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Time Management for Top Performers

By Leo Babauta

In my coaching practice and Fearless Mastery mastermind group, I work with some high performers. These are people who have excelled at something in their lives.

They’re always looking to take themselves to the next level.

And they’re always wanting to make the most of their time.

The key to how to make the most of your time, if you’re a high performer, is finding high-impact ways to leverage your limited time.

Let’s take a look at some key ideas here.

Our Time is Limited

I find it important to reflect on death, on a regular basis. Just the simple fact that we will die someday … and we don’t know when.

This helps us to remember that life is short and precious, and to resolve to make the most of this gift.

As a high performer, you can make a big impact on the world, doing good and serving people in a meaningful way, with the limited time you have in this life.

But it’s important to do so by not frittering away time with busywork. We tend to go to the easy tasks, keeping busy by doing a bunch of little things. You could spend a year like this and not make much progress on anything meaningful, just staying afloat.

Let’s remind ourselves regularly that we have limited time each day and each week.

We Have Too Many Things We Can Do

Our time is limited, but our tasks are seemingly unlimited.

On any day, we have more things that we could do than we can actually get done. We’ll always finish the day with undone tasks. This is always true — every year, we have way more options than we can possibly take on.

With that in mind — that our time is limited, and we have more tasks/projects than we can possibly do — this brings home an important question:

How do we make the most of our limited time?

More specifically: What’s the best investment of your time right now?

What high-impact task can best leverage your time right now?

And the only way to answer that is to answer these questions:

  1. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. What impact do you want to have?
  3. What would be meaningful to you?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can’t know what would be the best way to leverage your time. You can’t know which tasks to choose, because they’re all about the same.

Get Clear on What Matters

What do you care most about accomplishing? And why?

What do you want to do with this year? Quarter? Month? Week?

Write out the answers to those questions. Answering those questions is the thing you can do right now that would have the highest impact.

Then answer:

What do you want to do with this day?

Getting Good at Focus

Once you’ve gotten clear on what matters, the rest is execution. And you’re already pretty good at that.

What do you want to accomplish today? Get clear on that in the morning — or even better, the evening before. Make a list of 1-3 things — what key tasks should you focus on to leverage your time today?

Then in the morning, focus on those high-impact tasks. Use your time like a limited resource that it is: take it and make the most of it.

Focus on the things that matter. Clear everything else away, and don’t act on the urges to put off the important stuff.

Notice when you’re turning away from the high-impact tasks, and train yourself to turn towards it instead.

Batch the smaller stuff (like email and messages) and give that some time later in the day to focus, if that’s important to your work.

Train yourself to focus, and train yourself to always know what you should focus on.

And then connect to why it’s meaningful.

This is how high performers can train to get the most out of their limited time, and make a meaningful impact on the world.

Train with me: Coaching for High Performers

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