Time management (Part 1)

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I don’t know for sure if people are more time-stressed than
ever before here in the US.  Maybe in some ways, but on the other hand,
if you go back a century, the average work week in the US was closer to
60 hours than our current 40 hours.  Estimates during the 1800’s?  All the way up to 70
hours/week during the first part of the century. (Interesting statistics)

I mention this because I want to emphasize the luxury that we have
today.  With an average work week of less than 40 hours, we have almost
unprecedented control of our time.  
Let’s assume that you are giving your employer your best for 40
hours/week and let’s say you sleep 8 hours a night.  And let’s say that you spend another 2.5 hours/day (US average) on household chores.

That leaves over 54 hours a week that you can control. But that control comes with a responsibility.  54 hours of time to invest is a gold mine.

So how well are we doing with it? Well, the average person in the US spends over 5 hours a day on leisure (mostly TV of course).  There goes 37 of those hours up in smoke.

Think about that: 37 hours/week in leisure.  And yet, practically every person you meet will complain that they don’t have enough time to get done what they need to.

Now, I know I am being a bit idealistic here.  I know people need downtime.  I know things come up.  I know that commuting eats up time.  This is not really as simple as it seems.  But I have to believe that a lot of people that complain about lack of time are doing a very poor job managing their time. 

By the way, this is coming from a person who enjoys down time every day.  After we get the children to bed at 9:00, practically every day, I veg for a few hours with my wife watching TV or surfing the internet. 

In fact, I am not really a hard worker if I am being honest.  I usually work 10 hours/day during the week (8-6).  Up to two of those hours are usually spent at the piano.  The rest is spent on various stuff spread across my businesses.  When I get home around 6:00, I spend time with the family until the children are in bed.  When home, I do usually work part of the day on Saturday and I take off Sunday completely.  (When doing concerts, I am often gone all weekend and often am working pretty much the whole time, especially if a pianist workshop is involved).

You get the picture though.  I am hardly the classic workaholic.  But on the other hand, I must at least appear to be pretty efficient because I am often asked by you guys to write about time management.  I guess that is because of the perception that I juggle a lot of balls and wear a lot of hats and yet manage to get a few things done. 

Many of you get just as many things done.  But I suppose sometimes my projects just appear to be big and intimidating.  Last year for example, I arranged and recorded two new CDs, produced Live in Charleston,
and recorded 25 hours of instructional DVDs.  While doing that, I wrote
for this blog, did concerts/workshops, and did the normal
marketing/business stuff that comes with the territory of being a
professional musician.  That is in addition to my main job which is CEO of Vitabase.

While I would not consider myself to be a time management expert at all, there are some principles that I have learned over the years that have become integral to how I work.  Some of them came from a book I read a dozen years ago.  It was a borrowed book and I can’t even remember the name of it, but it really helped me.

So I am going to take some time over the next few weeks and go through some of those principles.  Some of them may seem ridiculous to you and some of them might make you think I am one strange bird.  But I will share them anyway. 

And I hope you will share yours too.