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  • Writer's pictureMike Sonneveldt

A Vital Tip To Manage Your Time

Updated: May 22



a man looking at his watch. He looks calm and collected

I don't get to read enough in my life. Most of my time is spent in the educational realm, and this means I read various informational pieces or do research to build a case for a Podcast or presentation. Needless to say, when I sit down to read for “enjoyment”, I'd rather take in a solid work of fiction. 


However, my desires do not follow my purchasing decisions. Often, I pick something in history or science. But one genre I find myself always on the lookout for is self-improvement. 


I pour over studies, theories, anecdotes, and suggestions on improving everything from habits to deeply embedded character traits. 


I recently worked through a book titled, The Art of Manliness – Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the 7 Manly Virtues, by Brett McKay (the founder of the website www.artofmanliness.com). 


One of the virtues discussed by McKay is titled “Industry” and revolves around the use of time. It revolutionized how I view my time. For the longest time, I battled my own inefficiencies. 


There’s always a dreadful sense that I'm being rather inefficient with my time. 

This section on Industry finally gave me the words to describe the problem. 

 

The Problem 

I spend a lot of hours working. Normally, I do not spend 70-80 hours a week at the office, but even when I am home, my mind spins in work mode. Unfortunately, my wife noticed. 


Not too long ago, we had a conversation about my mental and emotional disconnect. To be honest, I appreciated the fact that she called me out. My lack of focus on family stood out, being more noticeable than I realized.  


You may be similar to me. The question is: Are you an all-or-nothing person? If you are not at work or working in some capacity, are you sitting on the couch? And if you sit on that couch, are you useless to the world? Does your phone or the television snag you away from everything? 


This stands as not just a relaxation problem but a time problem. 


Our time could be better spent. Even when we work, we may catch ourselves scrolling through some random site or conversing with co-workers. Beware, for the nagging feeling that you are wasting time and may be sitting around the corner.

For me, I feel as though I could be doing more with the projects or goals that I have. When I get those few moments to watch television, I wonder whether what I'm doing is worthwhile and building towards something or if am I just passively consuming. 


We spend hours on end scrolling mindlessly through our phones or watching random YouTube videos. We dedicate an inordinate amount of time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media. 


None of this is bad, evil, or wicked on its own. But do you ever wonder: could your time be better spent? 

 

The Solution 

We think of time as a never-ending stream given to us. But what if we viewed time as a level playing field of potential wealth? 


Each man is given the same amount of time each day. That means every one of us receives 24 hours in a day. Each of those hours is filled with 60 minutes. That's 1440 minutes. 


We can neither add nor subtract from time in the day. 


The wondrous miracle of this is in its equality.  


The wealthy man uses every dollar he has in the best way possible. He invests in it. He uses it to gain more dollars. Despite what we tend to think: the wealthy man does not merely store up his dollars. He takes them and invests in them. That investment produces more dollars. 


So why do we see no need to invest our minutes? 

 

Inspiration From the Greats 

The most productive men made legendary lives using every single minute and investing it into their goals. If we look at some of the examples provided in the book, we get a very clear picture of what it looks like to truly be efficient with our time. 

 

Benjamin Franklin 

Benjamin Franklin was a printer, publisher, author, inventor, scientist, and diplomat. He bought the print shop he started working at after 2 years of a partnership. He printed Pennsylvania's currency after writing an essay on the necessity of paper currency. He became a printer in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. He started the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard's Almanac. He made income and invested in rental properties. By the 1740s, he was one of the wealthiest colonists in the northern part of the colonies.  


He organized a debate club, paid a city watch and volunteer fire department, and formed the American Philosophical Society. He gained various political offices, and during that time, also invented useful items while scientifically experimenting. 

 

Teddy Roosevelt 

Teddy Roosevelt’s campaign schedule would have ground most of us to dust within a week.  

  • 7:00am Breakfast  

  • 7:30am A speech  

  • 8:00am Reading a historical work  

  • 9:00am A speech  

  • 10:00am Dictating letters  

  • 11:00am Discussing Montana mines  

  • 11:30am A speech  

  • 12:00pm Reading an ornithological work  

  • 12:30pm A speech  

  • 1:00pm Lunch  

  • 1:30pm A speech  

  • 2:30pm Reading [Scottish novelist] Sir Walter Scott  

  • 3:00pm Answering telegrams  

  • 3:45pm A speech  

  • 4:00pm Meeting the press  

  • 4:30pm Reading  

  • 5:00pm A speech  

  • 6:00pm Reading  

  • 7:00pm Supper  

  • 8-10pm Speaking  

  • 11:00pm Reading alone in his car  

  • 12:00am To bed  


The man was unstoppable. He might give seven speeches in a day while spending six other times reading. We must admire such a man's ruggedness, work ethic, toughness, and discipline. His outlook on life was to squeeze every possible ounce out of it and to never compromise. 


Despite growing up sickly and weak, the man made it his life mission to become tougher than nails. So much so, that he gave a speech immediately after being shot...with the bullet still lodged in his ribs. 

 

It is Yours for the Taking 

The wealth of each minute is ours for the taking. Each day we get blessed with unlimited potential. This means that each moment not spent with some chore, job, or responsibility is fair game to be used to our advantage. Investing each minute becomes a challenge, and I've found that the simple thought of using each minute has motivated me to pursue a rabid destruction of my day’s inefficiencies. 


When you catch yourself staring at your phone, think, “Am I investing my minutes or wasting them?” You may find that spark of motivation to turn it off and pursue something. Enjoy using every moment to its full potential. 


Many projects exist in your day to day. Some of them are valuable. Some are not. The greatest men allow no excuse to derail them from pursuing those projects which really matter. 


As I work on this, I have discovered a new passion to take my valuable minutes and put them to good use. This includes working on several writing projects, art passions, and personal pursuits. 

 

What is The Catch? 

We might jump to the conclusion that this means sacrificing our family or responsibilities. But in fact, it drives us to be passionate about those as well. They are more important than work tasks and deserve our attention and focus. Our kids are a lifelong responsibility and our greatest job in life is to produce independent, self-sufficient, righteous adults. 


Your life can be a constant flow of productivity. Even active rest can have an element of productivity to it. 

 

The Process 

1) It’s In the Little Moments

If we look no further than President Roosevelt, we find that legacy is not built in massive blocks of time. It’s found in the tiny clusters of free minutes. If you had 10 minutes of free time: what would you do productively?  


2) Don’t Look To Eat The Elephant At Once

Ban any thought of, “But I won't be able to finish.” It's the chipping away that builds progress. In the past, I have limited myself because I thought I needed an hour or two to get anywhere. Your progress will speed up exponentially when you realize that small bites and chunks are valuable. 

 

3) Account For Every Minute 

When you look at the habits of accomplished men, you find that every minute is accounted for...whether officially or unofficially. 

  • Stephen King always carries a book with him to read when he's standing in line. 

  • Einstein worked on his scientific theories while working at a patent office. 

  • Ben Franklin would read and study while eating lunch. 


The usefulness of the minute is breathtaking in its power. We've watered it down and done our best to forget it exists. Our phones and emails suck life out of us and we attack things while on autopilot. But when we remind ourselves of the infinite value of a minute's progress, we're inspired to take that minute and wring every possible second from it. 

 

Time To Implement It 

Devote each day to getting better with your spare time. Knowing you can add up small minutes to make big changes makes the project or goal not only seem achievable, but it keeps you from getting overwhelmed. 


After all, what were you going to do with that spare five minutes anyway? Read a quick article about time management? 

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