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?uestlove's Theory of Time Management


So I was reading this esquire article … and I stumbled onto a particularly good little nugget:

Mr. Ahmir Khalib Thompson (a.k.a. ?uestlove) believes that a human being can really only do 4 things a day (possibly as many as 6, but 4 is the reality).

As an example here is what was going on the day that he did that interview with esquire (the numbers were post quote):

  1. Today I worked out.
  2. I had to edit the book.
  3. I’ve had rehearsals for the Prince show this week, too. Actually, I’m doing two books. The memoir [Mo' Meta Blues, out next month] and a coffee-table book on Soul Train.
  4. the esquire interview, and the interview was taking place just before he played a gig at Brooklyn bowl (tickets sold out in 45 seconds).

So What? Who Cares?

  1. In my limited experience on this planet I have come to realize that information from non-traditional sources can be a billion times more valuable,
  2. I find this theory as a decent working model for time management.

In regard to information from non-traditional sources. Traditionally, if someone was concerned with “time management” what they might do is go to their bookstore or amazon and purchase the top-recommended or rate books about “time management.” Here are the flaws: 1) the books are written to make money. I won’t say that this immediately negates everything as being skewed by the almightily dollar, but it plays a factor.If you have a decision to make in a book and one option will tell the complete truth and the other option will tell enough truth but make more money, the “more money” option will always win.

Non-traditional sources don’t have the loaded agenda because it is not directly related to their livelihood. 2) Expert status in something doesn’t necessarily make you a competent teacher 3) Information on topics like as time-management are frequently commoditized (meaning they all use the same body of research, statistics, strategies, and talking points, though usually with a sight spin). This commoditization means that the people writing the books are really just re-writing rather than synthesizing information.

On the other hand, ?uestlove is the perfect source for information on time-management. The guy is outrageously busy. Over 200 music credits (albums, compilations, writing, arrangement, or production), over 60 television or movie credits not including the Jimmy Fallon show, The Roots are the house band for the Jimmy Fallon show, almost 50,000 Tweets, he teaches at NYU for FUN, has has collaborated with Nike on footwear, he is working on multiple books, organizes a music festival once a year in Philadelphia. Discography here, IMDB, His Twitter

So yea, he knows how to get the most out of his time. Which brings me to point number 2:

?uestlove’s theory of time management is a good functional theory for how to construct your day.

I have run it against my own goal tracking and task lists (I have kept very detailed tracking during certain periods of my career) and sure enough he’s right. 4 things that will have a major impact on your life is pretty hard to do all the way in one day. I may soon adapt it, but at the moment I am adopting it and see how it plays out.


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