Time management isn’t really so mystical.

Because how you spend an hour is the same way you spend a day — “God, I’ve been swiping through Instagram like a zombie!”

And how you spend a day is the same way you spend a month — “Ah, I just didn’t feel that motivated.”

And how you spend a month is the same way you spend a year — “Where the hell did it just go?”

Most people will lose their years as easily as they lose their hours because they fill their time with useless filler activities that distract them from their goals. (I describe those activities in detail for you below, so you’ll know what to quit or limit!)

But if you have dreams that need to be lived and businesses that need to be created, if you refuse to let another hour slip through your hands, you’ll need the time management strategies listed in this article.

So, what do you do in an hour?

Most people have several preset distractions that end up accounting for most of their hours:

  • Watching the new (…the news.)
  • Wallowing under covers (I’m guilty!)
  • Getting lost in pointless emails (Double guilty!)
  • Netflixing
  • Texting four people the equivalent of a two-minute phone call each.
  • Skimming through a dozen self-improvement articles (Sorry if I’m enabling you!)
  • Scanning through a week’s worth of Facebook feed
  • Drinking with the same people at the same bar or restaurant
  • Perusing the same sort of news stories, pretending that it’s actually new — gun violence, terrorism, Trump
  • Transitioning from distraction to distraction

The list goes on and on. Most of these habits are so normalized that we consider our dissipated hours and lives as something less than evil. (“Hey, I pay my bills and feed my family. Besides…everyone else is wasting their lives too!”)

But if you’re not as happy as you want to be, if you’re not as successful as you want to be, if you’re not fulfilled as you want to be…low-value habits are your enemy #1. They must be eliminated with a vengeance — wow, that’s dramatic! — and replaced with things that matter.

Here’s what you could do for an hour that actually matters:

  • A half-hour meditation and a full workout
  • Cook a week’s worth of nourishing food so you aren’t filling up on garbage when you’re rushed
  • Write eight thank-you cards to strengthen your relationships with friends, family and clients
  • Learn 20 new words and 10 phrases in another language
  • Reflect on your day before bed and figure out how to make tomorrow better before falling asleep reading your favorite fiction
  • Make love with your spouse up to eight times (according to the statistics for average love-making sessions)
  • Have blast burning a thousand calories playing full-court basketball, beach volleyball or whatever your favourite sport is
  • Get lost in nature for a little while to remind yourself what it feels like to be human
  • Take notes on an informative podcast (like Entrepreneurs On Fire) and change the way you think
  • Have a mastermind session with yourself to contemplate realistic-yet-challenging goals to work towards over the next month
  • Reflect on your goals from last week to see where you excelled and how you can improve to make next week better
  • Write an inspired article!
  • Make significant progress toward every daily goal you’ve created for your career, health/fitness, fun/self love, learning or giving
  • Finally get that full-body massage you’ve been putting off for half a year
  • Change someone’s life by mentoring them
  • Study up on the skill sets you’re learning to expand your business.

The list goes on and on.

But you’ll only make your hours matter to the extent that you displace your time wasters with planned, high-value activities you know you can accomplish in a day. That way, when you’re unconsciously reaching to check Instagram or texts, you can shift your attention back to your daily planner, open it up and then do something valuable for an hour. Do something that boosts your confidence — something that counts.

Limit time-wasters by scheduling your email, text and social check-ins as independent goals on your daily planner. (Here’s how to start a daily planning habit.) Most of my clients do fine with three to five scheduled visits per day. Also, consider going on a social media fast for at least a week–just to realize that there are a million more important and fulfilling things you could be doing.


You might think an hour is just an hour. But really it’s a day, a week, a month and a year. An hour is a life. So don’t waste any more of them–get serious about your time management.

When you really want to get serious about making the most of your hours, you’ll commit to an inspiring and uplifting morning routine, then follow it up directly with another hour of real work before you check messages — like I just did with this article. (Yes, I’m still in my underwear.) So cheers to making your next hour really count…and the next one after that…and the next one after that.

Originally published at millennialsuccess.io


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist, Fitbit.com, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!