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

Beach Sunrise Wake Early Perfect Day

“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 my most important currency – what about my time?

Your New Year’s Resolutions Are Doomed Before You Even Begin – Unless…


We’re almost done with first week in January: the week where more  New Year’s resolutions are broken than any other.  

According a study conducted in 2002, 25% of New Year’s resolutions are broken in the first week alone. Within 6 months, over half of us will have given up.

Why? Why is it that so many resolutions are doomed from the start?

Here’s one major reason I’ve found with clients:  you need to learn how to balance these new resolutions with your prior commitments.

Consumed By Metawork: Always Preparing, Never Doing


“A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.”
George Patton

You may be familiar with this old Abraham Lincoln quote: “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” 

And for many people, that kind of perspective can be a tremendous life changer.

If you’ve been going through your whole life without regard for any preparation, a little preparation will dramatically improve your productivity.

However, there is a flip side to this.

Get too consumed with planning and preparing, and you risk drowning in metawork: tasks that may make you feel productive, but in the end produce no real results without action to back it up.

The Price of my Dreams – $60 a Week

That’s right – for just $60 a week, I’ve bought myself some time to chase after some dreams:  working out, playing guitar, and of course writing.  For $60 I managed to free up 10 hours every week!

Imagine what you could do with just one of your long term goals with 10 hours a week.

  • How about time to exercise? 
  • More time to spend with people you care about?
  • Or if you’re working too hard – maybe even just catching up on sleep!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain to you not just how I freed up 10 hours a week – but also the thought process for how I got here

Am I Saving Money – Or Just Wasting My Time?

Following the theme of time-management in previous posts about paying myself first with my time, I wanted to discuss something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:

Are some of the things we do to save money…  really just wasting our time?

Here’s a simple example – something I did one time when I was also doing a time log.

For a couple months I wrote down how long it took to fill up my car at two different gas stations – and today, I want to show you my results.

The Problem with The Pareto Principle

“The Pareto principle … states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” (Pareto principle, Wikipedia)

If you’re trying to streamline your work-day and boost your income, you might have come across authors telling you “facts” like these:

  • 20% of your clients pay 80% of your income.
  • 20% of your output produces 80% of your income.
  • 20% of your time produces 80% of your income.

Whenever you see the Pareto principle cited, ask yourself “Is this true?” I’d argue that, in many cases, it just isn’t. In my freelance work, I’ve often not seen the Pareto principle upheld: I’ll give you the figures for each of these three claims in turn, so you can see how the clients/output/time to income ratio works for me.