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The key points of '15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs By Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse's book, '15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management,' delves into the productivity strategies of some of the world's most accomplished individuals. Drawing from the habits of billionaires, Olympic athletes, top students, and entrepreneurs, Kruse unveils actionable insights for mastering one's time. In this article, we will distill the essence of Kruse's findings into key points that encapsulate the core principles of effective time management.

Key Takeaways

  • Time should be treated as a precious, non-renewable resource, and used judiciously to pursue one's most critical goals.

  • Prioritizing tasks is crucial; tackle the most important task first to ensure progress on essential objectives.

  • A calendar-centric approach to scheduling tasks is more effective than a traditional to-do list, as it commits specific times to specific activities.

  • Understanding that procrastination is emotionally driven can help in developing strategies to overcome it and maintain productivity.

  • Recognizing the impossibility of completing every task allows for a more realistic and focused approach to work that emphasizes quality over quantity.

1. Time is Your Most Valuable and Scarce Resource

Understanding that time is finite is crucial for achieving productivity. Unlike money, which can be earned, saved, and invested, time once spent, is gone forever. This realization compels us to be more judicious with how we allocate our hours.

  • Prioritize tasks that align with your goals

  • Avoid time-wasters and distractions

  • Reflect on your daily activities to ensure time well spent

Recognize that to achieve success requires not only hard work but also a strategic approach to managing your time. Embrace learning and set clear goals, while balancing patience with a sense of urgency in your pursuit.

2. Identify Your Most Important Task and Do It First

Start your day by tackling the most significant and challenging task. This concept, often referred to as 'eating the frog,' ensures that you accomplish what truly matters. Prioritize tasks that have the greatest impact on your goals and productivity.

  • List your daily tasks

  • Mark the most important one

  • Allocate uninterrupted time to complete it

Remember, the key is not to work more, but to work smarter. Completing your most important task first sets the tone for a productive day.

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

Transitioning from a to-do list to a calendar-driven approach can significantly enhance your productivity. Use your calendar as your primary time management tool, not just for appointments, but for scheduling dedicated time blocks for your most critical tasks. This method ensures that you allocate time for your priorities rather than letting them get lost in a list.

Calendars provide a visual representation of how your time is allocated, making it easier to see when you're overcommitting or have available slots to tackle important work. Here's a simple way to start:

  • Determine your priorities for the week.

  • Block out time for these priorities on your calendar.

  • Treat these time blocks as non-negotiable appointments with yourself.

  • Adjust and review your calendar daily to stay on track.

4. Procrastination is Driven by Emotion

Understanding that procrastination is not a time management issue but an emotional one is crucial. It's often a response to anxiety, fear of failure, or negative perfectionism. Recognizing the emotions behind procrastination can be the first step towards overcoming it.

  • Identify the emotion causing the delay.

  • Acknowledge the discomfort it brings.

  • Take small steps to begin the task.

5. Accept That There is Always More to Do

In the relentless pursuit of productivity, it's crucial to acknowledge a simple truth: there is always more to do. This realization shouldn't be a source of stress, but rather a guiding principle to prioritize effectively. Accepting that your to-do list is never-ending allows you to focus on what's truly important.

Prioritization is key in managing the infinite tasks that demand your attention. Instead of striving for the impossible feat of completing everything, aim to complete the right things. Here are a few strategies to help you prioritize:

  • Determine your high-impact activities

  • Set clear goals for each day

  • Recognize tasks that can be delegated or postponed

6. Make Your Minutes Matter

In the realm of time management, it's not just the hours that count, but the minutes. Every minute counts when you're aiming to be productive. To truly make your minutes matter, consider the following strategies:

  • Prioritize tasks by urgency and importance.

  • Set specific, achievable goals for each work session.

  • Use a timer to create a sense of urgency and focus.

Remember, time is a non-renewable resource. Making the most of it requires a deliberate approach. Start by identifying time-wasters and eliminate them from your routine. Then, establish a system that encourages you to stay on track. For instance, starting early with investments in your time can lead to significant gains, much like the principle of compounding in finance. Building a habit of saving minutes, through goal setting, automation, and tracking your activities, can ensure you're always investing in your most valuable asset—time. An 'emergency fund' of extra time can also provide security when unexpected tasks arise.

7. There's a Difference Between Being Busy and Being Productive

In the whirlwind of daily tasks, it's easy to confuse motion with progress. Being busy often involves reacting to immediate demands, while being productive means strategically moving towards your goals. To ensure productivity, one must strategically prioritize tasks based on their importance and impact.

  • Use the ABCDE method to categorize tasks.

  • Apply the Law of Three to focus on three things you value most.

  • Embrace the 80/20 Rule to concentrate on tasks that yield the most significant results.

By focusing on key result areas and maximizing personal powers, you can transform busy work into meaningful productivity. Remember, it's not the number of tasks completed but the progress towards your goals that truly counts.

8. Time Blocking is Essential

Time blocking is a powerful technique to enhance productivity by carving out specific periods in your day dedicated solely to one task or group of tasks. By creating uninterrupted time blocks, you develop a sense of urgency and the ability to focus deeply, which is crucial for tackling complex or high-value work.

To effectively implement time blocking, consider the following steps:

  • Identify your most important tasks.

  • Estimate the time required for each task.

  • Schedule blocks of time in your calendar.

  • Minimize distractions during these blocks.

  • Review and adjust your time blocks as needed to improve efficiency.

9. Master Your Email Inbox

In the digital age, your email inbox can either be a tool for productivity or a source of endless distraction. Mastering your email inbox is crucial to ensure it serves your workflow, not disrupts it. One effective strategy is to triage your emails as they come in, categorizing them by urgency and relevance.

  • Immediate action: Emails that require a quick response or action.

  • Defer: Emails that are important but not urgent, to be scheduled for later.

  • Archive/Delete: Irrelevant or non-actionable emails that clutter your inbox.

Remember, an unmanaged inbox is a productivity pitfall. Regularly cleaning and organizing your emails will save you time and help you stay on top of your tasks. Make it a habit to review and sort your emails at dedicated times throughout the day to avoid constant interruptions.

10. Say No to Everything That Doesn't Support Your Immediate Goals

In the pursuit of productivity, it's crucial to focus on what truly matters. This means learning to say no to tasks, opportunities, and sometimes even people that don't align with your immediate goals. By doing so, you ensure that your time and energy are invested in the highest-impact activities.

  • Evaluate every request or opportunity against your immediate goals.

  • Politely decline anything that doesn't contribute to these goals.

  • Redirect your resources to high-priority tasks.

By adopting this selective approach, you can channel your efforts into achieving success and work with intensity towards your vision. It's not just about being busy; it's about being productive in the direction of your passions and challenges.

11. Outsource Personal Tasks

In the pursuit of productivity, successful individuals recognize the value of their time and choose to outsource personal tasks. Delegating mundane activities can free up significant hours for tasks that align more closely with one's goals and expertise.

  • Hire a cleaning service for home maintenance.

  • Use a meal delivery service to save time on cooking.

  • Employ a virtual assistant for scheduling and administrative tasks.

Remember, the goal is not to eliminate personal responsibilities but to optimize the time spent on them. Evaluate which tasks are worth your time and which can be efficiently handled by others.

12. Optimize Time for Different Types of Work

Understanding that not all work is created equal is crucial for peak productivity. Different tasks require different levels of concentration and cognitive effort. For instance, deep work tasks such as writing or coding demand uninterrupted focus and should be scheduled during times when you're most alert. On the other hand, shallow work tasks like checking emails or administrative duties can be done when your energy levels are lower.

Setting clear goals and priorities is essential to distinguish between deep and shallow work. By doing so, you can allocate your time more effectively and ensure that you're working on the right things at the right time. Here's a simple way to categorize your tasks:

  • Deep Work: Requires high focus and is often complex

  • Shallow Work: Less intensive and can be performed while multitasking

Remember, it's not just about working harder, but also about working smarter. By optimizing your time for different types of work, you can achieve a better work-life balance and overcome procrastination.

13. Beat Procrastination with Time Travel

Overcoming procrastination can feel like an uphill battle, but visualizing the future can be a powerful motivator. This technique, known as time travel, involves imagining the consequences of not completing tasks and the rewards of finishing them. By projecting yourself into the future, you can create a sense of urgency that propels you into action.

  • Envision the negative outcomes of procrastination.

  • Picture the satisfaction and benefits of task completion.

  • Use these visualizations to fuel your motivation.

Remember, the key is not just to imagine the future, but to let that vision drive your present actions. Make your decisions today as if you're already experiencing the future benefits or consequences of those actions.

14. Set and Maintain Personal Boundaries

In the pursuit of productivity, it's crucial to set and maintain personal boundaries. These boundaries protect your time, energy, and focus, ensuring that you can dedicate yourself fully to your most important tasks. Without clear boundaries, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the demands of others and lose sight of your own goals.

Boundaries are not just about saying no; they're about recognizing your limits and communicating them effectively. Here are some tips for establishing personal boundaries:

  • Define what is non-negotiable in your schedule.

  • Communicate your boundaries clearly to colleagues, friends, and family.

  • Be consistent in enforcing your boundaries.

  • Allow for flexibility when necessary, but don't compromise your core needs.

Remember, entrepreneurial success is not just about hard work; it's about working smart and making sure that every minute counts. By setting boundaries, you ensure that your time is spent on activities that align with your core competencies and drive you towards your goals.

15. Focus on Results, Not Time Spent

In the pursuit of productivity, it's easy to fall into the trap of measuring success by the hours put in, rather than the outcomes achieved. Focus on the value of the results you produce, not just the time it takes to produce them. This shift in mindset encourages efficiency and prioritizes high-impact tasks.

Results-oriented thinking aligns with the philosophy of working smarter, not harder. It's about making every minute count and ensuring that effort translates into meaningful progress. Here are a few strategies to help you focus on results:

  • Define clear, measurable goals.

  • Prioritize tasks based on impact, not effort.

  • Set deadlines to create urgency and focus.

  • Regularly review outcomes to adjust strategies as needed.

16. Batch Process Work for Increased Productivity

Batch processing is a time management technique that involves grouping similar tasks together to be completed in a dedicated time block. This approach minimizes the start-stop-start pattern that can waste time and sap energy. By focusing on one type of task at a time, productivity skyrockets.

Batching allows for deeper focus and reduces the mental load of switching between different types of work. It's particularly effective for repetitive tasks that require similar resources or processes. Here's how you can implement batch processing in your daily routine:

  • Group similar tasks together.

  • Allocate specific time blocks for these batches.

  • Minimize interruptions during these periods.

  • Review and adjust the batches as needed for efficiency.

Remember to avoid multitasking when batch processing, as it can dilute your focus and reduce the quality of your work. Instead, set clear goals for each batch and prioritize tasks within them to ensure you're making the best use of your time.

17. Start Your Day with a Morning Routine

Establishing a morning routine is a common thread among highly successful individuals. Starting your day with intention sets a productive tone for the hours that follow. A structured start can lead to improved focus and better time management throughout the day.

Consistency is key when it comes to a morning routine. It's not just about the activities you choose to include, but also about sticking to them day after day. This regularity helps to cement habits that contribute to your overall success.

Here are a few components that many find beneficial to include in their morning routine:

  • Meditation or mindfulness practice

  • Physical exercise

  • Reading or learning something new

  • Planning the day's most important tasks

Remember, the goal is not to fill your morning with tasks, but rather to engage in a few, purposeful activities that energize and motivate you for the day ahead.

18. Energy Management is as Important as Time Management

While time management is crucial for productivity, energy management is equally vital. Just as you plan your day with a calendar, consider planning your energy by identifying when you are most alert and capable of tackling demanding tasks.

Energy ebbs and flows throughout the day, and aligning your work with these natural rhythms can lead to more effortless productivity. For instance, if you're a morning person, schedule your most challenging work during the early hours. Conversely, if you find your stride later in the day, save complex tasks for the afternoon or evening.

Here are some strategies to manage your energy effectively:

  • Prioritize tasks using the ABCDE method, focusing first on those that are most important.

  • Set clear and achievable SMART goals to maintain motivation and direction.

  • Break down large projects into incremental steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  • Avoid multitasking, as it can drain energy and reduce overall productivity.

19. Utilize Systems and Habits to Automate Success

In the pursuit of success, consistency is key. Developing systems and habits that promote efficiency can lead to automation of success. By establishing routines, you can minimize the need for constant decision-making and focus your energy on high-impact activities.

Automation in this context doesn't mean relying on technology alone; it's about creating a reliable framework for your daily operations. This can include simple habits like organizing your workspace at the end of each day or more complex systems like a weekly review of goals and accomplishments.

  • Identify repetitive tasks

  • Create standard operating procedures (SOPs)

  • Set triggers for habitual behaviors

20. Use a Notebook

In the digital age, the power of writing things down in a physical notebook cannot be overstated. Keeping a notebook encourages retention and organization of thoughts, which is crucial for productivity. It serves as a tangible record of your ideas, tasks, and reflections that can be revisited anytime.

  • Jot down ideas as they come

  • Track progress on tasks and goals

  • Reflect on daily learnings and experiences

While apps and digital tools are useful, they can also be distracting. A notebook is a focused space where the mind can roam freely without the interruption of notifications and digital clutter.

21. Schedule and Attend Meetings as a Last Resort

Meetings can be significant time sinks with minimal productivity gains. Prioritize tasks over meetings and consider if a meeting can be replaced with an email, a quick call, or a shared document update. When meetings are unavoidable, ensure they are necessary and have a clear agenda.

  • Only schedule meetings with a defined purpose and outcome.

  • Limit the number of attendees to those essential for the topic.

  • Set a strict time limit and stick to it.

Remember, every hour spent in a meeting is an hour not spent on your most important work. Use meetings sparingly to maximize your productivity and focus on achieving your goals.

22. Say No to the Unimportant

Mastering the art of refusal is a cornerstone of effective time management. Saying no to non-essential tasks allows you to focus on what truly matters. It's not just about declining invitations or requests; it's about recognizing the distractions that do not align with your priorities.

  • Evaluate the importance of each request

  • Consider if it aligns with your goals

  • Politely decline non-essential tasks

Remember, every 'yes' to something unimportant is a 'no' to something important. Use your discretion to filter out the noise and stay on track with your objectives.

23. Check Email on a Schedule

In the age of constant digital communication, it's easy to fall into the trap of checking your email compulsively. Limiting email checks to specific times can drastically improve focus and productivity. By scheduling email time, you avoid the disruption of your workflow and maintain momentum on more critical tasks.

  • Determine the times you'll check email, such as mid-morning, after lunch, and late afternoon.

  • Stick to these times religiously to create a routine.

  • Use tools or settings to silence email notifications outside of these times.

Remember, the goal is to control your inbox, not let it control you. Make the conscious decision to check emails on a schedule and watch your productivity soar.

24. Avoid Multitasking

In the pursuit of efficiency, many fall into the trap of multitasking. However, studies show that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. It's essential to understand that our brains are not wired to handle multiple tasks with high efficiency. When we split our attention, we're not actually doing things simultaneously; we're quickly switching between tasks, which leads to a cognitive load that hampers performance.

  • Focus on one task at a time to ensure quality and efficiency.

  • Minimize distractions to maintain a deep focus.

  • Prioritize tasks and tackle them sequentially rather than concurrently.

25. End Your Day with a Planning Session

Ending your day with a planning session is a powerful way to ensure that you're ready for the challenges of the next day. Prepare a to-do list for the following day to clear your mind and prioritize tasks. This practice can lead to a more restful night's sleep, knowing that you have a plan in place.

Reflection on the day's accomplishments and setbacks is also crucial. It allows you to adjust your strategies and maintain a continuous improvement mindset. Consider the following points during your end-of-day review:

  • What tasks were completed successfully?

  • Where did I encounter obstacles?

  • How can I optimize my workflow?

Remember, the goal is not to script every moment but to provide structure and direction. This nightly ritual can transform your productivity and peace of mind.


In summary, '15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management' by Kevin Kruse offers invaluable insights into the productivity strategies of some of the world's most accomplished individuals. From billionaires to Olympic athletes, the book distills the essence of time management into actionable habits that can be adopted by anyone seeking to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. By understanding and implementing these principles, readers can not only enhance their personal productivity but also gain a greater sense of control over their time, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life. Embracing these secrets may well be the first step towards joining the ranks of the highly successful people who have mastered the art of time management.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main premise of Kevin Kruse's book on time management?

The book '15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management' by Kevin Kruse explores the productivity habits and time management strategies used by highly successful individuals, including billionaires, Olympic athletes, students, and entrepreneurs.

Why does the book emphasize time as a scarce resource?

Time is considered the most valuable and scarce resource because it is finite and irreplaceable. Successful people understand this and strive to use their time effectively to achieve their goals.

How can identifying the most important task improve productivity?

By identifying and completing the most important task first, you ensure that you are making progress on critical goals each day, which can lead to increased productivity and success.

What is the difference between being busy and being productive?

Being busy involves a high level of activity, but not necessarily progress towards important goals, while being productive means making significant strides in achieving meaningful objectives.

Can you explain the concept of time blocking?

Time blocking is a time management method where you allocate specific blocks of time to particular tasks or activities, minimizing distractions and enhancing focus on the task at hand.

Why is energy management mentioned alongside time management?

Energy management is crucial because your productivity is not just about the time you have but also the energy you can dedicate to tasks. Balancing both time and energy ensures that you can work effectively during your most productive hours.

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