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Time management, subtraction as a life motto

3 min read
Aleh Zasypkin
Creator of


Today, I want to talk about time management, but don't worry, I'm not going to give you another lecture on task prioritization or the importance of a good sleep schedule (although those are important too!). You've probably come across numerous articles covering those topics already, some helpful and others not so much. Instead, I want to share my personal experience and focus on a key aspect that has greatly influenced how I make the most of my time: subtraction. Subtraction, in this context, refers to the removing things, commitments, and plans that don't clearly align with my goals and overall happiness.

In a typical day, here's how my 24 hours are distributed: I spend about 7 hours sleeping and relaxing, 8 hours working a full-time job, 1 hour for physical exercise, roughly 2 hours for meals throughout the day, and 1-2 hours for unavoidable daily tasks and chores. That leaves me with only 4-5 hours each day to pursue other interests outside of my job, like working on, writing this blog post, or having fun tinkering with random hardware devices.

Having 4-5 hours each day may sound good, but the real challenge is that not all hours are equally productive or aligned with my plans. It's frustrating when I have to attend a work meeting passively while my brain is in a highly productive state, or when I feel mentally exhausted after a long work week, and I still need to deliver a new feature for I've tried all sorts of methods to organize my day, shuffle work tasks, and get into a productive mode. But you know what works best? Just ruthlessly getting rid of anything that's not essential.

For me, it's easier to identify what I don't want than to figure out what I truly desire. I apply this "method of exclusion" to many aspects of my life: personal projects, work meetings, email replies, books, articles, movies, even furniture and food. Many of those things that aren't truly important to me and seem harmless at the moment come with the second price:

  • The second price of a book, article, or video that I keep as a pinned tab, convincing myself I'll get to it someday, is the nagging sense of guilt whenever I see that tab.
  • The second price of a work meeting without a clear agenda relevant to me isn't just the time it consumes (which is the first and most important price), but also the expensive context switch.
  • The second price of buying yet another shiny microcontroller without a specific project in mind is the distraction it creates every time I spot it while tidying my "home office."

All these little things accumulate, turning your time and energy into a leaky bucket, slowly draining away day by day. Once I started aggressively eliminating these distractions from my life, I regained control and found myself doing more of what truly brings me joy and helps me progress!

I'm really curious to hear how you manage your time in this chaotic world overloaded with information and distractions. Please share your experiences 馃檪

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