24 Hours To Win: Don't Just Manage Your Time—Maximize It
Updated: Jan 29
Growing up, one of my favorite songs was 24 Hrs. to Live by the rap artist "Mase." The reason the song resonated with me so much is because of its premise, which in theory—was about time management.
The premise, as well as the hook of the song is, “If you had 24 hours to live, just think...what would you do?” Even to this day, whenever I hear that song on my playlist I think about what I’d do under those circumstances.
For some, that could seem like a morbid concept to think about. Yet, to others—the thought may be exhilarating—or even liberating. But the harsh reality is that we do only have 24 hours to live…in a day that is. And since the average person sleeps seven hours each night to recharge—we have on average—seventeen waking hours (give or take some minutes) to win the day.
It’s what we do in those hours that will make all the difference in our fitness, finances, and fulfillment. Personally, I struggled with time management for years until I adopted these principles and implemented them into my daily routine.
Identify Your Daily Objectives
The first, and most important component in winning each waking hour of the day is realizing what are the targets that you want to execute for the day. Do you want to complete a project for work early so you can have time to begin working on something else but can’t find time to complete it?
Do you want to work out more, but instead—find yourself constantly saying you’ll do it tomorrow but never do? Do you simply want to find more time to spend with your spouse, friends, or family? In order to win the day, you must have objectives to achieve for the day.
Budget Your Hours
Have you ever heard the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” It’s an axiom used to iterate the point that you can’t accomplish colossal tasks in just one day.
And while that’s true, you can still put up a significant amount of building blocks in a day if you properly budget your time towards productivity. After you’ve identified your objectives, the easiest way to begin attacking them is to budget your hours. The first step in doing that is to disregard distractions.
Distractions are: roving social media, television, trivial texting or phone calls, prolonged water cooler conversations at work, and anything else that’s not essential to your personal goals for the day.
There is a time and place for distractions in order to take your mind off things. However, I look at them as things that should be earned and consumed after a task is accomplished. Sorta like cheat meals.
The concept of the cheat meal is to reward yourself with one meal a week (typically on the weekend) in which you can eat whatever you'd like guilt-free after a week of practicing a disciplined diet. View social media, sports-watching, gaming, TV, and other distractions from the same purview—but from a daily standpoint.
For instance; if you're a salesperson, don’t check your social media pages until you contact a certain number of leads by a reasonable time. If you're a student struggling with focus, don’t look at anything online outside of your coursework until you study for at least an hour straight.
This way, you'll be more focused—while also having something to look forward to as an additional reward for accomplishing a task. It's the same cheat meal concept with dopamine being the carrot (or carrot cake) at the end of the stick.
By cutting the fat (distractions) of your day, you’ll notice that you'll have more hours to devote towards productivity. Disregarding distractions is as valuable to winning the day as eliminating frivolous spending is to your bank account.
Procrastination Is Your Enemy
In his best-selling book Think And Grow Rich, author Napoleon Hill, emphatically states, “Indecision and procrastination are twin brothers, kill them both!" Although the book was written in the 1930's in a time with far less vapid distractions than we have today, the fact still remains the same. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to getting the most out of the day.
Think about it, how many things did you tell yourself that you’d do today that have now been promised for tomorrow or punted to another day in the future like the proverbial can gets kicked down the road?
The antidote to procrastination and his evil twin brother indecision (Napoleon’s words, not mine) is compartmentalizing and prioritizing. By putting the most important things that you want to accomplish for the day in order and making them a priority—you’ll be able to consciously make time-efficient decisions to tackle them.
The easiest way to do this is by writing down your goals for the next day and placing the list somewhere that you could always see them—like on a piece of paper or somewhere in your phone. Then, when you wake up every morning—look at those goals and put the necessary effort towards accomplishing them sequentially.
According to a study at The Dominican University in California, by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down.
Take a second and think about that, you’re 42 percent more likely to accomplish something simply by writing it down and looking at it on a regular occasion. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a great investment of effort to me.
A recently popular aphorism in hip hop culture is “We all have the same 24 hours." Which is an edifying way of saying we’re all on equal-footing as far as the time we have each day to attain our goals.
And while I do believe that is an accurate assertion—I also believe that time management, prioritizing, and compartmentalizing are skills that can be developed and applied by anyone.
All it takes is focus and discipline. And if you also write those two words down and look at them regularly along with your daily goals—you’ll be 84 percent more likely to win the day (at least by my math).
Career coach Michael Altshuler, may have the best quote when it comes to time management when he stated, "The bad news is time flies, the good news is you're the pilot."