15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse
15 secrets
Published on July 7, 2016
published on July 7, 2016

ThePeopleAlchemist Edit: book review


Kevin Kruse captures/explains in 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management the 15 most useful time-management secrets in a series of revealing interviews with seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, 29 star students, and 239 entrepreneurs.

Kevin Kruse is a New York Times best-selling author, frequent Forbes contributor, consultant, and Inc. 500 award-winner. He founded several multimillion-dollar companies and conducts presentations on productivity at conferences worldwide.


Take-Aways from the book – 15 Secrets:

  • Highly successful people view time as their most valuable asset.
  • A tightly scheduled calendar relieves stress and increases intellectual focus.
  • Identifying your most important goal will help you prioritise your tasks.
  • Many of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs carry notebooks so they can jot down their ideas immediately.
  • Brief daily huddles can replace long meetings, reduce emails, and unite your team.
  • The 80/20 principle holds that 20% of the work generates 80% of the results.
  • Delegating as many tasks as possible frees your time for your highest-return goals.
  • Many entrepreneurs assign themes to days of the week, such as “focus days” or “buffer days.”
  • High achievers deal with incoming short-term tasks instantly to avoid extra work and clutter.
  • Renewing your physical and mental energy with sleep and relaxation improves your productivity.

1. “Time Is Your Most Valuable and Scarcest Resource”

Successful people recognise time as their most valuable asset. The loss of money, even the failure of a business, still leaves future opportunities to regain ground, but lost time is irreplaceable.

“Highly successful people don’t think about time much at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities, and consistent habits.”

2. “Identify Your Most Important Task” and Do It First

Successful people focus on their top priority, long-term goals, and identify meaningful, specific short-term goals they must accomplish first. Breaking short-term goals down into measurable steps guides high achievers to their “most important tasks” (MIT). They concentrate on completing all or part of their MITs before they go on to other activities.

3. “Work from Your Calendar, Not a To-Do List”

A to-do list can become a monster. Vanquishing one problem only creates many more to add to the list. Most successful CEOs rely on strictly scheduled calendars. Sticking to a schedule allows time for you to focus first on your MITs. Deciding what tasks deserve calendar space or blocks of time keeps you from wasting time. Entrepreneurs report that tightly organized calendars reduce stress.

They also set aside specific chunks of time for relaxation. Highly successful people set aside time to care for their health and their personal lives, families, and communities.

4. To Overcome Procrastination, “Beat Your Future Self”

Most people say procrastination is why they choose easier tasks first or believe they will perform better later, but don’t measure up. Instead of delaying, try these “procrastination busters”:

    • Do now what you promise you’ll do later – Defeating procrastination means doing what you should do right this minute instead of trusting some future version of yourself “to do the right thing” later. To succeed, be better now.
    • For motivation, imagine your results – Whether finishing a task will give you pleasure or failing to get it done will cause you pain, imagine the outcome of your actions.
    • Share the burden – Being responsible to someone else who shares your goal, like a fellow jogger, creates an emotional commitment. Enlist an “accountability partner.”
    • Grab the carrot; avoid the stick – The promise of a future reward lures some people, but often the fear of punishment works better. Devising a personal non-completion penalty in the form of a charitable contribution can turn your lack into a community gain.
    • Behave like the person you hope to become – Adopt the behaviours of your ideal self to anchor your values and make a firmer commitment to them. Even going through the motions will help you achieve your personal best.
    • Embrace the imperfect – The desire for perfection may intimidate you into inaction. Acknowledging imperfect work is a first step to easing the stress that keeps you from starting at all. “Settle for good enough;” you can always improve your output later.

5. “There Will Always Be More to Do”

“Successful people take immediate action on almost every item they encounter. They know that to be efficient, they want to expend the least possible amount of time and mental energy processing things.”

6. “Always Carry a Notebook”

Some of the world’s most famous billionaires, including Sir Richard Branson, attribute their success to keeping a notebook handy. Jotting down stray thoughts, meeting notes and great ideas create indelible impressions, both on paper and in your mind. Research shows the brain uses several intertwined functions to process handwritten information. This results in more active, accurate recall than typing. Once you capture your ideas, notes, or lessons on paper, transfer them to a computer for permanent future reference. Date your notebooks so you can refer back to them.

7. “Control Your Inbox”

A survey by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that office workers spend up to one-third of their days reading and replying to emails. Be aware that “email is a great way for other people to put their priorities into your life.” Use the “321-Zero” system to keep email in its place: Three times a day, spend 21 minutes reviewing your messages. Your goal is an inbox with no new mail.

8. “Schedule and Attend Meetings as a Last Resort”

Eliminating formal meetings can save everyone wasted time. Don’t set up or go to meetings unless “all other forms of communication won’t work.” Many entrepreneurs use a brief daily huddle as a more efficient, informative, and unifying way to get their team moving.

9. “Say No to Everything that Doesn’t Support Your Immediate Goals”

Very successful people say no to almost everything. They realise that each commitment of their time may result in the loss of other opportunities. They protect their most valuable asset, time, from any request that doesn’t further their long-term priorities.

10. Follow the “Powerful Pareto Principle”

The Pareto principle holds that 20% of your effort accounts for 80% of your results. Aspiring billionaires apply this economic principle to identify the most efficient ways to deploy their exceptional skills or to complete important tasks. Use this principle to identify the 20% of your activities that will provide 80% of the reward for your efforts.

11. Focus on “Your Unique Strengths and Passions”

A CEO who regularly delegates to trustworthy employees gains more energy and productivity and suffers less stress. Outsourcing easier chores free up time and mental energy to concentrate on meaningful goals and high return projects.

“People who actively look for things to delegate report higher levels of productivity, happiness, and energy.”

12. “Batch Your Work with Recurring Themes”

Innovative entrepreneurs assign themes to their office days so their employees can concentrate on one specific type of work. Scheduled weekly and monthly themes can include “meeting” days for one-on-one discussions, team gatherings, or group training seminars. Other themes include “focus days” to concentrate on certain crucial tasks and “buffer days” for catching up.

13. If You Can Do a Task in “Less Than Five Minute, Do It Immediately”

Top achievers seek an immediate return on their time. To expedite incoming work, they enforce a “touch it once” principle:

  • Handle email immediately – Delegate as much of it as you can. Complete instantly anything you can handle in just a few minutes. If you can’t resolve an email request quickly, add it to your calendar.
  • Update your calendar as needed – Move time-consuming tasks from email to your calendar as a reminder to act on them as soon as possible. Create weekly time blocks to deal with routine tasks, such as paying bills.
  • Constantly clear clutter – Be mindful of time wasted searching for mislaid items. Maintain order in your surroundings. A messy environment can cause stress.

14. Routinely Use Early Mornings to “Strengthen Your Mind, Body, and Spirit”

Most entrepreneurs embrace a morning routine to re-energize physically and mentally. They recharge with plenty of water, healthy food, and exercise.

15. “Productivity Is About Energy and Focus, Not Time”

Hard workers make room in their schedules for relaxation. Spending more time on work doesn’t guarantee more or better results. Maintaining maximum energy levels and working in short spurts aids productivity. Successful people build the energy and focus to make each minute count


Laura Mariani

Laura Mariani

Best Selling Author, Speaker, Change & Transformation Expert


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