This week I read a remarkable book called “How to Live on 24 Hours A Day”. The author, a man named Arnold Bennett talks about a basic concept: time management.
He observes that most people waste away the 24 hours that they are given daily and even provides suggestions on how to make the most of our time.
Sounds pretty basic, right?
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You must be thinking that there are thousands of books out there on this very topic. What could possibly make this book stand out from the crowd – so much so that I am actually calling it “remarkable”?
Well, ponder this: “How to Live on 24 Hours A Day” is a time management book that was written in 1910.
That's right 1910.
Enoch Arnold Bennett was born in 1867.
The One Thing That Has Not Changed
But one thing is still the same.
It remains that there are still only 24 hours in a day – no matter which way you look at it.
And people at the turn of the last century apparently struggled with managing their time just as we do today.
Time Does Not Discriminate
Bennett begins his book very creatively. He calls the chapter “The Daily Miracle”. Think about this:
In the realm of time there is no aristocracy of wealth, and no aristocracy of intellect. Genius is never rewarded by even an extra hour a day. And there is no punishment. Waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you.
Bennett, Arnold (2012-05-17). How to Live on 24 Hours a Day (p. 1). . Kindle Edition.
And it's true.
Everyday we get 24 new, gloriously blank hours to fill as we see fit.
Yet some people accomplish so much and others so little.
And digging even deeper, some days we accomplish so much and other days so little.
Our Biggest Downfall
In the words of Bennett, our biggest obstacle in accomplishing our goals is our desire to do too much.
Today we call it “overwhelm”.
How many times have you sat down to work but had no idea where to start?
This very day, my mental to do list includes personal and business finances, blog posting, reading, listening to webinars and podcasts, laundry, driving the kids around to their activities, marketing my business and serving my existing clients. I could add about 50 more things.
All that in 24 hours?
Why even start when it's an uphill climb – and a steep one at that?
Regaining Wasted Time
Bennett's solution begins with regaining wasted time.
It was true back then and it is still true today – there are things that we do that are not important to furthering our personal and business goals.
Do you check Facebook or Twitter constantly? How about that Words with Friends game that you play with 20 people?
A minute here, ten minutes there – and you've quickly used up one or more of those precious 24.
Not only can we waste time by doing unimportant things, but we can also waste time by losing focus.
Sometimes a daydream just sneaks into our thoughts and other times we outright procrastinate. Things don't happen because we don't want to do them.
Either way, times a' wastin'.
And the way that Bennett writes it – in the conversational style of the day – had me laughing all the way through the book:
When you leave your house, concentrate your mind on a subject (no matter what, to begin with). You will not have gone ten yards before your mind has skipped away under your very eyes and is larking round the corner with another subject.
Bring it back by the scruff of the neck…
Bennett, Arnold (2012-05-17). How to Live on 24 Hours a Day (p. 13). . Kindle Edition.
Yes, bring it back by the scruff of the neck and focus on what you need to do.
Why This Book?
If you are looking for ways to improve your time management – then this book is a great place to start.
- It's a classic.
- It's a funny, witty, quick read.
- It's free for Amazon Kindle and probably in ebook version on other platforms.
- And it gives you that the more life changes, the more it stays the same.
I do have to say that the ending is a bit abrupt but I won't hold that against the author.
Have you read “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day”? Let us know what you think in the comments below – and also share your favorite time management titles with us.
Don't Have a Kindle?
I am a big fan of the Amazon Kindle and am crossing my fingers for a Kindle Voyage this holiday season.
But even if you don't have a dedicated Kindle – Amazon has apps for just about every platform (Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android and more).
Many of the old classic books are now in the public domain which means that they are free in ebook format. I find the Kindle platform to be an easy way to consume literary classics and modern works as well.