How To Have a Productive Day: Pay Yourself First With Your Time


“Time is the coin of your life.
It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.
Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ”
– Carl Sandburg

Each week I put aside money for my savings, investments and other expenses before spending any of it.

If there is not enough to pay the bills, I cut down on excess spending on extraneous things.

But I always pay myself first.

That’s just money though – they print more of it every day.

What about your most important currency – what about your time?

As I’ve been researching the Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People, one that I discovered if they are in total control of their time. And it starts in the morning.

Consider this: if you want to have a productive day – when do you think you should work on your most important tasks?

Paying Myself … Last

Though I pay myself first with regards to my investments for the future, one of the areas where I used to constantly pay myself last is my time; my life.

I would wake up and begin spending my life working for someone else – whether it was a client, a project, or sometimes even just favors for friends.

Only after finishing tasks that I needed to do for other people would I finally set aside time for myself, and to to work on my goals.

I figured it was ok, since I had scheduled in time for my goals…but what about those  days where the work piled up, and I either spent more time on it or was just too drained?

You guessed it – sometimes, I wouldn’t make it to my goals at all.

This was no way to spend my hours – working on my personal goals last.  

And you know – if you never work on something guess what? You guarantee failure.

So just like Steve Jobs and Warren Buffer, I copied their productivity secret – and I started applying the same “pay myself first” philosophy to my life.

Time To Start Paying Myself First

I decided to make a switch.

First, I made sure to use my time budget and fit all my personal goals in.

Then, I started prioritizing them even more – by moving them earlier in the day.

Instead of working on personal goals in the afternoon and evening, I decided to start the day working on what mattered most to me.

Every morning, I wake up and get ready. Then, once I am fully awake, when I am at my most productive, I start the day with my goals – my priorities.

I work out. I read. Some days I practice guitar, and other days I reflect.

If I choose to work with clients first, or choose to work on my career, whatever the case is: I make it a conscious decision.

Let me share with you some of the benefits of paying myself first with my time

Benefit #1:  To Have a Productive Day,  Start Your Morning With Zero Distractions

Now that I’ve developed the habit of paying myself first with my time, I wake up early.

Because of that, I have no phone calls and nobody else is awake in the house.

I also intentionally avoid potentially distracting activities.

I leave my cell phone off so I don’t get any emails or other push notifications, and I prefer to work in silence.

Benefit #2:  Forced Productivity

One lesson I learned early in my life about personal finance is you never miss your forced saving.

If you put away ten or twenty percent as savings before you give yourself a chance to spend the money, you adjust your lifestyle to match your income.

On the other hand, it’s much more difficult to put money away to save after it’s already in your wallet – and tempting you to spend it

Similarly, if I keep telling myself I’ll exercise later, and then in the afternoon I feel tired or lazy – it’s easy to suddenly decide I can skip the workout.

Instead, if I tell myself to exercise early in the morning, I can get it out of my way before I have a chance to make any excuses.

It’s forced productivity – I know I’ve got to take care of my personal goals first – or I won’t allow myself to work on anything else at all!

Benefit #3:  A Fresh start

When I wake up, every day is a new day a new chance to have a productive day.

I don’t have anything on my mind, and when I sleep it’s a chance to “reboot” my brain before I get started on my personal projects.

As opposed to trying to switch gears after working on other project, I get to immediately focus in on personal goals in the morning.

Now you may be thinking…well that’s fine if you’re a morning person, but it’s not for me!

If You’re Not a Morning Person Take Baby Steps

You don’t have to suddenly change your life to put this lesson to work for you.

Just wake up a few minutes early.

Spend even 5, 10, 15 minutes on yourself first thing in the morning – and see what kind of difference it makes.  If you are really pressed for time, try to work an audiobook into your commute.  I like to listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I get ready in the morning.

Because in the short term, it’s ok if you don’t see tremendous results – what’s important is a shift in mindset

It’s a shift in thinking of each day starting out not by default with what you always do: but rather, starting it intentionally with what matters to you.

Spend time on yourself – first.

Want to really start paying yourself first in your life? Check out my new free training course: Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People. It includes lessons by Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and more. Real simple, 3 day email course with lessons you can use right away. Check it out here – Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People.

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