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Summary: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse

  • The book reveals the 15 time management secrets that highly successful people use to achieve more with less stress and overwhelm.
  • The secrets are based on the author’s research and interviews with hundreds of billionaires, Olympic athletes, straight-A students, and entrepreneurs.
  • The secrets cover topics such as identifying your most important task, working from your calendar, beating procrastination, delegating outcomes, batching tasks, eliminating distractions, and using a morning ritual.

What is the secret to high productivity? What could you accomplish if you had more time in your day? How do you get out of your own way and stop procrastinating? Kevin Kruse set out to answer these questions by interviewing hundreds of successful people, including athletes, billionaires, and CEOs. In this book summary for 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, you’ll learn how to relieve stress, tackle procrastination, and increase productivity — all while having more time to enjoy your life.

Learn how to increase your productivity, find extra time in your day, and relieve stress with these proven time-management strategies.


  • Tend to procrastinate because you’re overwhelmed
  • Are easily distracted by social media
  • Want to be more successful

Book Summary: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management - The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs


Kevin Kruse – New York Times best-selling author, Forbes contributor and Inc. 500 award-winning entrepreneur – combines his skills as a CEO and a journalist to search for common bonds of success by surveying people of great accomplishment. In surprisingly personal replies, billionaires, entrepreneurs and Olympians stress that they make the most of every minute, at work and at play. High achievers follow a fundamental mind-set. They regard time as an asset more valuable than money and they spend every minute wisely. They focus on their top goals. They strip clutter from their workplace and reject time-consuming commitments. Even hands-on entrepreneurs delegate most tasks. In this guide brimming with verbatim insights, top achievers emphasize the need for rest, exercise and even fun – maybe that’s why Kruse included some intriguing apps. We recommend his practical advice to anyone who wants to become more efficient and more successful.


  • Highly successful people view time as their most valuable asset.
  • A tightly scheduled calendar relieves stress and increases intellectual focus.
  • Identifying your most important goal will help you prioritize your tasks.
  • Many of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs carry notebooks so they can jot down their ideas immediately.
  • Brief daily huddles can replace long meetings, reduce emails and unite your team.
  • The 80/20 principle holds that 20% of the work generates 80% of the results.
  • Delegating as many tasks as possible frees your time for your highest-return goals.
  • Many entrepreneurs assign themes to days of the week, such as “focus days” or “buffer days.”
  • High achievers deal with incoming short-term tasks instantly to avoid extra work and clutter.
  • Renewing your physical and mental energy with sleep and relaxation improves your productivity.


Author Kevin Kruse interviewed billionaires, entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, and top students to come up with 15 essential time-management mantras:

  1. Time is irreplaceable — you can never make up for lost time so use it wisely.
  2. Identify your most important task and do it first. Your MIT (most important task) deserves your full focus before you move on to another task.
  3. Work from your calendar, not a to-do list. To-do lists are wish lists that generally don’t come true.
  4. To overcome procrastination, get started however you can — even if it means pretending you’re the productive person you want to be.
  5. There will always be more to do. Focus on your most important tasks today and leave the rest until tomorrow.
  6. Always carry a notebook. You never know when or where your next great idea could strike.
  7. Control your inbox. Organizing your email is a huge step in organizing your time.
  8. Schedule meetings as a last resort. A meeting is necessary only when all other communication has failed.
  9. Say no to everything that doesn’t support your immediate goals. All your focus should be on your MITs — anything else takes valuable time and energy from your goal.
  10. Follow the “Powerful Pareto Principle,” also known as the 80/20 rule. Choose to focus on the tasks that get you the most results.
  11. Focus on your unique strengths and passions. Delegate all other tasks.
  12. Batch your work with recurring themes. Choosing a theme can improve your focus for the day/week.
  13. If you can do a task in less than five minutes, do it immediately. Successful people get things done and out of the way as soon as they can.
  14. Routinely use early mornings to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit. Focusing on your mental and physical health is vital in helping you focus on your MITs.
  15. Productivity is about energy and focus, not time. Pay attention to your energy levels and schedule enough time for rest and rejuvenation.

Time Is Your Most Valuable and Scarcest Resource

Working as a CEO, Kevin Kruse learned to manage regular interruptions from his employees that would eat away his entire day. Frustrated, he hung a big sign on his door that simply read “1440.”

He saw his day as 1,440 minutes that he had to carefully guard to be successful. The sign helped him focus on crucial tasks, and after the initial phase of curiosity, his employees started using his 1,440-minute approach with improved efficiency. When Kruse interviewed other high achievers, he learned that they shared a similar outlook.

Most successful people guard their time carefully and use every minute wisely. Time is an asset that’s more valuable than money. As such, successful people place focus on their top priorities and goals, avoid commitments that take too much time, and avoid both mental and physical clutter.

There’s no crazy trick or gimmick behind this — simply work to shift your thinking and your mindset. This summary will teach you plenty about time management, but it cannot teach you to regain lost time.

Identify Your Most Important Task and Do it First

The most important thing for you to determine is what you should focus on and how you’ll complete this task/goal. Successful people have their eyes set on longterm goals and top priorities, but they also determine the relevant short-term goals they should achieve first. They break short-term goals (also known as SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, time bound) into measurable actions that guide them to their “most important tasks” (MITs).

Your focus should be on finishing your MITs before moving on to other things.

Bonus productivity hack: The brain works best during the first couple of hours every morning, so this is the best time to focus on your MITs. Get an early start to give you time to focus and avoid distractions.

Work from Your Calendar, Not a To-Do List

A downside of to-do lists is that they often turn into wish lists that never get done or are pushed out by other urgent tasks. To-do lists don’t separate tasks that take a minute from those that take several hours, and they lack an order of priority, which distracts your focus. Studies show that most people who use to-do lists are unable to finish close to half of their tasks.

Successful people, on the other hand, depend on tightly scheduled calendars that allow for focus on their MITs first. To mimic this, block out time for whatever is important to you and schedule the most important items as early in the day as you can. Treat these blocks as if they’re important appointments — because they are. Never cancel on yourself (however, occasional rescheduling is OK).

Now, go ahead and try it out — schedule your next week or month with your MITs. You’ll notice that you feel less stress because you don’t have an unorganized list full of unfinished tasks.

To Overcome Procrastination, Trick Yourself

If you tend to procrastinate, take comfort that you aren’t lazy — you’re just human. It’s always more fun to watch TV or scroll through social media than to get started on a task that requires more effort or brainpower.

There are different methods to beat procrastination. For instance, certain tasks are easier to accomplish when you do them with someone else, like going to the gym with a friend. Other tasks are easier to accomplish if there’s a reward at the end.

You might have to trick yourself to get started. Pretend that you’re already the productive person you want to be and start the actions a productive person would take. Even if the action is small, just start. You can also break large goals into micro tasks that are more manageable.

The key is to get up and get moving. Don’t let the fear of imperfection slow you down — remember that no one is perfect.

Leave the Office at 5 Without Guilt

Our society likes to make martyrs of those who work long hours every day, as if they’re a part of some elusive “hustle club”. The truth is, working long hours doesn’t mean you’re working smarter, just harder — and your personal life pays the price. Successful people know their limitations and pick their top priorities for the day. Once the end of the day comes, they leave the rest of their work for the next day.

Work is never-ending if you don’t set boundaries (this is especially necessary for those who identify as people-pleasers). Andy Grove, author of High Output Management, says he’s done with work when he’s tired, not when he’s done — because he’s never done. It may take some work (pun intended), but your new laserfocus on your MITs will help alleviate any guilt from leaving the office at a reasonable hour.

Always Carry a Notebook

Some of the most successful CEOs credit their success to keeping a notebook on hand. Write everything down — take notes of random thoughts, great ideas, and meeting takeaways.

Studies reveal that the brain uses many interconnected functions to process written information, which leads to more accurate and active recall when compared to typing. The act of writing things down makes you remember information more clearly, so you can act upon it later.

Master Your Email Inbox With 321-Zero

McKinsey Global Institute performed a survey on office workers, and the results showed that employees spend one-third of the day reading and exchanging emails. This isn’t surprising, but it is maddening — email is an easy way for people to place their priorities in your life.

To master your inbox, unsubscribe from any unnecessary e-newsletters or other unwanted emails. Then, apply the “321-Zero” rule: Three times a day, devote 21 minutes to reading your emails with the intention to get to inbox zero. Since you’re only checking your emails at these set times, turn off all email notifications — otherwise, they’ll just serve as a distraction.

When you check your email using this method, you’ll respond with brief, precise answers because of the time limit. Upon opening each email, decide if it needs immediate action. If not, delegate it to someone else, defer it to another time, delete it, or file it away.

When replying to emails, be careful who you copy and forward to. Unnecessary parties included in an email can cause “reply all” chains that snowball out of hand. Also, use your subject line to identify the action needed and be as brief as possible in the body of your email, respecting both your own time and the time of recipients.

Schedule and Attend Meetings as a Last Resort

Most people think meetings are a waste of time, and often, they’re spent discussing issues of small importance. Mark Cuban is quoted as saying “never take a meeting unless someone is writing a check.” You may not be at Mark Cuban’s level (yet) but removing a meeting from your calendar can save a lot of time for all attendees.

Rather than a formal meeting, a better option may be to have a team meeting huddle — which simply means the team is standing up as the agenda items are reviewed. Generally, these huddles last only 10-15 minutes. Studies show that sitdown meetings last up to 40% longer, with no significant difference in the quality of decisions made in the meetings. Marissa Mayer of Yahoo limits her meetings to 10 minutes — it’s the only way to attend the nearly 70 requests for meetings she gets each week.

Schedule meetings only when other types of communication don’t work, and make sure you have a good agenda when you do schedule a meeting. Seek input from attendees, clearly state the point of the meeting, and list out the agenda topics with time estimates for each. Also, politely ask participants to refrain from cell phone use to avoid wasting time and ensure they’re fully engaged.

Say No to Everything That Doesn’t Support Your Immediate Goals

Saying no seems like a simple enough task. But you probably don’t want to hurt any feelings or come off as rude when doing so.

Learning to say no is an important boundary and a way to guard your time. Warren Buffett says that “successful people say no to nearly everything” because they understand that every commitment means forgoing other (possibly better) opportunities.

Exercise your “saying no” muscle — don’t agree to any request that doesn’t support your top priorities.

Follow the ‘Powerful Pareto Principle’

The Pareto rule says that 20% of work leads to 80% of results — it’s all about the balance of inputs and outputs. If you run a business, you might find that most of your profits come from your top employees. Similarly, if you have a garden, 80% of your vegetables may come from only 20% of your land.

Applying this rule means focusing on your best employees, your best products, and your best ideas. You can be happier and less stressed by identifying the 20% of inputs that are most important, and you can expect a greater outcome as a result.

Focus Your Time on Things That Utilize Your Unique Strengths and Passions

In 2013, a Harvard research team performed a productivity experiment on employees. The researchers asked workers to assess their tasks based on three questions:

  • Could they stop doing the task entirely?
  • Could they assign it to someone else?
  • If neither of these were viable options, could they create a better solution?

After using this method and asking themselves these pertinent questions about each task, those who participated gained an average of 8 hours’ time.

Whenever you set out to complete a task, ask how important the task is and whether you’re the only person who can do it. Or consider if there’s a faster or better process that can get the task done quicker. In doing this, you’ll be spending time on important things, rather than filling up your day with inconsequential tasks that don’t make a meaningful impact.

Batch Your Work With Recurring Themes for Different Days of the Week

Innovative entrepreneurs, like Jack Dorsey from Twitter, allot themes to their days. Themes may be “focus days” for focusing on specific tasks, “buffer days” to catch up on emails and calls, or “free days” for vacation and the like. Devoting an entire day to a specific theme spurs collective focus and improves productivity.

Design your themes — what would your ideal week look like?

If You Can Do a Task in Less Than Five Minutes, Do it Immediately

Get those quick and easy tasks out of the way! High achievers follow a “touch it once” rule with any items or tasks:

  • Handle email immediately: Refer to the 321-Zero method and finish anything you can do quickly. If you’re unable to resolve something immediately, add it to your calendar at a time when you can finish it.
  • Update your calendar as needed: Shift lengthy tasks from email to your calendar as a reminder. Also, set aside some time to handle routine tasks, like paying bills.
  • Regularly clear clutter: In a messy environment, you’ll waste time looking for misplaced items. And clutter can also lead to stress.

Schedule ‘Me’ Time

Invest the first 60 minutes of each day in rituals that strengthen your mind, body, and spirit. Successful people schedule time to focus on their happiness and health, both physical and mental.

Design a morning routine that works for you, whether it includes meditation, exercise, or making a healthy breakfast. Allowing the time to just “be” will allow you that much more focus for your MITs later in the day.

Productivity Is About Energy and Focus

The most important lesson this summary teaches you is that you can increase your energy, but you can’t increase your time. Stop searching for ways to manage your time — what you really want is to get more work done and reduce your stress, right? Here’s the secret: No matter what you do, you can’t manage your time — you’re always going to have the same 24 hours in a day. But there are times when you have more energy than at other times.

If you’re tired, rest. Pushing yourself when you’re exhausted is a great way to burnout, and if you’re tired, you’ll likely produce subpar work. Work in intervals and check in with yourself – if you’re usually exhausted after an hour-long cardio session, don’t plan to work on your MITs immediately after. If you notice you’re especially creative after your morning walk, schedule accordingly.

Utilize your calendar and schedule your time (and your breaks) to focus at times that make the most sense for you. Your road to success is a personal journey and so is the time when you’re most productive.


Fifteen Top Time-Management Tips

In a series of revealing interviews, seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, 29 star students and 239 entrepreneurs explained their 15 most useful time-management secrets:

1. “Time Is Your Most Valuable and Scarcest Resource”

As a CEO irked by constant interruptions, author Kevin Kruse posted a large sign reading, “1440.” He discovered that viewing his day as 1,440 minutes of potential success helped him focus on essential tasks. His employees began emulating his 1,440-minute mind-set, thus increasing productivity throughout his company. Kruse’s interviews and surveys with top achievers confirm that they share this point of view. They recognize time as their most valuable asset. The loss of money, even the failure of a business, still leaves future opportunities to regain ground, but lost time is irreplaceable.

2. “Identify Your Most Important Task” and Do It First

Successful people focus on their top priority, long-term goals and identify meaningful, specific short-term goals they must accomplish first. Breaking short-term goals down into measurable steps guides high achievers to their “most important tasks” (MIT). They concentrate on completing all or part of their MITs before they go on to other activities.

“Highly successful people don’t think about time much at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities and consistent habits.”

Savvy CEOs confirm the scientific theory that the brain functions at its fullest capacity during the first two hours each morning. Airbnb founder Nathan Blecharczyk makes use of this burst of energy to concentrate on his main priorities. Getting off to an early start each day gives you a work period of relative peace before daily problems arise to distract you from your MIT.

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

A to-do list can become a monster. Vanquishing one problem only creates many more to add to the list. Research indicates that most list-makers never complete 41% of their planned jobs. Daily lists tend to randomize the order of importance among your tasks, thus muddling your focus. Most successful CEOs rely on strictly scheduled calendars. Sticking to a schedule allows time for you to focus first on your MITs. Deciding what tasks deserve calendar space or blocks of time keeps you from wasting time. Entrepreneurs report that tightly organized calendars reduce stress.

“If you aren’t busy working on your own goals, you’ll be working to achieve somebody else’s goals.”

Power players make their calendars work hard and play hard by reserving time for solo concentration, for one-on-one communication and for team input. They also set aside specific chunks of time for relaxation. Briana Scurry, goalkeeper for two gold medal–winning soccer teams, consistently took days off from training to rest and regain perspective. Highly successful people set aside time to care for their health and their personal lives, families and communities.

4. To Overcome Procrastination, “Beat Your Future Self”

Most people say procrastination is why they choose easier tasks first or believe they will perform better later, but don’t measure up. Instead of delaying, try these “procrastination busters”:

Do now what you promise you’ll do later – Defeating procrastination means doing what you should do right this minute instead of trusting some future version of yourself “to do the right thing” later. If you say you’ll diet, exercise or do that irksome job in five minutes, do it now. Have a salad before you order ice cream, jog before you collapse on the couch and proofread that report before you watch videos. People think they’ll be better later, but they probably won’t. To succeed, be better now.

  • For motivation, imagine your results – Whether finishing a task will give you pleasure or failing to get it done will cause you pain, imagine the outcome of your actions.
  • Share the burden – Being responsible to someone else who shares your goal, like a fellow jogger, creates an emotional commitment. Enlist an “accountability partner.”
  • Grab the carrot; avoid the stick – The promise of a future reward lures some people, but often the fear of punishment works better. Devising a personal non-completion penalty in the form of a charitable contribution can turn your lack into a community gain.
  • Behave like the person you hope to become – Adopt the behaviors of your ideal self to anchor your values and make a firmer commitment to them. Even going through the motions will help you achieve your personal best.
  • Embrace the imperfect – The desire for perfection may intimidate you into inaction. Acknowledging imperfect work is a first step to easing the stress that keeps you from starting at all. “Settle for good enough;” you can always improve your output later.

5. “There Will Always Be More to Do”

Successful people accept their limitations. From a mountain of tasks, they choose their daily priorities, try to achieve them and leave the rest at the office for another day. While work may be never-ending, they know they must set reasonable boundaries. Overcoming the onus of constant responsibility will help you lead a normal life and care for yourself and your family without guilt.

6. “Always Carry a Notebook”

Some of the world’s most famous billionaires, including Sir Richard Branson, attribute their success to keeping a notebook handy. Jotting down stray thoughts, meeting notes and great ideas creates indelible impressions, both on paper and in your mind. Research shows the brain uses several intertwined functions to process handwritten information. This results in more active, accurate recall than typing. Once you capture your ideas, notes or lessons on paper, transfer them to a computer for permanent future reference. Date your notebooks so you can refer back to them.

7. “Control Your Inbox”

A survey by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that office workers spend up to one-third of their days reading and replying to emails. Be aware that “email is a great way for other people to put their priorities into your life.” Use the “321-Zero” system to keep email in its place: Three times a day, spend 21 minutes reviewing your messages. Your goal is an inbox with no new mail.

“Items on a to-do list can sit there forever, constantly getting bumped by things that seem urgent in the moment.”

This arbitrary time limit will force you to reply with clear, succinct answers. Act on each email when you open it. Decide if you should work on it immediately, enter it on your calendar for later action, delegate it or file it. Frugal use of the Copy and Forward commands help you avoid snowballing responses that clog your inbox. Clever use of the subject line can alert the recipient as to whether your email requires urgent action or a later response or is simply an FYI note.

8. “Schedule and Attend Meetings as a Last Resort”

Eliminating formal meetings can save everyone wasted time. Don’t set up or go to meetings unless “all other forms of communication won’t work.” Many entrepreneurs use a brief daily huddle as a more efficient, informative and unifying way to get their team moving. The late Steve Jobs famously avoided meetings by substituting a short, eminently escapable stroll. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban advises, “Never do meetings unless someone is writing a check.”

9. “Say No to Everything that Doesn’t Support Your Immediate Goals”

Business magnate Warren Buffett advises that, “very successful people say no to almost everything.” They realize that each commitment of their time may result in the loss of other opportunities. They protect their most valuable asset, time, from any request that doesn’t further their long-term priorities.

10. Follow the “Powerful Pareto Principle”

The Pareto principle holds that 20% of your effort accounts for 80% of your results. Aspiring billionaires apply this economic principle to identify the most efficient ways to deploy their exceptional skills or to complete important tasks. Use this principle to identify the 20% of your activities that will provide 80% of the reward for your efforts.

11. Focus on “Your Unique Strengths and Passions”

As part of a productivity experiment, a Harvard research team asked employees to analyze the chores they do on based on three questions: Could they drop the task entirely as unnecessary? Could they delegate it to a competent subordinate? If they had to do the task, could they examine it to develop a more efficient solution? By following this program, each employee saved an average of “six hours of desk work and two hours of meeting time each week.”

“If you don’t have an admin, you are an admin.”

A CEO who regularly delegates to trustworthy employees gains more energy and productivity and suffers less stress. Outsourcing easier chores frees up your time and mental energy to concentrate on meaningful goals and high return projects. Youtility author Jay Baer advises trying to delegate “at least 15% of what you’re doing.” However, some successful people refuse to delegate certain “grounding” tasks. For example, Mark Cuban likes to wash his own laundry.

12. “Batch Your Work with Recurring Themes”

Innovative entrepreneurs assign themes to their office days so their employees can concentrate on one specific type of work. Scheduled weekly and monthly themes can include “meeting” days for one-on-one discussions, team gatherings or group training seminars. Other themes include “focus days” to concentrate on certain crucial tasks and “buffer days” for catching up. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz sticks to a “No Meeting Wednesdays” theme. Devoting a staff’s entire day to one kind of work encourages collective concentration that spurs productivity.

13. If You Can Do a Task in “Less Than Five Minute, Do It Immediately”

Top achievers seek immediate return on their time. To expedite incoming work, they enforce a “touch it once” principle:

  • Handle email immediately – Delegate as much of it as you can. Complete instantly anything you can handle in just a few minutes. If you can’t resolve an email request quickly, add it to your calendar.
  • Update your calendar as needed – Move time-consuming tasks from email to your calendar as a reminder to act on them as soon as possible. Create weekly time blocks to deal with routine tasks, such as paying bills.
  • Constantly clear clutter – Be mindful of time wasted searching for mislaid items. Maintain order in your surroundings. A messy environment can cause stress.

14. Routinely Use Early Mornings to “Strengthen Your Mind, Body and Spirit”

Most entrepreneurs embrace a morning routine to re-energize physically and mentally. They recharge with plenty of water, healthy food and exercise. Busy CEOs invigorate their minds with reading or meditation. Uber-achiever Arnold Schwarzenegger rises at dawn to read several newspapers, do a cardiovascular workout, and eat a breakfast of fruit and oatmeal.

15. “Productivity Is About Energy and Focus, Not Time”

Hard workers make room in their schedules for relaxation. Spending more time on work doesn’t guarantee more or better results. Maintaining maximum energy levels and working in short spurts aids productivity. The brain’s capacity to process data efficiently falters during the day, dropping from full energy to fatigue about every 90 minutes. Frequent breaks for water, nutritious snacks and light exercise rejuvenate the mind and encourage greater productivity. Billionaire Mohammed Dewji – the CEO of Tanzania-based MeTL Group – relies on a midday workout to renew his energy and focus.

“The single most important thing when it comes to time and productivity isn’t a tactic or a trick – it’s a shift in mind-set.”

Take enough down time to build the energy you need to perform. Olympic athletes depend on sleep to revitalize their bodies. Shannon Miller, seven-time Olympic medalist in gymnastics, enjoys brief power naps. Consistently healthful food, fun, rest and recreation renew your physical stamina and mental focus. This fosters greater productivity and enhances your life at play and at work. Successful people build the energy and focus to make each minute count.


There are 15 things you can do to make the most out of your day:

  1. Time is irreplaceable — you can never make up for lost time so use it wisely.
  2. Identify your most important task and do it first. Your MIT (most important task) deserves your full focus before you move on to another task.
  3. Work from your calendar, not a to-do list. To-do lists are wish lists that generally don’t come true.
  4. To overcome procrastination, get started however you can — even if it means pretending you’re the productive person you want to be.
  5. There will always be more to do. Focus on your most important tasks today and leave the rest until tomorrow.
  6. Always carry a notebook. You never know when or where your next great idea could strike.
  7. Control your inbox. Organizing your email is a huge step in organizing your time.
  8. Schedule meetings as a last resort. A meeting is necessary only when all other communication has failed.
  9. Say no to everything that doesn’t support your immediate goals. All your focus should be on your MITs — anything else takes valuable time and energy from your goal.
  10. Follow the “Powerful Pareto Principle,” also known as the 80/20 rule. Choose to focus on the tasks that get you the most results.
  11. Focus on your unique strengths and passions. Delegate all other tasks.
  12. Batch your work with recurring themes. Choosing a theme can improve your focus for the day/week.
  13. If you can do a task in less than five minutes, do it immediately. Successful people get things done and out of the way as soon as they can.
  14. Routinely use early mornings to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit. Focusing on your mental and physical health is vital in helping you focus on your MITs.
  15. Productivity is about energy and focus, not time. Pay attention to your energy levels and schedule enough time for rest and rejuvenation.

About the author

Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author, contributor at Forbes, Inc. 500 award winner, journalist, and CEO. He regularly advises Marine Corps generals and Fortune 500 CEOs on successful time management and productivity methods.


Personal Growth, Productivity, Business, Skills, Time Management, Self-Management

Table of Contents

“Overworked and overwhelmed” on a New Jersey highway
The power of 1440
The power of proper priorities
Stop making to-do lists, do this instead
The procrastination cure
How to leave the office at 5:00 without guilt
Richard Branson’s secret productivity tool
Master your email inbox with 321Zero
Meeting hacks from Google, Apple, and Virgin
One little word that multiplies success
The powerful Pareto Principle
The “3 Harvard questions” that save 8 hours a week
Why Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey themes his days
Don’t touch! (until you’re ready)
Change your morning, change your life
Energy is everything
The E-3C system: putting it all together
20 more time & productivity hacks
Time secrets of 7 billionaires
Time secrets of 13 Olympic athletes
Time secrets of 29 straight-A students
Time secrets of 239 entrepreneurs.


The book is based on the author’s research and interviews with hundreds of highly successful people, including billionaires, Olympic athletes, straight-A students, and entrepreneurs. The author reveals the 15 secrets that these people use to manage their time and achieve more with less stress and overwhelm. The 15 secrets are:

  • Time is your most valuable and scarcest resource. You have 1,440 minutes in a day, and you should use them wisely.
  • Identify your most important task (MIT) and work on it first thing in the morning, before checking email or social media.
  • Work from your calendar, not a to-do list. Schedule everything that matters, from meetings to workouts to family time.
  • Beat procrastination with the 15-minute rule. Start any task by setting a timer for 15 minutes and committing to work on it until the timer goes off.
  • Focus on your unique ability and delegate or outsource everything else. Do what you do best and let others do the rest.
  • Use a notebook to capture every idea, task, or commitment that comes to your mind. Review your notes at least once a day and transfer them to your calendar or delegate them to someone else.
  • Email is a major time waster. Check it only two or three times a day, and use the 4D method to process it: delete, delegate, do, or defer.
  • Avoid meetings as much as possible. If you have to attend or run a meeting, make it short, focused, and actionable.
  • Say no to everything that is not aligned with your goals or values. You can’t do everything, so you have to choose what matters most to you.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule. Focus on the 20% of activities that produce 80% of your results, and eliminate or minimize the rest.
  • Delegate outcomes, not activities. Give clear instructions and expectations to the people you delegate to, and let them figure out how to get it done.
  • Batch your work into similar tasks and do them in one sitting. This will reduce the switching costs and increase your efficiency.
  • Eliminate distractions and interruptions. Turn off your phone, email notifications, and social media alerts when you need to focus. Use tools like Freedom or RescueTime to block distracting websites or apps.
  • Get enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition. These are essential for your energy, health, and productivity. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night, 30 minutes of exercise per day, and a balanced diet that includes plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, and protein.
  • Use a morning ritual to start your day right. Do something that energizes you, such as meditation, gratitude, affirmations, reading, or journaling.

I found this book to be very helpful and practical. The author provides many examples, stories, tips, and tools that illustrate how to apply the 15 secrets in different situations. The book is easy to read and understand, and the secrets are simple but powerful. I especially liked the E-3C system that summarizes the four main aspects of time management: energy, capture, calendar, and concentrate. I also appreciated the bonus chapters that cover topics such as goal setting, habit formation, motivation, and happiness.

The book is not perfect though. Some of the secrets are not very original or surprising, such as using a notebook or saying no. Some of the advice may not work for everyone or every context, such as working from your calendar or avoiding meetings. Some of the examples may not be very relatable or realistic for most people, such as billionaires or Olympic athletes. And some of the tools may not be very accessible or affordable for some readers, such as hiring a virtual assistant or using expensive software.

Overall, I think this book is worth reading if you want to improve your time management skills and productivity. It offers a lot of valuable insights and strategies that can help you achieve more with less stress and overwhelm. However, you should also be aware of its limitations and adapt it to your own needs and preferences. As the author says in the introduction: “Don’t blindly follow anyone’s advice (including mine). Instead…experiment until you find what works best for you.”

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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