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Article jedi_time_management

Published on June 6th, 2013 | by Dan Walsh


Jedi Time Management

If you’ve ever gotten to the end of your day, week, month, or year, and felt depressed by a lack of accomplishment, you’re not alone. That “where did they day go?!” feeling is too common. I think most of us start the day off with the best intentions, but  “stuff” gets in the way.

I am a big proponent of to-do lists as a way to facilitate accomplishing priorities, but my lists often balloon into pages and pages of wishful thinking. There’s no way I can get everything done in a day, or even a week! So, I’m always interested in ways to save time and become more productive. I find most “solutions” to be gimmicky or obvious like “don’t watch tv”, but Oliver Emberton presents an easy (and Star Wars themed!) way to organize and prioritize all of those items that really need to get done, and save time in the process.

The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.

In many ways it is obvious advice, “do the most important thing first,” but it is always too easy to get distracted by tasks that are noisy and urgent. Paradoxically, urgent items aren’t often important and important items aren’t often urgent. This leads to that crushing feeling of not accomplishing anything, despite noble aspirations, and despite a lot of spent energy. False priorities, unwanted social obligations, and chores get in the way of growing a side business, learning an instrument, becoming fluent in a language, traveling, writing that novel, or finishing a pet project.

Go read Emberton’s article – it’s quick – and then come back here and tell me what is your number one personal priority.

Read: How To Master Your Time, by Oliver Emberton

Images Copyright Oliver Emberton


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About the Author

I enjoy sharing thought-provoking articles, videos, and tools.

9 Responses to Jedi Time Management

  1. I like the newly discovered “Do Not Disturb” button on my iPhone. I see no reason to ever turn it off. No more buzzes and beeps!

    My priority right now is learning about MRI scans. What makes it fun when discussing time management as I just started learning about MRIs last week. So if anything pops up as “urgent”, it has NOTHING to do with my priority (learning about MRIs). Makes it easy to look back at the end of the day and see where my time went (today I did 0 stuff on MRIs).


    • Dan Walsh says:

      Simplicity at it’s finest! What a great way to measure your effectiveness for the week. Very Peter Thiel of you.

      What’s your MRI score for the week?

      • High score this week, I think I did MRI for 3 days.

        Interesting article. My work experience taught me that when you REALLY push on one single thing anything is possible.

        But now I’m working in a completely new style. Working on a couple different things, with an extremely relaxed schedule, and I’m not so sure

        Spend 100% of your time on 1 thing: Breakthroughs
        Spend 100% of your time on 3 different things: Things plod along
        Spend 20% of your time on 3 things, and 80% of your time doing nothing: Mini Breakthroughs all the time? Maybe it just seems like great progress because I’m spending so little time on them. Or maybe it’s some Chicken Fried Zen Power.


        • Dan Walsh says:

          In my experience, there is a balance. Too much time on one single thing can produce great results, but also lead to burnout.

          I think the sweet spot is one main project and a side project. The side project has no pressure and can be a great thing to work on when you feel blocked on the main project.

  2. Angelica says:

    Argh I am all too familiar with starting the day with the best of intentions. Right now I have 3 priorities: passing an analytics test (fairly urgent, but also most important), writing (important, not at all urgent) and the never-ending “get more toned.” I’m utilizing 2 of the Jedi tricks: scheduling these priorities on my calendar and saying no. The latter is pretty difficult for me, but it helps to remember that time is the most valuable thing you have and that it is okay to set boundaries in your social life – true friends will understand.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      It’s the best when the important items are also the urgent items. That’s a guarantee they’ll be accomplished. I stole this trick from Tim Ferriss, but the best way to make an important item urgent is to create deadlines. For example: If I wanted to be consistent about publishing content to a blog, I would setup a monthly newsletter to keep me on track. ;)

      Think about how motivated people get to drop a few pounds if they have a reunion coming up or are going on a vacation involving swimsuits.

      • I’ve been pretty fantastic at getting shit done. Making deadlines, staying on task, getting things done so I can have fun, things like that #brushyourshouldersoff

        BUT I tried a different approach these past couple months, avoiding all my normal tricks to get things done. A few weeks ago I did a blog post and made myself a deadline: “I’ll finish this by noon”. I could just *feel* my body tense up relative to being extra relaxed. It was crazy. Still trying to figure out what that means. Sill avoiding deadlines.


        PS Do you get an email when someone posts on your blog?

  3. Angelica says:

    Now I’ve gotten all distracted by the non-urgent, non-important task of looking up inspirational quotes about time management, but here’s one I thought I’d share:

    “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
    ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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