How To Become A Time Multiplier
How to get the most out of your time by asking some core questions when looking at your to-do list.
One of the most important aspects to my morning routine is to take my phone and jot down the tasks I’d like to accomplish over the day.
It’s these daily tasks that help me to build the habits that I want to be building and give me a sense of direction for how I want the day to develop.
What I create is essentially a to-do list and many individuals out there believe that to-do lists are a waste of time. I can understand where they are coming from as to-do lists can be sources of great stress, waste your time, and provide no benefit whatsoever.
And what I’ve found over the years of making to-do lists and building this habit is that it depends on your perspective.
To do lists can be a great source of stress if you pile on task after task on it and expect yourself to finish it all in a day.
To do lists waste your time if you write everything down, but provide no active steps to take to perform the task.
And they don’t provide any benefits if you don’t know how to use them properly.
I’ve shared some strategies before to building a proper to-do list, but today I’d like to focus more on the quality of what you place on to-do lists.
The reason is that based on the quality of the tasks that you set, you can save yourself a tremendous amount of time. In a sense, you can become what some leadership consultants call “a time multiplier.”
It’s a group of people that don’t literally multiply time, but rather find the answer to a powerful question:
“What can I do today to make tomorrow better?”
Their goal is essentially that. Finding ways to sink time into something now and getting rewarded tomorrow or ideally for long periods of time. An example of this is setting up online billing.
For the sake of argument let’s say it’ll take two hours total to set online billing and payment for every bill you get. To the average person, they’ll push this off, using their time to prioritize paying the bill themselves and not bother learning this. To a time multiplier, they look at how long it takes them to pay all their bills manually — say 30 minutes every month — and realize that by sinking these two hours now, they’ll save 30 minutes every month. Meaning that in four months, they’ll have broken even time-wise by going through this process today.
To a time multiplier, there is a deeper significance to the tasks that are placed on a list or that they assign themselves mentally. And these tasks are tailored based off of some core questions that a time multiplier asks themselves.
Can I Eliminate This Task?
“The more things we say no to today creates more time for us tomorrow.”
So many of us run into the situation where we take tasks on that are completely unnecessary. Often times these tasks are things we do so we don’t disappoint people.
In order to become a multiplier, you need to realize that saying yes to one thing means saying no to an infinite number of other opportunities. Which means that it’s essential that we are saying yes to the right kind of things.
It’s why today whenever someone pitches something to me, if it’s completely unrelated to what I’m doing right now, I’ll say no. Because I know that I won’t do it and eventually eliminate the task from my to-do list. It saves me the stress from feeling like I need to try, but it also saves me time as well. Time that I can use to focus on the things that do matter to me and are relevant to my work.
If I Can’t Eliminate It, Can I Automate It?
There are tasks, commitments, and obligations that we have that we simply can’t remove. But that doesn’t mean that all of them have to be done manually.
We all have bills to pay, but today it’s easy for us to conveniently set up auto payment plans. This is a great example and one of the most basic tactics multipliers use.
But you can go a step farther with it.
Say you have an animal around the house and every week or month you buy a massive bag of food for them. Instead of taking time out of your day once a month to buy the food, why not order it online and have it shipped to you automatically?
Or maybe you have regular check-ups with doctors, physicians, or dentists so why not book appointments after your appointment is over or book several appointments right there?
It’s these tiny things that save you the struggle of calling up or having to take an extra step. Again it follows the principle of doing things today and improving your quality of life in the future.
Can It Be Delegated, Or Can I Teach Someone To Do It?
Assigning things that you don’t want to do. It’s a great way of saving time and is something that multipliers embrace.
They realize that while delegating the task to someone else, the quality of the work can be lower than what they have done in the past. But they feel it’s necessary as quality does get picked up once someone gets the hang of the task. It pays off in a big way on the long-term.
By extension, multipliers also embrace paying those individuals. It’s not out of the ordinary for businesses to outsource work to freelancers who can provide a variety of services. Furthermore, many companies have built platforms to make delegation easier or even performing tasks easier as well.
Should I Do This Task Now, Or Can I Do This Later?
The final question is an odd one because it’s implying procrastination. But to a time multiplier, this question is more of a “procrastination on purpose.” A multiplier isn’t delaying this task until the last possible moment, but rather procrastinating the task and not letting it slip through the cracks.
There is a difference between waiting to do something we know we need to do and waiting to do something because now isn’t the right time.
By procrastinating on purpose, we allow ourselves to go back through the previous three questions. We determine whether we can delegate, automate, or eliminate it. Or we may need more time to realize the gravity of the task and that urge to complete it will hit us, compelling us to do the task.
It’s these four questions that are essential to a multiplier. And to become one is merely embracing these questions. By asking these particular questions, we’re setting ourselves up for a better tomorrow. By sinking more time into something today, we could save ourselves hours or even days in the long-term just because we decided to ask these questions.