James Clear

James Clear quotes on time management

Author of the #1 NYT bestseller Atomic Habits. I write about building better habits.

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1

Real wealth is not about money. Real wealth is: -not having to go to meetings -not having to spend time with jerks -not being locked into status games -not feeling like you have to say “yes” -not worrying about others claiming your time and energy Real wealth is about freedom.

2

Aim to be great in 10 years. Build health habits today that lead to a great body in 10 years. Build social habits today that lead to great relationships in 10 years. Build learning habits today that lead to great knowledge in 10 years. Long-term thinking is a secret weapon.

3

5 good minutes of: -pushups is a solid workout -sprints will leave you winded -writing can deliver 1 good page -reading can finish an insightful article -meditation can reset your mood You don’t need more time—just a little focused action.

4

Be “selectively ignorant.” Ignore topics that drain your attention. Unfollow people that drain your energy. Abandon projects that drain your time. Do not keep up with it all. The more selectively ignorant you become, the more broadly knowledgable you can be.

5

Good advice I received early on: When someone says no to your request, they usually mean “not right now” or “not in that way.” Most people want to help others, but there are many priorities competing for our time. Don’t take it personally. Ask again later. Ask differently.

6

Wealth is the power to choose. Financial wealth is the power to choose how to spend money. Social wealth is the power to choose who to hang out with. Calendar wealth is the power to choose how to spend your time. Mental wealth is the power to choose your thoughts.

7

You are richer than 93% of people. Not in money, but in time. 108 billion people have lived throughout history. 93% of them are dead. You have what every king and queen, every pharaoh and ruler, every CEO and celebrity of the past would give all their wealth for: Today.

8

When failure is expensive, plan carefully. When failure is cheap, act quickly.

9

Anticipate, but don’t expect. Anticipation: You’re excited for what the future holds, but you don’t try to control it. Expectation: You try to predict the future and restrict your happiness to one outcome. Always be excited about the possibilities. Never be entitled to them.

10

Optimize for tomorrow—as in, literally, one day from now. Save to be a little richer tomorrow. Exercise to be a little fitter tomorrow. Read to be a little smarter tomorrow. 1% better every day.

11

A paradox of life is that the greatest returns come in the long-term, but the opportunity cost of moving slowly is huge. Long-term thinking is not slow acting. Act fast on things that compound. Never let a day pass without doing something that will benefit you in a decade.

12

Life is short. And if life is short, then moving quickly matters. Launch the product. Write the book. Ask the question. Take the chance. Be thoughtful, but get moving.

13

Today might be the best chance you have to take action. The longer you wait, the more deeply embedded you get in your current lifestyle. Your habits solidify. Your beliefs harden. You get comfortable. It will never be easy, but it may also never be easier than it is right now.

14

If you have good habits, time becomes your ally. All you need is patience.

15

We do not appreciate how brief and fleeting our lives will be. It is always later than you think. Time is always more precious than you realize. Realize it now and act!

16

You need focus to become exceptional at anything. You have to be great at saying no. Massive amounts of time and energy are wasted optimizing things that should be left undone.

17

3 things that help habits stick: 1) Repetition. Habits form based on frequency, not time. 2) Stable context. If the context is always changing, so is the behavior. You need a reliable environment. 3) Positive emotions. If it feels good, you’ll want to repeat it.

18

Do not wait. If there is something you wish to do, go do it. Death comes for busy people too. It will not pause and return at a more convenient time.

19

Time is the most powerful force in the universe. Nobody controls it. Nobody can stop it. If you make choices that make time your ally on a daily basis, then nobody can prevent the trajectory of time from benefitting you in the long-run.

20

Before you throw more time at the problem, throw more focused action at the problem. You don’t need more time, you need fewer distractions.

21

For years, I would force myself to write at least 25 possible titles for each article. Almost without fail, the best ideas came later in the list. The lesson: Don’t stop early. Ideas that are easy to think of are obvious. The good ideas come after the obvious ones are gone.

22

How long does it take to build a habit? 21 days? 30 days? 66 days? The honest answer is: forever. Because once you stop doing it, it is no longer a habit. A habit is a lifestyle to be lived, not a finish line to be crossed. Make small, sustainable changes you can stick with.

23

Wealth is a game that compounds. Health is a game that plateaus (and then declines). As we age, we should spend more time staying fit and less time making money. Increasingly, working to ward off the effects of aging and allowing the effects of compounding take over.

24

Build before you have to. - Build knowledge before you have to. - Build strength before you have to. - Build an emergency fund before you have to. Let internal pressure drive you today, so you can handle external pressure tomorrow.

25

The best work resists compression. The best explanations are short, but potent. The best software delivers the same outcome in fewer clicks. The best manufacturing processes create products in less time and with less waste. The shape of genius is simplicity.

26

You always hold the rights to your effort, but never to your results. Results are entitled to no one. At best, they are on loan and must be renewed each day. All you own is the right to try.

27

The events of your past are fixed. The meaning of your past is not. The influence of every experience in your life is determined by the meaning you assign to it. Assign a more useful meaning to your past and it becomes easier to take a more useful action in the present.

28

Needless commitments are more wasteful than needless possessions. Possessions can be ignored, but commitments are a recurring debt that must be paid for with your time and attention. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” —Henry David Thoreau

29

Getting exceptional outcomes in life is often about knowing when to turn it on and when to turn it off. When to rest v. when to train hard. When to save v. when to invest. When to talk v. when to listen. When to act v. when to wait. It’s not the act, but the timing of the act.

30

A practical definition of opportunity cost: If you spend too much time working on good things, then you don’t have much time left to work on great things. Understanding opportunity cost means eliminating good uses of time. And that's what makes it hard.

31

The more time you spend complaining about what you deserve, the less time you have to focus on what you can earn. Focus on what you can control.

32

If you do not like your results in a particular area it is rarely your intellect that deserves the blame, but rather where you have directed your intellect. Results are purchased by how you spend your attention.

33

Getting a PhD is far more expensive than I initially realized. The true cost of a PhD is not merely the cost of school. You lose nearly a decade of earnings during the exact period when your savings would compound the most. Even if you get a full ride, it might not be worth it.

34

Everyone ages at the same rate. One second at a time. Not everyone feels the same age. Master your health habits and you can buy yourself more time. Not everyone learns at the same rate. Master your learning habits and you can make more of the time you have.

35

The odds of success increase if: -you get more shots on goal -there is more than one way success can occur -there is a long time frame in which things can go right -you pursue a subset of strategies where the typical performance is better than the overall average.

36

When invested wisely, time compounds faster money.

37

A principle for writing, investing, and life in general: It is much easier to notice when something is working than to predict ahead of time if it will work. Take action, make many small bets, and run lots of quick (but thoughtful) experiments. Then, double-down on the winners.

38

Speed matters, but stamina matters even more. Go as fast as possible while staying fully recovered. Go fast. Stay fresh.

39

Assumptions that are good to operate by even if they aren’t always true: -The competition is smarter and better funded than you. -Without a great product, nothing else matters. -Projects will take 50% longer than expected. -10 minutes early is 5 minutes late.

40

Truly great work ages well. Hype erodes with time. Quality persists.

41

Time will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.

42

Habits account for 40-50% of your daily actions, but their true impact is even greater because your habits shape the conscious choices that follow. Ex: opening YouTube out of habit can lead to an hour of procrastination. Control that small habit and you regain the entire hour.

43

Sometimes greatness is the result of a transcendent, peak performance. But often, greatness is simply the result of a good performance repeated and sustained much longer than usual.

44

Ultimately, anyone who wishes to fulfill their potential must come to terms with the endless nature of self-improvement. Specific goals or projects may have a beginning and an end, but the process of improvement goes on forever. There is no finish line.

45

The past is a poor guide to the future of technology, but a good guide to the future of human behavior.

46

In the short-run, great managers, coaches, and leaders adjust their strategy to fit their players. In the long-run, great managers, coaches, and leaders recruit players to fit their strategy.

47

It’s impossible to live a proactive life in a reactive environment. Technology increases the number of triggers in your environment. Soon, you are reacting anytime your phone beeps or buzzes. To take back your time, take away the triggers that interrupt it. Live proactively.

48

People often hold a particular belief or state an opinion because of what it signals to others in that moment not because it will be accurate in the long run. Belonging, acceptance, and praise from the people we care about frequently overpowers the quest for truth and accuracy.

49

Your Results = (Habits) x (Time) +/- (Luck) Habits and luck both matter, but not in the same way. Luck is *out of your control* and the impact of one-off events fades over time. Habits are the opposite. Your habits are *in your control* and their impact compounds over time.

50

Apparently this Hindu saying was a favorite of Steve Jobs, who sent it out to friends on his 30th birthday: "For the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years of your life, your habits make you."

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