#49 Guru Rory Vaden: Procrastinate on Purpose to Get the Job Done
March 22, 2022
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Everything you thought you knew about time management is… yeah, you guessed it.


At least, that’s what leadership speaker and author Rory Vaden tells us in his powerful 2015 TEDxDouglasville talk.

His pondering on the subject of time management began when he went to pick up his business partner for an important planning meeting. As they were leaving, his colleague’s toddler pleaded with her dad to stay home instead of heading out to work.

“No, Daddy, please, no work today.”

All the apps, calendars, tools, tips, and tricks won’t save you time in a world where time management is no longer just practical. It’s emotional.

Read on to find out how you can get the stuff you need to get done, well, done today.


There’s No Such Thing As Time Management

“You can’t manage time; time continues on whether we like it or not,” Vaden says. “Really, there is only self-management.”

Early time management theory was a product of the Industrial Revolution. It only focused on one aspect: efficiency. Though this, as we know all too well today, failed to do what it proposed—it didn’t give us more time.

A bit later, in the 1980s, American author, educator, and businessperson Dr. Stephen Covey proposed the idea of the Time Management Matrix. This matrix pitches urgency on the y-axis against importance on the x-axis. Use this to score your tasks, and you can work out what you should be doing next.

Both models are still used today. And there’s no denying that efficiency and prioritization are valuable tools. But is there a better way of ensuring we make the most of all those precious hours in our day?

Is there a way to actually create more time instead of just shuffling it around?


Are You a Multiplier?

“You cannot solve today’s time management problems with yesterday’s time-management thinking,” Vaden continues.

That’s where multipliers come in. They’re the virtual thinkers of the working world. Multipliers add the measurement of significance to the efficiency+prioritization calculation.

They ask, “How long is this thing I’m doing going to matter for?”

In other words, they give themselves the “emotional permission” to think about what they can do today that will benefit them (read: create more time) in the future.


You’re Always Saying No

“What you have to realize is that you are always saying no to something,” Vaden reveals. “Because anytime you say yes to one thing, you’re simultaneously saying no to an infinite number of others.”

Vaden and his team created a system to help people determine what’s essential and what’s not. They called it the Focus Funnel, and it breaks down like this:

  • Eliminate: Start saying no more often
  • Automate: cash in on that “return on time invested”
  • Delegate: don’t let negative thinking like “they won’t be able to do it as well as I can” get in the way of training people to take on some of your tasks

So what happens if you can’t eliminate, automate, or delegate a task?


The Power of Imperfection

Don’t be afraid to permit yourself to be imperfect—just for a little while.

Ask yourself if the task can be done now and if the answer is yes, concentrate on it. If the job can be pushed to a later date, “procrastinate on purpose.” And that means leaving that task at the top of the Focus Funnel until the time comes that you can either, you got it, eliminate, automate, or delegate it.


Have you tried using the Focus Funnel before? Or is it something you’re going to add to your day-to-day work process?

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