The first and most important thing to do in managing our time is to have an end goal or purpose. There are two main types of purposes that we can pursue, defined by their relationships to our external reality: intrinsic purposes (which are conceptualized to serve the individual, regardless of what the pursuance of which will cause in the outside world), and external purposes (which we create in relation to our external realities—usually in altruistic efforts to help or serve others and occasionally in other efforts to serve other more universal purposes).

We should naturally allocate more time to our own intrinsic purposes than to others, at least when we want to get ahead in life. One of the biggest issues surrounding time management for people is the proclivity to be too agreeable with others and let them and their interests take up too much of our own time and energy. Once we have made up our minds to work toward our own purposes, we then have to define what those purposes actually are—and here, another issue presents itself: what are our actual purposes? We have to define them first and then divide this overarching class of all possible problems into its smaller, more manageable components. When we try to take on all of the many problems that we have at once, we are essentially cutting the heads off of a hydra, just waiting for them to grow back. Sometimes, getting to the roots of our problems is only done by dividing these problems and focusing on what we can fix immediately. In this way, we are much less likely to overwhelm ourselves.

Our own personal goals say a lot about our character. When starting to pursue a goal we should always ask ourselves why it is that we are going after what we are, and whether or not this goal being met will lead us to happiness and wellbeing in the future. Our state of mind when formulating purposes alters these purposes just as much as our character does. We cannot rightly come up with goals when we are feeling down, as we are usually ruminating or not thinking of the future when we feel negative. A positive state of mind, on the other hand, can make us look toward the future in a much different light, one that is often more helpful when considering that we are around 30% more intelligent overall when in a positive state of mind. Excess positivity does, however, tend to lead to naiveté, so we will always do well to keep our optimism obedient to reality.

Our own perceptions shape our reality more than any other factors within our lives. If these perceptions err to one side of the temperamental spectrum too heavily, then we are bound to be pulled back into reality, our rose-colored glasses torn off our eyes and trampled under the foot of realism. What more, these perceptions (along with our actions) are the only things in our life that we have complete control over, so managing these perceptions is always more important than trying to influence our external reality. This concept applies to time management, as well as all other aspects of living.

People who keep their personal goals in their heads are 10X more successful in life than those who have none, to begin with. This statistic applies to every facet of waking life. Those who write down their goals see even greater returns though, being around 30X more successful than those with none. The act of writing down a goal alone increases the odds of meeting the goal by 42%.