By David Henderson
Over at marginalrevolution.com, Tyler Cowen has posted some excellent rules for managing your time. I won’t repeat them here–they’re short enough–but I want to add an important one, comment on a few, and add a final one.
Here’s the one I want to add:
Rule Number 0: Start!
Most of the people I talk to, and I, find that one of the hardest things to do is start something. We picture it in prospect and think that we have a big mountain to climb. It seems intimidating. But even climbing a big mountain starts with a single step. And once you take that step, you actually build a little momentum and the project typically doesn’t feel as hard as it did.
That’s my big contribution–thus the title of this post.
My comments on a few of Tyler’s rules.
Tyler: Do the most important things first in the day and don’t let anybody stop you.
DRH: Yes, and arrange the items you wish to accomplish in order of priority. Assign roughly accurate estimates of time to each. Then start with #1. Don’t make the mistake of listing 12 important things you want to do if realistically you can accomplish only 5 of them. When you see that you did 5, you should be able to celebrate rather than beating yourself because you didn’t do all 12. That’s where the time estimates come in.
Tyler: Each day stop writing just a bit before you have said everything you want to. Better to approach your next writing day “hungry” than to feel “written out.” Your biggest enemy is a day spent not writing, not a day spent writing too little.
DRH: I’ll hone this point a little. I try to stop when I’m in the middle of a relatively easy point I’m making rather than when I’m trying to solve a complex issue. Then, when I begin the next day, it’s easy.
Final rule and it’s also about starting:
Let’s say you get to about 4:50 p.m. and you normally go home at 5:00 p.m. You have just finished one task on your list, but there are some left. None of them takes as little as 10 minutes. Start the next task anyway. The 10 minutes you spend today is 10 minutes you don’t need to spend tomorrow. Think on the margin. (Pillar #3.)