Do you know that one day has 24 hours?

Do you REALLY know that?

You: Yes, of course I do.

Dwight: Do you know there are just 1440 minutes in a day? Do you know that one week is exactly 168 hours?

You: Well, when I calculate it out, I have no argument with that. Of course. 

Dwight: Stay with what I have to say below. You'll probably discover that, even though you "know" it, you're consistent actions don't reflect that knowing.

Most of us consistently design (consciously or by default) as if the number of hours in our day were flexible.

A lot of people are not very good with managing their money. I've found even fewer people are really good at "managing" their time.

The fundamental reason for this is similar to the reason people aren't good at managing their money. Those people prioritize spending over staying within their income and having money buffer.

The primary reason we aren't good at managing our time is that we prioritize getting things done over staying within our "time income" and have time buffer (which is always and exactly 24 hours in each day).

The addiction

This is an addiction. This is what almost everyone does. This is what our parents, our teachers, and our cultures teach and expect us to do in order to be successful and respected. More accomplishment is always better. Go for your dream. Results, results, results. Cram more in each day. Other people have this and that. You should have it all too. There's something wrong with you if you're not able to get it all done.

Maybe you don't think you have such a big problem with time

Are ANY of the following an issue for you?

  • Not having enough time for everything I want and need to do

  • Feeling I have to catch up with things

  • Often finding that urgent things push out important things

  • Consistently under estimating how long things will take

  • Not getting things done by the time I expect to or that I tell others that they will

  • Not punctual in my appointments with others

  • Getting impatient with myself or others because things are taking too long

  • Not having enough time to spend with each one of the important people in my life

  • Feeling like I am wasting my time

  • Biting off too much instead of taking things step by step

  • Not having enough time to get adequate sleep

  • At the end of the day, not feeling satisfied that I had enough time for everything I wanted/needed to do

  • Often having breakdowns or having to re-schedule things in my life because things happened that I didn't anticipate or plan for?

  • Feeling like I don't have enough time for myself, including time to take care of myself

  • Feeling that I'm short-changing others because I don't give them enough time

  • Looking back and wondering where the time went

  • Often not having enough buffer time in my day

  • Not feeling happy and satisfied with how I am using and spending my time

  • Waiting for some projected future when I think I will then have enough time

  • Having to tell others that I can't do something (that I would like to do) because I don't have enough time

  • Believing that if I can just "manage my time" right and be more efficient, then I won't have a problem with time

  • Believing that if I can delegate more then I will have enough time

  • Avoiding making plans or schedules because I don't want to have to make decisions about what I can/will do and what I cannot/will not do

  • Not having enough time for breaks? Or for holidays? Or to just veg out?

  • Not having enough time to make the money that I need/want to make?


To the extent that you have one or more of these issues, then you have a problem with time.

Money has more flexibility than time

For most of us we either have plenty of money to draw upon or we have a somewhat predictable monthly income. Often that the amount and stability of that income depends on certain continuing actions (like going to work each day). And it's possible for that amount of money to increase or decrease. It's also possible to retain the money you have and do nothing with it. 

Not true with time. You (and everyone else) has exactly 24 hours in each day, no more and no less. You have it whether you want it or not. You can't do anything about that. You don't have to do anything in order to always have that 24 hours (except you won't have it if you die).  This will never change. You will "spend it" however you spend it. You have to spend it all every day. You cannot spend more than it each day.

Many of us can borrow money from our future (borrow from others and agree to pay it back in the future, often with interest). Or we could ask others or arrange for others to give us money. Or we could steal money.

Not with time. There's no way you can "borrow" some of your future time so that you can put more than 24 hours into today's day. There is also no way that you could "save some time" from today's day so that you could "spend" it in some future day. There's no way you can get others to "lend you some of their time." Yes, they could do things for you, but that's different. There's also no way you could steal some hours from someone's day to add to your day today.

Again, why do we have so much trouble with REALLY knowing and aligning with how time works?

As I said before, we prioritize getting things done over staying within our "time income" and have time buffer (which is always and exactly 24 hours in each day). And we think we HAVE to do this. It's quite difficult for us to imagine doing it otherwise (at least not for now).

This cultural indoctrination prioritizes making our Next as the good guy, focusing on getting results in the future at the expense of sacrificing being happy now (with our Now, when he or she resists or rebels against Next, being the bad guy). See the Now-Next Wars to fully appreciate the consequences of this prioritization.

The only permanent way to end your life-long battle with how time works (and have a GREAT life)

We must reverse our priorities. We must create the process (and enjoying the process) that works so that we "have enough time for everything" as our #1 priority.  Yes, we can set time for certain tasks to get done and to get things accomplished. But these intended results must now reside INSIDE of the design of a prioritized process that flows easily and enjoyably, with few if any breakdowns. The first step to create this prioritization is to declare it (and re-declare it): 

"I, (your name), am prioritizing Now-Next integrity over allowing my Next to dominate my Now (where my Now is unhappy) or my Now to rebel against my Next (where my Next is unhappy)." See Are You Going in the Wrong Direction? to more fully understand this declaration (and to learn about two other important new declarations).


Do rigorous time accounting (similar to how you would set and track your budget (money accounting)

This new prioritization and its implementation requires a fundamental acceptance of the exact and unalterable amount of time that you will have and will always have in every day and every week. As a corollary, it includes a serious intention, reinforced again and again, to learn not to over estimate how much you can get done or how long doing it will take. In also includes under promising and not under estimating how much buffer you need to allow for in your planning. It includes, at least at the beginning, a new rigor in time accounting (where you "account" for everything (sleep, toilet time, time for unexpected interruptions, low-energy times, and so on). See Having Enough Time for Everything as one rigorous way to do this. As Francis Bacon said, "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." The first step in "obeying nature," is to get clear about the facts of time (which include the facts of how long things take and how much buffer you need).

Other facts/processes to ensure that the facts of time support you instead of thwart you