

Perhaps one of the most important takeaways from the entire book is that your increasing inability to focus is not completely your fault, and believing that it is a personal failing of yours is simply unhelpful in the very worst way.

The fact is that you and I are living within a society that is systematically siphoning off your attention, and as valuable as self-discipline is, it's not going to be enough to solve what Hari calls "the attention crisis."

And it really is a crisis. I mean, you've got the average American worker being distracted roughly once every three minutes, and even the average CEO of a Fortune 500 company gets just twenty-eight uninterrupted minutes a day. A day!

The reality is that today, around one in five car accidents is due to a distracted driver, and untold millions of people struggle every day with the simple act of putting down their phones. But it's not their fault, says Hari, because every time you try to put down your phone, there are a thousand engineers on the other side of the screen working against you. What kind of personal will or self-discipline can stand alone against that?

So, it's obvious that our ability to pay attention is collapsing, but Johann Hari was determined to find out why this is happening.

In the process of attempting to reclaim his own mind and his own ability to focus, he ended up interviewing a multitude of experts - computer scientists, social scientists, educators, psychologists, neuroscientists, technologists, etc. - and the result is this impeccably researched and insightful book.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“The truth is that you are living in a system that is pouring acid on your attention every day, and then you are being told to blame yourself and to fiddle with your own habits while the world's attention burns."

“We told ourselves we could have a massive expansion in the amount of information we are exposed to, and the speed at which it hits us, with no costs. This is a delusion: It becomes exhausting."

“The longer you make people look at their phones, the more advertising they see - and therefore the more money Google gets."

Read the Full Breakdown: Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari

Make Time, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky:

Books are like a handful of silence, and books like Make Time are like an oasis of sanity and calm within the chaos of our busy, ever-accelerating lives.

The authors, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky are two tech innovators with deep domain experience and expertise who recently made the shift from being part of the problem to being part of the solution.

They've also spent years experimenting with their own habits and routines and engaging thoughtfully with the deeper questions of the proper role of technology in our lives, and the end result is this book.

Make Time presents a dead-simple, 4-step system for setting daily targets, improving focus, eliminating distractions, optimizing energy, and reflecting on what works for you and what doesn't so that you can begin to design your days and become the intentional architect of your own life.

Jake and John also identify two primary obstacles to deep focus and daily joy, which they refer to as Infinity Pools and the Busy Bandwagon.

Briefly, something is an Infinity Pool if you can scroll or refresh at any time to access a virtually infinite reservoir of new and stimulating content that's designed to constantly pull you away from your most important work. Think YouTube, Gmail, Netflix, etc.

The Busy Bandwagon refers to the always-on, go-go-go ethos of relentless productivity and 24/7/365 access to your mind by anyone who wants you to place their priorities ahead of your own. Demanding bosses, unrealistic expectations of coworkers, the treadmill of email, etc.

Make Time isn't supposed to be a complete diagnosis and cure for the state of distraction in the world today - it's just supposed to help you make some time for the things that are actually important to you and to bring more joy into your work and your life. And at that task, the book succeeds beautifully.

Alongside the 4-step strategy for making time, the authors include 87 different tactics that will actually help you do that!

The whole book feels like a conversation between the two of them and the reader - like the person reading it is a really terrific friend of theirs that the authors want to see succeed and be happy.

Gaining distance from your defaults is going to be one of the greatest benefits that this book will give you. It's also uniquely difficult to do, because, by definition, defaults are basically habits. They're automatic, and so we need a consciously-chosen system for changing those defaults.

Make Time is that system; Jake and John are your friendly and knowledgeable guides, and freedom is about to become your new normal.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“Infinity Pools are apps and other sources of endlessly replenishing content. If you can pull to refresh, it's an Infinity Pool. If it streams, it's an Infinity Pool. This always-available, always-new entertainment is your reward for the exhaustion of constant busyness."

“The first step is choosing a single highlight to prioritize in your day. Next, you'll employ specific tactics to stay laser-focused on that highlight. Throughout the day, you'll build energy so you can stay in control of your time and attention. Finally, you'll reflect on the day with a few simple notes."

“Product designers like us have spent decades removing barriers to make these products as easy to access as possible. The key to getting into Laser mode and focusing on your Highlight is to bring those barriers back."

Read the Full Breakdown: Make Time, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller:

Thousands of years ago, Socrates said that the way to get to Mount Olympus was to make sure that every step you take is in that direction.

Instead of Mount Olympus (which was ancient Greek "Heaven" basically, where all the gods hung out), we can input our biggest goals and our most important work - what we want our lives to actually be about.

Similar sentiments have been expressed throughout history, such as in the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu more than 2,500 years ago. He's the one who said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Certainly, this idea didn't originate with Gary Keller, and it may seem strange to put the names of Socrates, Lao Tzu, and Gary together in the same sentence, but the idea of the ONE Thing is an exceptionally powerful one.

Keller argues that the key to achieving extraordinary success in life is to focus every single day, every single moment, on your ONE Thing: that one thing that, if you did it, would make everything else either easier or unnecessary, and that would propel you toward your most important goal.

The choice here is between traveling a mile in a thousand different directions, or traveling 1,000 miles in one direction.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

"What’s the ONE Thing that I can do, such that by doing it, everything else would be either easier or unnecessary?"

“The majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do.”

“Keep going. You can actually take 20 percent of the 20 percent of the 20 percent and continue until you get to the single most important thing! No matter the task, mission, or goal. Big or small.

Start with as large a list as you want, but develop the mindset that you will whittle your way from there to the critical few and not stop until you end with the essential ONE. The imperative ONE. The ONE Thing."

Read the Full Breakdown: The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller

The View from the Opposition:

No one's ideas are beyond questioning. In this section, I argue the case for the opposition and raise some points you might wish to evaluate for yourself while reading this book.

#1: Dan Does Dan Things and He's Not for Everybody

There may be very few truly original ideas, but there's still room for a variety of authors writing about the same ones because different authors will often resonate with different audiences.

Dan Kennedy's writing style is more abrasive than most, and he might alienate more readers than most writers do, but you can never say that he isn't sincere.

What you get is who he is, and it's entirely possible that he just won't be for you. And that's okay! What's more, it's totally understandable too, because he definitely has a "worldview" and he's not shy about sprinkling in some political opinions every 30 pages or so either.

You might also think he goes too far with some of his time management strategies, or that he should be more forgiving with people who take up his time, etc. Personally, I don't think most people go far enough in taking steps to protect their time, so Dan's book is a kind of counterweight to that. But again, if the book doesn't speak to you, there are others!

I will say, though, that most people tend to dismiss his entire methodology because it's not "practical" for them. That's a mistake. He's not actually suggesting that every single person who reads his book starts refusing meetings unless the other party agrees to hold them at restaurants no further than ten minutes away from their office, or that everybody stop taking incoming calls completely and only communicate via fax.

These are his methods, and elements of them may work for you, but the most important part is the philosohy behind them. Specifically, that people who want a piece of your irreplacable time have to earn it, be worthy of it, and respect it. I do, however, share most people's hope that he's nicer in real life than he is in his books.

#2: More Avoidance Than Prioritization

Much of the book discusses how to avoid other people and manage interruptions, and Dan doesn't offer much help in the way of prioritizing your most important work, other than according to what's going to generate the most money.

Naturally, the first function of a business is to make money, so Dan does have a point. And this is a book primarily for entrepreneurs, so that makes sense. But if you don't own and operate a business, you'll be left relatively empty-handed in this one area.

That being the case, it's up to you, once you've implemented Dan's advice and freed up a tremendous amount of time, to take it upon yourself to figure out how best to invest it. You can do that according to what's going to make you the most money, but it's certainly not the only way.

#3: Stress Versus Pressure

Reading about Dan Kennedy's time management system - all the clocks and timers, the system of checks and balances and rules, the hangman's noose sitting across from his desk, constantly reminding him of death, which is, of course, the ultimate clock timer - it's reasonable to think that it all adds up to quite a stressful life. And you're not wrong!

That said, I'd push back on this a little bit and say that there's a difference between "stress" and "pressure." Yes, such a system absolutely adds a layer of performance pressure to your work life, but that can actually be a fantastic thing that works extremely well in your favor.

Competition, expectations, and meaningful challenges often bring out the best in us, and so if you can recreate the conditions necessary for high performance and demand more from yourself by implementing this system, your output and the quality of that output is likely to increase significantly.

Stress, on the other hand, in just...stressful! There's another word, eustress, that means something like "constructive stress," and you can think of it almost like pressure in the context above. You stress your muscles in the gym so they can grow bigger and stronger. It's stressful to place such large demands on your muscle fibers, but it also tends to result in more growth. It's kind of the same idea here.

In contrast, what's actually stressful is chaos and disorganization: the free-floating anxiety that accompanies being awash in distractions, grinding away in something like poverty, and never quite having enough time. That's stressful. But implementing Dan's methods (and, again, more importantly, the philosophy behind them) is most likely your best chance of overcoming that kind of stress and replacing it with eustress, or positive performance pressure.

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Questions to Stimulate Your Thinking:

The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. That's also how you get the absolute most out of any book that you decide to read:

You ask great questions the whole time - as though the book was on trial for its life.

Here in this section are a few questions that can help guide and stimulate your thinking, but try to come up with your own additional questions, especially if you decide to read this book the whole way through...

#1: "How conscious are you of the constant, neverending passage of time?"

#2: "What personal criteria do you have for determining whether a specific activity or course of action is a good use of your time?"

#3: "How can you structure your environment to help you remain focused on your priorities and hyper-conscious of where your time is being spent?"

#4: “This gives you a very simple standard for determining, minute by minute, task by task, choice by choice, whether you are being productive or unproductive: Is what I am doing, this minute, moving me measurably closer to my goals?”

#5: “What plan are you working on to reduce your business’s and income’s dependency on your own time and effort?”

#6: “If it’s not important enough to do properly, why are you doing it at all?”

#7: "If you don't have enough time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?"

#8: "How easy is it to get in touch with you? What barriers do you have in place to make sure that you safeguard as much time as possible against the predations of others who would waste it?"

#9: “How tough are you on those who would undervalue your time? How tough are you on yourself?”

#10: "If you saved several hours of productive time and each and every day, how would you invest that time from here on out? Would you throw it away again, or would you hold onto it for dear life?"

"Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers."

Action Steps:

So you've finished reading. What do you do now?

Reading for pleasure is great, and I wholeheartedly support it. However, I am intensely practical when I'm reading for a particular purpose. I want a result. I want to take what I've learned and apply it to my one and only life to make it better!

Because that's really what the Great Books all say. They all say: "You must change your life!" So here, below, are some suggestions for how you can apply the wisdom found in this breakdown to improve your actual life.

Please commit to taking massive action on this immediately! Acting on what you've learned here today will also help you solidify it in your long-term memory. So there's a double benefit! Let's begin...

#1: You Need Two Lists

Dan operates using four separate lists, and, personally I operate using a whole system of lists (some lists containing lists referring to other lists), but you don't need to develop anything nearly so complex, and you certainly don't need to have four or more lists. You do, however, need more than zero.

I would recommend starting with two: a to-do list, and a "stop doing" list, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a list of time-wasting or energy-draining activities that you pledge to stop doing.

Furthermore, a good practice is prioritizing your to-do list from "most important" to "least important" by marking each item with a letter from "A" to "C." The most important tasks that you need to complete are marked with an "A," the second-most important tasks get marked with a "B," and so on.

Dan Kennedy also uses a schedule (which I just combine with my regular to-do list, but to each their own) and a "to call" list, but those may or may not be relevant to you. A "projects" list can also be helpful, and I swear by mine. While you can't "do" a project, you can make progress on them each day, and so I have my projects list and I break them down into actionable tasks that then make it onto my to-do list.

Regardless of the particular system you adopt, the more you get on paper the less you have to remember and mentally juggle throughout the day, keeping your mind free to focus on the actual doing.

The reason why you're not more productive is because you don't have a sufficient reason to be. As Dan would say, you don't have enough good reasons to be productive, so you're not. Simple as that.

This is why you should consider linking everything on your to-do list to your goals, your larger purpose for getting those things done. Why are you actually doing this? Why does this need to get done now? What foundational, meaningful goal is the completion of this task getting you to closer to?

It's hard to get motivated about something you don't care about, and I'll be the first to admit that most modern office jobs don't exactly lend themselves to high levels of excitement about the work itself. But if you can link what you're doing to more important goals like gaining financial freedom for the people you love and care about, you'll end up becoming far more productive and investing your time more intelligently.

The reason I get a tremendous amount of work done is that I care about the goals that my work is linked to! Every single thing I cross off my list (well, most things) is bringing me closer to achieving my ultimate vision.

A good benchmark to shoot for here is being able to answer "Yes" to the question, "Is this bringing me closer to my goal?" at least 50% of the time. Absolute, total, 100% productivity wouldn't be attainable or desirable (when would you simply wander along the beach, or explore your favorite local park, with no end in mind but simply enjoying yourself?), but 50% seems like a good goal to shoot for.

#3: Practice Time Blocking

Carving out specific times for completing your most important work can almost be seen as making - and keeping - inviolate appointments with yourself. This can be equally as important as respecting everyone else's time and keeping appointments with other people.

Time blocking is where you block out specific periods of time and commit to spending it on one specific task, usually something that's more cognitively or creatively demanding.

For example, if you have a YouTube channel where you publish videos 3x per week, those videos aren't going to script, record, and edit themselves. You have to block out time for it! If it's important to you, you can't just "find time" for it somewhere, you have to make the time; you have to put it in your schedule first, and then schedule everything else around it.

If you've calculated how much your time is actually worth, you can compare that to how many hours the task or project is likely to take and how much you expect to earn from its successful completion.

This may not apply to more creative pursuits (or to things like growing a YouTube channel, with slow growth in the beginning that compounds over time), but if you know these numbers, you can see that, for example, the project will generate you approximately $1,000 in income, and your time is worth $25/hour. This means that you can spend up to 40 hours working on it and still come out ahead.

Block out 40 total hours for that project, and realize that if you go over, you're going to wind up being underpaid for your work. Then, you can take steps to make sure you finish under the allotted time, such as instituting the next Action Step.

Above all, though, the most important reason to block off your time is that it helps you account for more of the hours you actually have available to work. The less free-floating space you have in your calendar, the more discriminating you have to be about what is and is not a productive use of your time.

#4: Institute a "Closed Door" Policy

A closed door is a signal sent to the universe that means you mean business.

A key element of effective time management is the minimization of distractions and interruptions, and restricting access to you (and making it known that you're unavailable) will help you say no to what doesn't matter and yes to what does.

Most of everything in life can wait at least an hour, and you don't want to give people the impression that they may be entitled to a piece of your most productive time. A closed door lets you say no to minutia and other people's priorities, and it allows you to say yes to the best uses of your time.

You can signal your new policy with an actual signal, such as a "do not disturb" sign or something else (I'm fond of Dan Kennedy's purple dragon idea, myself) but as long as it gets the message across (to yourself and others), that's the way to go. And always remember: they can't interrupt you if they can't find you.

#5: Fill Your Environment with Psychological Triggers

You don't have to go to the same extreme lengths as Dan Kennedy does - with the hangman's noose in his line of sight, the dozens of clocks, etc., but it's important to optimize your environment by planting reminders of your priorities in strategic places within it.

I do this myself in several ways, and it works for me, but naturally you'll want to settle on a system that works for you personally. How I do it is with simple, motivational phrases in the Notes app on my phone, written out at the top of my various lists, etc. I don't have many physical reminders of the passing of time, but having a clock or two facing you isn't the worst idea! The great neurologist Oliver Sacks used to have a big paper sign above his telephone that just said "No!" to remind him not to say yes to commitments that he'd regret later.

Your environment influences you to an incredible degree, and while you may not have complete control over it, you can influence it, and do as much as possible to make sure that your environment is assisting you in moving closer to what you've decided is important. It's worth it to give this some significant thought, not only about what you might want to add, but also about what you should remove.

"The path to success is to take massive, determined action."
-Tony Robbins

About the Author:

Dan S. Kennedy is the provocative, truth-telling author of seven popular No B.S. books, thirteen business books total; a serial, successful, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; trusted marketing advisor, consultant and coach to hundreds of private entrepreneurial clients running businesses from $1-million to $1-billion in size; and he influences well over 1-million independent business owners annually through his newsletters, tele-coaching programs, local Chapters and Kennedy Study Groups meeting in over 100 cities, and a network of top niched consultants in nearly 150 different business and industry categories and professions.

As a speaker Dan, has repeatedly appeared with four former U.S. Presidents; business celebrities like Donald Trump and Gene Simmons (KISS, Family Jewels on A&E); legendary entrepreneurs including Jim McCann (1-800-Flowers), Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies), and Nido Qubein (Great Harvest Bread Co.); famous business speakers including Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Tom Hopkins, and Tony Robbins and countless sports and Hollywood celebrities. Dan has addressed audiences as large as 35,000....for more than ten consecutive years, he averaged speaking to more than 250,000 people per year.

Dan lives in Ohio and in northern Virginia, with his wife, Carla, and their Million Dollar Dog. He owns, races and drives professionally in about 100 harness races a year at Northfield Park near Cleveland, Ohio.

Additional Resources:

Dan Kennedy | Magnetic Marketing

Dan Kennedy | The Magnetic Marketing Podcast

Time Mastery | Online Course from Matt Karamazov

This Book on Amazon:

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, by Dan S. Kennedy

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Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari

Make Time, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown

Buy Back Your Time, by Dan Martell

Die with Zero, by Bill Perkins