The 3 Dimensions of Time – from PhilosophersNotes

This is a guest post by Brian Johnson of He is the creator of PhilosophersNotes + Optimal Living 101 + en*theos. He is also the author of the book, A Philosopher’s Notes, was featured in the documentary Finding Joe and have an Optimal Living column in Experience Life magazine. This article is posted with permission from 

“One-dimensional thinking: ‘Managing your time’ by doing things fast and efficiently in order to try to squeeze more into whatever time you have available. This is like running.

Two-dimensional thinking: ‘Prioritizing your time’ by the Urgent and Important grid to borrow time from one area of your life to focus instead on another. It’s the skill of putting one thing in front of the others.

This is like juggling.

Three-dimensional thinking: ‘Multiplying your time’ by adding in the calculation of Significance. And to specifically give yourself the emotional permission to spend time on those things today that will create more time tomorrow.

This is like planting seeds.”

—Rory Vaden from Procrastinate on Purpose

Rory kicks the book off walking through his thoughts on the three dimensions of how we can relate to time. We want to move from trying to manage our time and/or prioritizing our time to MULTIPLYING our time.

Most of us are familiar with Stephen Covey’s four quadrant model of time management where activities are either Urgent or Not Urgent and either Important or Not Important. See the Notes on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for more.

Basic idea: We want to spend more in Quadrant II (Important but Not Urgent) and less time putting out fires in Quadrant I (Important and Urgent). That’s an improvement on the prior model that simply had us work harder and, hopefully, more efficiently.

Rory adds a third dimension: What he calls Significance.

We need to analyze our activities based on the LONG-TERM benefit and, specifically, whether that activity will increase the amount of time we have tomorrow. Helping us identify the next most Significant thing we can do so we can Multiply our time is what this book is all about.

Here’s how Rory puts it:

“Once ultra-performers realize that you can’t manage time, and there is a limit to borrowing time, they intuitively learn how to multiply their time.”

How in the world do you multiply your time?

Simple. And the next sentence is the singular core message of the entire book:

“You multiply your time by spending time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow.”

P.S. Let’s take a quick look at the 5 Permissions that help us do that!

“It really isn’t about time management; it is about self-management. And as I started to research and ask, study and observe exactly how it was that these people were going about spending time on things today to give themselves more time tomorrow, I discovered that the most successful people in the world have all given themselves one big thing that the rest of us have not…


Specifically, they have given themselves five permissions that the rest of us have not. It is those five permissions and the frameworks they use to determine when to employ them that enable them to do what no one else can: multiply time.”

The 5 Permissions!

Here they are:

  • Eliminate: The Permission to Ignore.
  • Automate: The Permission to Invest.
  • Delegate: The Permission of Imperfect.
  • Procrastinate: The Permission of Incomplete.
  • Concentrate: The Permission to Protect.

After setting up the three dimensions of time and establishing the importance of learning how to multiply our time, Rory dedicates a chapter to each of the 5 Permissions.

Essentially, we first need to ELIMINATE all the things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place—all the time wasters, low priority tasks that don’t serve us and/or move the ball forward.

Then we need to AUTOMATE all the repetitive tasks that we don’t need to reinvent each time. Then we DELEGATE stuff that doesn’t require our unique set of skills to get it done. Ask: Does this require my unique set of skills to get it done? If not, delegate!! Then we PROCRASTINATE on the activities that are important and require our attention but aren’t quite ripe for action yet. And, finally, after we run a potential task through what Rory calls “The Focus Funnel,” we CONCENTRATE all of our energy on the next most Significant activity that will help us multiply our time and achieve our desired results!

Good stuff.

Here’s to multiplying our time as we optimize and actualize!

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