“Well, first off, money and power doesn’t mean your shit doesn’t stink. More importantly, the only thing separating me and the future I wanted was will. I had the talent and the ambition, all I needed was a chance. The problem is, of course, you’re rarely given that chance; more often than not you’ve got to take it. So one day, on my knees cleaning up where some idiot had missed with his piss, I did.” -Matthew Kellog, Continuum: Split Second

Principles of Time Management and Goal Setting Are Still Relevant Today

Two nights ago, I was digging through a box of old junk, searching for an item for a Dale Carnegie class starting this month. While doing so, I came across my personal copy of SuperSelf – Doubling Your Personal Effectiveness, a book by Charles Givens published back in 1993.

As I thumbed through the pages and perused the content, I could easily identify all of the points I had considered important back then by the marked up pages, the notes in the sidelines and the highlighted text. Some of what I had identified back then seems to be common knowledge in today’s environment. Some of it, however, just seemed irrelevant for the times that we live in now and the information we have concerning human behavior and performance development.

Nevertheless, I was amazed at some of Givens’ insights and the observations on personal effectiveness and how they are still at play today.

Time Management – The Essentials

Here’s an example. In his book, Givens wrote about time management strategies. Hey, it’s your life and your time. Why not take control of it. But to do that, you need to first know what you are currently doing with the time you have.

Givens started with the basic assumption that everyone has the same number of hours per week, 24 hours a day for 7 days, giving 168 hours a week.

He then starts subtracting time for the necessary activities. For example, he assumes that the average person sleeps 8 hours a night. Personally, I think that number is way too high, but let’s say it’s right for now. So extract 56 hours from that 168 hours. That leaves you with 112 hours in your week where we can do stuff.

Then he estimates that the average person takes about an hour in the morning to get prepped for the day. That is from the time the opportunity clock goes off to the time you get your body out the door. Naturally, people with children will need a little more time. But for the sake of argument, let’s hold to an hour to shower, shave, brush the teeth, comb the hair, get dressed, eat breakfast and find the keys.

He also assumes that the average person will take about 30 minutes to rewind the process at the end of the day before going to bed. That amounts to 1.5 hours for 7 days, or 10.5 hours out of the week.

If we take out those 10.5 hours, we are left with 101.5 hours out of the week.

Time Management Review – Let’s Go To Work

Then there is the commute to and from work. Givens assigns 45 minutes to a one way trip or 1.5 hours round trip for 5 days during the week. If you live in California, that commute can be upwards of 2 hours… one way!

I once did some work for a guy who lived in the Central Valley. He commuted 3 hours one way every day into the Bay Area. Why? Because the Central Valley was the only place he could find a reasonably priced house.

Anyway, 1.5 hours for 5 days amounts to 7.5 hours out of our week leaving 94 hours.

Then there is the actual work.

Givens assumes an 8-hour workday with an hour for lunch for 5 days or 45 hours out of our week (again, a number that is way low) leaving us with 49 hours to use.

Then he assumes that the average person will spend about an hour every day eating dinner for 7 days. Obviously, the man never heard of the Happy Meal or Dashboard Dining. But let’s go with it and remove another 7 hours for dinner. That leaves us with 42 hours (less than 2 days) in our entire week to devote to the other stuff in life like:

  • Our significant others
  • Our children (Oh Happy Meal, wherefore art thou?)
  • Television
  • Hobbies and personal interests
  • Exercise (Happy Meals do not help out here)
  • House cleaning, yard work, home maintenance, laundry, and the honey-do list
  • Time for our friends
  • Extra errands

And we haven’t even included the things that are really, really important to us like our personal dreams, goals and personal improvement.

Secret to Time Management and Goal Setting – Doing Work That Matters

As I looked his analysis, the fact fact that we devote 45 hours of the week to work stuck out.

Givens’ wrote his book back in the early 90s when we were just coming out of the money-centric 80s. The dominant mindset back then could be characterized by the movie “Wall Street” with Gordon Gecko as the symbol of our philosophy of success: Money is everything and win at all costs.

People worked because they wanted money. And they worked for money so that they could have the time and freedom to do what they wanted, and the power and recognition that came along with it. The focus was definitely on getting a “good” job and moving up the corporate ladder.

However, most of the people who lived through that era eventually woke up from that dream and found that their ladder of success they were so busy climbing was leaning up against the wrong wall. They got what they were striving for, but when the actually got it, they discovered that it wasn’t what they wanted, and they didn’t enjoy the journey in getting it.

I know many people who woke up one morning and walked away from six figure incomes because they felt empty and unfulfilled. And they hated the person they had become.

Now, what if that 45 hours you spend working for money is actually spent doing something that you enjoy but they pay you to do it? What if you were learning something and doing something that was aligned with your interests, goals, dreams, and vision?

You probably wouldn’t spend your time trying to cram the rest of your life into the leftover 42 hours.

The Essence of Goal Setting Leads to Effective Time Management

Here is a suggested course of action:

Take 2 to 3 hours out of the leftover 42 hours in your week. Sit down and ask yourself:

  • Vision: What is the vision I have for the rest of my life?
  • Accomplishments: What do I want to achieve in the time I have left in this world?Check out the link here to see how we help participants leverage their past achievements to support their future endeavors in the Dale Carnegie Course here.
  • Existential: What do I want to do, be and have?
  • Resources: How can I use my resources to make it happen?
  • Goals: What goals do I have to accomplish to bring my life closer to the vision I have of myself?

Once you have identified what’s important to you, you’ll find your other resources aligned to assist you in reaching those targets.

You can’t steal too much time from the 56 hours you need to sleep. Studies have shown that doing so can shorten your lifespan. But you can align those 45 work hours in such a way to support your life choices.

Remember, it’s your life. Live it the way you want. Live it to the max.