TM Article 10
What I Learnt
about Time Management from Brian Tracy
by Rajen Devadason
You have to procrastinate on something.
Therefore, procrastinate on small tasks.
assuming you've chosen to read this
article because you understand the
importance of time management. In my
opinion, some of the finest
teachings in the linked disciplines
of goal-setting, time management and
productivity enhancement today come
In fact, the
personally most valuable lesson I’ve
learnt from this icon is the awesome
value of spending time defining my
major goals and then working only on
tasks and projects that bring me
closer to them!
Before reading any further, please ask
yourself if your life is as awesome as you
dreamed it would be when you were a child.
Tragically, most people would
have to say no because of distractions,
temptations and obstacles that have arisen
throughout our growing up and adult years.
Thankfully, while there is breath, there is
This is an article on key time
management and personal productivity
lessons I learnt from the eclectic
Brian Tracy. I hope you enjoy
reading it. But if it isn't what
you're looking for, you're welcome
to search for something that better meets
your needs. Thank you for allowing
me to serve you.
As I write this in early November
2011, I think back to a brief chat I had with
Brian Tracy when I attended the National
Achiever's Congress at the Putra World Trade
Centre in Kuala Lumpur many years ago. It was
soon after I had heard him speak to the
thousands of us who were there to learn from him
and other outstanding speakers.
I remember thinking it had been
quite hilarious that every speaker on that
platform who had gone on before Brian Tracy made
reference to the tremendous lessons gained from
him through his books, audio programmes and live
events. And I do mean every
When it was his turn to speak
from that large stage, I was mesmerised. I
remember in particular Brian's crystal clear
teaching on the ways to best phrase key life
goals when writing them down.
Later on that day, during one of
the event coffee breaks, I walked to him and
grabbed the opportunity to request an autograph
on his workbook that was bundled with an
extensive audio learning set I had eagerly
bought as soon as his speech had ended. Brian
graciously signed my workbook and then made time
to talk to me.
In the intervening nine years -
if memory serves me well that encounter was in
2002 - I've spent hundreds of hours listening
and re-listening to Brian's audio programmes as
I drive long distances to meet with my own
financial planning and retirement planning
clients or on my iPod as I exercise.
What lessons should you extract
from my own 'Brian Tracy' experience? Well, I
believe it makes sense for every single one of
us who wants to achieve more in life in terms of
spiritual, physical, family, social, emotional,
career, finance and personal
progress to take the time to look for mentors
and teachers who know their stuff and who are
able to impart their wisdom in a form that best
Some readers of this article will
not know me at all and may simply have stumbled
upon this page because it popped up during an
online search. But most readers who stop by here
are likely to be people who have been my
clients, listeners or print-based readers
who have followed me for years. If you're in
that second group, then I hope you will benefit
greatly from my following thoughts on time
management, which largely stem from what I've
learnt from Brian Tracy:
None of us knows how long we have
left on earth. Only God knows that answer and He
mercifully doesn't usually share it with us! But
whether we have many long decades or only a few
short years ahead, there is a burning fire
inside the most motivated among us to live a
life of significance that matters to other
people. I'm assuming that's how you feel.
So, please do note that the
price of not living a well-managed life is to
run the risk of slamming into a dark, grim wall
of regret like Shakespeare’s King Richard (in
Richard II), who said:
“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”
avoid such poignant regret, I believe each of us
should aim to improve the quality of all eight
dimensions of life, which I mentioned earlier.
Every person is different; therefore the
relative importance of spiritual, physical,
family, social, emotional, career, finance and
personal development will vary.
Another key lesson I learnt from Brian about
personal leadership is that we are most
effective when we set goals that pertain to us
personally and not when we unwisely attempt to
set goals for other people. A classic example of
a goal that is a definite non-starter would be:
'My goal is to have Susan/John love me."
can't truly set liberating, empowering goals for
anyone other than the person who stares back at
us in the mirror.
think through each of the eight dimensions of
life I've already listed twice and set
individual goals that matter to you in each
dimension that you care about. If you don't have
any ambitions in one or two of those dimensions,
for now, don't worry about it; just focus on the
dimensions of life you do care most about.
exactly should you go about doing all this?
the principles remain the same for all key
dimensions, I’ll illustrate the process with a
best known definition of financial planning
comes from the Certified Financial Planner Board
of Standards (check it out at
“Financial planning is the process of meeting
your life goals through the proper
management of your finances.”
me, the two most important phrases there are:
‘meeting your life goals’; and
‘proper management of your finances’.
First, to succeed financially (or in any of the
other seven dimensions of life) you must meet
your life goals. But you can’t do so until you
know what they are!
to come to grips with what matters most to you,
set a few minutes aside each day to kick your
shoes off, put your feet up, and just daydream
of a perfect world – your ideal future!
yes, this exercise in dreaming of an absolutely
perfect future is yet another lesson I learnt
from Brian Tracy!
you do so, observe where your imagination takes
you. What’s your ideal world?
What does it look like, feel like, smell like
and taste like?
You’ll find it hard to begin this exercise, but
if you persevere, you will get the hang of it.
Take written notes.
Second, ask yourself: What do I need to do, whom
do I need to become, and what should I give up
to achieve those dreams?
Prioritise those dreams. Then transform each one
into a bona fide goal using the WPPTPT
formula (best remembered in this form:
Here's what I mean by that cryptic abbreviation.
down your goals in the Personal, Present
Tense and Positive form. Then add
a challenging but realistic Time-based
deadline to each one. (This exercise is so
potent I consistently teach it to my best
financial planning, retirement planning and life
planning consulting clients.)
famous study carried out at Harvard University
showed that among a class of graduating MBAs in
1979, 84% had no goals, 13% had goals but had
not written them down, and only 3% had
well-formulated written goals.
decade later, in 1989, that 3% was earning, on
average, ten times more per person than those
without written goals!
This study corroborated a Yale University one
carried out about two decades earlier.
Almost everyone I speak to says that earning
more money would make life better. If that's how
you feel, I urge you to focus on learning key
time management skills that will bump up your
personal productivity... a lot!
Toward that end,
suspect the wisest thing you can do this week is
to begin identifying your key lifetime goals.
Then rework your daily and weekly schedules so
you ONLY work on those tasks that move you
closer, ever closer to your goals.
warned, though, there’s a price to pay:
succeed, you’ll need to delegate (or abandon)
all other activities that don’t move you nearer,
ever nearer, to your perfect, idealised future.
Remember: A major tool of your success is your
diary, organiser or PDA!
succeed even more, you'll also need to accept
the truth that none of us can do everything that
lands on our laps or is slammed on our desks. As
the wise Brian Tracy once noted, "You have to
procrastinate on something. Therefore,
procrastinate on small tasks."
© Rajen Devadason