The Currency of Success

The Currency of Success: Achieve More with Effective Time Management Strategies

Effective time-management plays a big role in maintaining and sustaining your overall effectiveness.

It does this by following The Effectiveness Equation—E = MC²—by increaseing your capability and capacity to function well..

On the other hand, poor poor time-management decreases your capability and capacity to function well, and thus your effectiveness.

For instance, if you are a poor time-manager you will ignore or miss the chance to invest the time to learn new skills (capability) or to improve your productivity (capacity).

In the work environment, failure to increase your capability and capacity may result in opportunities for career advancement passing you by.

Furthermore, in the relentless pursuit of success, it’s easy to overlook the toll that poor time management can take on your well-being.

Chronic stress, caused by the never-ending pressure to meet deadlines and juggle multiple responsibilities, can erode your physical and mental health.

Time-management isn’t just about clock-watching or creating endless to-do lists; it’s a fundamental skill that enables you to maximise your productivity, reduce stress, tackle unforeseen challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve your goals with greater efficiency.

Good time-management is therefore a good way to improve your overall effectiveness and success.

The Flea Circus

The Currency of Success

In my book, The Flea Circus, I discuss how time is an invaluable and finite resource that we all share, regardless of our backgrounds, professions, or age.

How you manage this resource can significantly impact every area of your life.

We are inundated with demands and distractions almost every minute of the day, so the ability to master time-management is a defining factor that sets high-achievers apart from the rest.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but successful people manage their time more effectively than those who are less successful.

In our professional lives, for instance, time-management is the cornerstone of productivity.

It’s the mechanism with which you allocate your time with good care, ensuring that the most critical tasks and objectives are given the attention they deserve.

Whether you’re a top executive, an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or a student, your effectiveness hinges on how well you can make the most of your hours and minutes.

Time is often referred to as the ‘currency of success.’

This is because time is a finite and diminishing asset, which makes it extraordinarily valuable.

Like any currency, what you invest your time in grows and appreciates.

Which is why time is best appreciated as an investment and not an expenditure.

It is also why you shouldn’t spend time to save money; you should rather spend money to save time.

Then use that time you have ‘saved’ to invest in the things that make your life more fulfilling and meaningful.

As Thomas Edison, inventor and founder of General Electric, is often quoted as saying,

Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.

Yet the flow of time is beyond anyone’s control; irrespective of anything you do, time keeps ticking.

What you can control, however, is how you manage yourself in the time that you have.

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So the best time-managers are the best self-managers.

But time-management is not limited to boardroom meetings and project deadlines; it extends to your personal life as well.

Effective time-management directly impacts the quality of your personal relationships, your physical and mental well-being, and the pursuit of your passions and interests.

The balance between personal and professional life is a constant challenge, and successful individuals recognise that optimising their time enables them to excel in both worlds.

That’s the true currency of success.

Time-Management Strategies

Although there are many time-management strategies (and hence, self-management strategies), we will discuss the top four strategies that I believe have the most impact on how you can best manage your time.

These four strategies are best remembered as TIME:

T: Time Audit

I: Itemise the Day

M: Most Important Tasks

E: Exclude Non-Essentials

We will discuss these time-management strategies first and then briefly list some time-management tools that will help you to implement these strategies.

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T: Time-Audit

As Thomas Edison said, time is the only thing we can’t afford to lose. Which is why we need to be mindful of our time-stealers and time-wasters and minimise any loss of time.

Effective time-managers know where their time goes. They don’t have a vague idea. They know exactly, and they actively work on eliminating their time-stealers and time-wasters.

To find out where you are spending your time, a good idea is to keep a time log for 2-4 days, including at least one weekend day and one week day. The results will surprise you.

So let’s not waste time. Begin your time audit now with what you have been doing up until this moment, and then continue the audit tonight and tomorrow.

You are invited to download a free 24-hour Time Audit PDF from my website to help you identify time-stealers and time-wasters and better manage your time.

Keeping track of your time with a time log is an important first step in identifying where you might be losing time.

The second step is to eliminate any time-stealers and time-wasters that have been flagged in your time log.

The best way to do this is to make a list of your personal and professional time-stealers and time-wasters:

Then identify one time-stealer or time-waster in each of your 7 Life Segments that you are committed to eliminate.

I: Itemise the Day

The second time-management strategy, Itemise the Day, involves these steps:

    1. Write down everything you need to do.
    2. Plan ahead (last thing/first thing).
    3. Number the items in order of what needs doing (first to last).
    4. Proceed with the first item until it’s completed.

Tip: Don’t over-plan the day. For instance, include in your plan some buffer time either side of your tasks so that it won’t cause undue stress if you go over time with some tasks.

Earl Nightingale, motivational speaker and author of the bestselling book and audiobook, The Strangest Secret, often made mention of what he called, ‘The $25,000 Idea’.

The story is about how a man was paid $25,000 for one single idea. Not bad for 30 minutes’ work.

Here is an adapted version of Nightingale’s story from the transcript of his audio presentation.

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The $25,000 Idea

Ivy Lee was an efficiency expert in the post-World War 2 era who offered valuable advice to the president of a small American steel company seeking improved management.

The president acknowledged gaps in his management of the company, but what he wanted from Lee wasn’t more knowledge, rather “a lot more doing” and “a better way of getting things done”.

He then added that he’d pay Lee anything he asked, within reason. So Lee promised to boost the company’s efficiency by 50% in just twenty minutes.

Lee then instructed the president to jot down the six most critical tasks for the next day and rank them by importance to him or the company.

The president was to begin with the top item, focusing solely on it until completion, and then proceed to the next.

But only when the first item was completed, not before. He was to follow this method for all six items on the list.

Lee stressed that if this method didn’t complete all tasks, no other approach would, but it would save considerable time and prioritise tasks in order of importance.

He then left, telling the president to have his people try this system for as long as he liked. Then, when the president was convinced of the value of this idea, he was to send him a cheque for whatever he thought it was worth to the company.

The interview lasted no more than 30 minutes. In a few weeks, the company’s president sent Lee a cheque for $25,000, deeming it the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.

Within five years, the company’s transformation into one of the world’s major independent steel producers was largely attributed to this simple, yet highly effective, time-management technique.

The $25,00 Idea:
Taking things one at a time in their proper order and staying with one task until its successful completion before going on to the next.

So let’s try the $25,000 idea for yourself over the next 7 days and see how effective it can be in your personal and professional life.

-> Tonight, write down the six most important things you have to do.

-> Then number them in the order of their importance.

-> Tomorrow, go to work on number 1. Continue with it untill it’s successfully completed, then move on to number 2, and so on.

-> When you’ve finished with all six, get another piece of paper and repeat the process.


Successfully handling each task to the degree of the importance of the tasks is the key, which we will elaborate on in the next time-management strategy, Most Important Tasks.

Successfully doing a lot of unnecessary things actually falls into your time-waster category.

So it’s important that the tasks you do efficiently are actually important tasks, tasks that propel you steadily toward your goal.

Tip: Remember that you do not need to worry about tomorrow or the next day, or what’s going to happen at the end of the month. You only need to focus on what you are doing now, today, in this moment.

Effectiveness is built one day at a time. Each task handled successfully will help you circumnavigate every obstacle and solve every problem.

Successful tasks make successful days.
Successful days build a successful life.

‘Itemising the Day’ is a simple but tremendously powerful idea that has the potential to remove much of the confusion in your life and bring order and effectiveness into it.

You’ll stop running around in circles wondering what to do next.

And you’ll be surprised at the speed with which you will accomplish the things that need doing, and in the order of their importance.

The Flea Circus

M: Most Important tasks

The third time-management strategy, Most Important Tasks, involves two main steps:

  1. Prioritasking—do important things first.
  2. Batching—do similar tasks together.


Motivational speaker and bestselling author of Eat that Frog!, Brian Tracy, talks of a procrastination-busting strategy whereby you do the most unpleasant thing you need to do first thing in the morning so that it’s done and you do not procrastinate throughout the day.

The strategy of ‘prioritasking’ is a similar time-management strategy whereby:

You do the most important tasks first.

Your most important task might also be your most unpleasant thing you need to do, which is the ‘horrible frog’ that Tracy says you must ‘eat first’ and get it over and done with.

But even if it isn’t, get it done as soon as you possibly can and you will be rest assured throughout the day that you have already done not only the most unpleasant task, but also the most important task.

You then have the rest of the day knowing the worst is over!

The 4 D’s Prioritasking Tool

The 4 D’s ‘prioritasking’ tool is a great time-management tool to help you prioritise tasks on the basis of urgency and importance.

It is a prioritisation matrix that highlights four quadrants within which you can prioritise tasks and demands, and thereby better manage your time.

The 4 Ds Prioritasking Matrix

The manner in which you prioritise demands to reduce stress works like this:

-> If a demand is of high urgency and high importance, you Do It.
-> If a demand is of high urgency but low importance, you Delegate It.
-> If a demand is of high importance but low urgency, you Delay It.
-> If a demand is of low importance and low urgency, you Dump It.

Using the prioritasking matrix, what are 4 tasks you can prioritask in your personal life right now? What are 4 tasks you can prioritask in your work right now?

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Batching similar tasks like phone calls, meetings, coffee ‘catch ups’, and emails is also an efficient time-management strategy.

For instance, I try to batch all my meetings on a Thursday afternoon at the same location, if possible, so that I minimise time travelling to and from meeting points and minimise waiting times to meet clients.

This strategy alone can save me 4-5 hours per week.

Now consider what tasks you can batch together in your personal life and work right now.

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E: Exclude Non-Essentials

The fourth time-management strategy, Exclude Non-Essentials, includes:

    1. Blocking out time when you’re not available to complete important tasks.
    2. Focus on one task and eliminate distractions (for example, emails, social media).
    3. 20-30 minutes per day of uni-tasking to reduce half-work and incompletions.
    4. End your workday.

#1: Block Out Time

The recent shift to increasing numbers of staff working remotely from home brings great advantages and flexibility. You don’t need to waste hundreds of hours per year commuting to and from work.

You can work during hours that best suit your natural daily rhythms and family commitments. You don’t even have to get out of your pyjamas!

But there is also a downside: distraction.

It is much easier to get distracted in the home with household chores that need doing: washing dishes, ironing, dusting, vacuuming the floors, and other things.

Not to mention the kids at home who like to interrupt your important online meetings.

Even in the workplace there are distractions: conversations that filter to you, emails that pop up while you’re at your desk computer, colleagues that interrupt, and bosses that demand your immediate attention.

A great solution to minimise distraction and interruptions is to block out periods of time (for example, 30-60 minutes) when you’re not available so that you can complete important tasks.

Now consider what times during the day can you block out when you’re not available so you can focus on important tasks.

The Flea Circus

#2: Eliminate Distractions

Another approach to exclude non-essentials is to eliminate distractions like email and social media.

You can do this by:
-> Turning off social media and/or email notifications on your mobile device or computer.
-> Allocating specific ‘social media’ time during the day when you will only catch up on your social media posts during that allocated period of time.
-> Set specific times aside to answer emails (for example, morning, last thing in the afternoon) and/or do your online shopping.

Tip: The ‘Time Audit’ is a great tool to help you understand and identify how much time you waste on social media, TV, and other distractions during your day.


#3: Uni-tasking

Most people have heard of multi-tasking, but how many have heard of uni-tasking?

Uni-tasking is the opposite of multi-tasking, whereby you focus only on one task at a time and not several.

It is an efficient time-management strategy to help exclude non-essentials. It also ties in with the time-management strategy of Itemise the Day.

Setting aside 20-30 minutes each day to uni-task is a great way to finish those half-finished or uncompleted tasks that are lingering on your desk.

William James was an American philosopher in the mid-19th Century and is considered the father of American psychology. He is the author of several books, including The Varieties of Religious Experience.

James made this statement about human nature to let things remain half-completed:

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.

Uni-tasking is a simple strategy to help you improve the habit of completion. As one attendee at my workshops said, “Uni-tasking is easy wins.”

Uni-tasking is like picking low-hanging fruit. It’s an easy way to get things completed and get through your to-do list.


#4: End Your Workday

A healthy work-life balance is essential for overall personal development and well-being.

So the last step in excluding non-essentials is to end your workday.

Do you regularly bring work home that could easily remain at the office? Do you stay up late working on projects or tasks that should be done during work hours? Are your weekends yours or do you still do work?

Sometimes it isn’t practical to end the workday immediately. Important projects and deadlines sometimes need to be met. But these are more often the exception, not the rule.

If you’re constantly bringing your work home, ask yourself:

      • Could I improve my efficiency during my work hours so that I don’t have to bring work home?
      • Are there others at work who could help me complete my tasks on time?
      • Having self-initiative and going the extra mile is important, but am I bringing work home to impress my boss or others? Do they actually notice all the extra work I’m doing at home?

M. Scott Peck was an American psychiatrist and author of the groundbreaking book, The Road Less Traveled. He said:

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

If you are habitually bringing work home, understanding the reasons why you do will help you to manage your time and end your workday more regularly.

Your family will appreciate it and your physical and mental health will benefit too.

Tip: The ‘Time Audit’ is a great tool to help you understand and identify how much time you spend after hours at home doing tasks that are best done at work.

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Time-Management Tools & TECHNIQUES


There are just as many tools for time-management as there are strategies, and there are a great many books on the subject of time-management and personal development that can help you, so we will only briefly mention some select tools and techniques.

Effectively managing your time requires the use of various planning tools, which can significantly enhance your productivity.

Here are some essential planning tools and tips to integrate into your time-management routine:

Daily To-Do Lists:

These lists help you prioritise tasks for the day, ensuring that you focus on what’s most important.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and avoid overwhelming yourself with too many tasks.

Master Lists:

Master lists serve as repositories for all your tasks and goals. You can categorise them, such as your 7 Life Segments, and use them as references when creating daily to-do lists.

Planners (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly):

Planners provide a structured way to organise your time. They are available in various formats, including digital, electronic, or physical, like paper planners or diaries. Whatever your preference, it’s important to incorporate the use of these tools in all your 7 Life Segments.

End-of-Day Planning:

Spend a few minutes at the end of each day to plan for the next. Review your accomplishments and set clear goals for the following day. This practice allows you to start your day with purpose and direction.

Start-of-Week Planning:

At the beginning of each week, look ahead to identify key tasks and priorities. Plan your schedule to ensure you allocate time to important projects and commitments.

Start-of-Month Planning:

Monthly planning provides a broader view of your goals and objectives. It’s an opportunity to set priorities for the month, align tasks with your long-term objectives, and make necessary adjustments.

Tip: While planning is essential, it’s important to allow flexibility in your schedule. Unexpected events or opportunities may arise, and rigid planning can lead to stress. Adaptability is key.

The importance of using these time-management tools, like planners and to-do lists, is to provide organisation and structure in your daily life.

They help you maintain clarity about your goals, minimise distractions, and help you to use your time efficiently.

With effective planning, you can accomplish tasks more systematically and make room for other important aspects of your life, such as personal well-being, creativity, and relaxation.

When used well and with discipline, these tools can help you maximise your personal and professional effectiveness.

If it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done.

Main Points:
  1. Time-management isn’t just about clock-watching or creating endless to-do lists; it’s a fundamental skill that enables you to maximise your productivity, reduce stress, tackle unforeseen challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve your goals with greater efficiency.
  2. Time is the only thing we can’t afford to lose.
  3. Good time-management is about good self-management.
  4. Effective time-managers know where their time goes. They don’t have a vague idea. They know exactly, and they actively work on eliminating their time-stealers and time-wasters.
  5. A time audit helps you identify your time-stealers and time-wasters.
  6. Itemising your day is the $25,000 idea— the idea of taking things one at a time in their proper order.
  7. Successful tasks make successful days. Successful days build a successful life.
  8. Prioritasking helps you to identify the most important and urgent things you need to do first.
  9. Uni-task to finish uncompleted tasks that are lingering on your desk and reduce the habit of half-work.
  10. If it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done.

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Dr. Scott Zarcinas | Doctor, Author, SpeakerABOUT DOCTORZED

Dr. Scott Zarcinas (aka DoctorZed) is a doctor, author, and transformologist. He helps pro-active people to be more decisive, confident, and effective by developing a growth mindset so that they can maximize their full potential and become the person they are capable of being. DoctorZed gives regular workshops, seminars, presentations, and courses to support those who want to make a positive difference through positive action and live the life they want, the way they want, how they want.

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