One thing I have always been incredibly fascinated with is how the most successful people in the world manage their time. Recently, I sat down with one of the world's leading thinkers on productivity and New York Times bestselling author, Rory Vaden.
We discussed that there are really three generations of time-management thinking.
Era 1 time-management thinking was all about efficiency.
It was predicated on the idea of doing things faster. All things being equal, efficiency is good, but there is a limitation to efficiency that gives it a point of diminishing returns as a time-management strategy.
No matter how efficient we are, in today's day and age, there is always going to be more to do than we can ever get to. At one point in history the idea was to create tips and tricks and tools and technology to help us get our to-do list done faster so we'd have margin or space left over.
But that’s an incomplete strategy today. Because we all carry computers in our pocket, we are all working as efficiently as ever before and we are still never caught up. That’s because at the end of today’s modern to-do list isn’t more margin -- it’s another to-do list!
Era 2 time-management thinking was about prioritizing.
Prioritizing time was about developing calendars and checklists to help us focus first on what matters most.
Prioritizing has been the pervasive paradigm of thinking in the world of productivity since 1989. We still refer to “prioritizing” as the cure-all for most of our time-management problems. While prioritizing is still a highly valuable skill and as relevant as ever before, it too has a very substantial limitation that nobody ever talks about.
According to Vaden, there is nothing about prioritizing that creates more time. All prioritizing does is put one thing in front of the other. It takes item seven on your to-do list and bumps it up to one. But it does nothing to help you get the other items on your to-do list completed and it does not create more time. Prioritizing is simply borrowing time from one activity to spend on another.
The modern era is all about multiplying time.
In the world today, a new type of thinker has emerged. They don’t manage their time and they don’t prioritize their time -- they multiply their time.
Multipliers have figured out ways to actually create more time while everyone else is still living with the fallacy that time is finite. Welcome to Era 3 time-management thinking.
How in the world do you multiply time? Simple.
In fact, this next sentence is the entire core premise of Vaden's new book that comes out in January (Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time).
You multiply your time by giving yourself the emotional permission to spend time on things today that create more time tomorrow.
You don’t just think, “what are the most important things I have to get done today or this week?”
Instead, you ask the question, “what are the things that I could do today that would free up more time tomorrow?”
Vaden says, "When you ask yourself that question, you will find that you immediately feel less pressure to only focus on the urgent things that are pressing today or this week and you instead gain a perspective to start thinking about what you can be doing now to make a positive impact on the future. You give yourself permission to do the significant things that matter for the long term."
That is what multipliers do.
He goes on to say, "They get outside of their to-do list of short-term priorities and they realize that the real key to creating more margin in their life isn’t about working faster, or somehow 'prioritizing' better, it’s about learning to think differently."
To be a multiplier you must stop living urgently, and start living significantly.