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Time Management: Knife Fight, House Fire, Cancer


You've got three big problems in front of you. A knife fight, a house fire, and cancer. Which problem do you tackle first? And be careful, because if you choose the wrong one, you die. Literally.


In the real world, we deal with problems not regularly, but constantly. Usually, the problems aren’t life or death, but a series of poorly strategized or executed decisions could run you (or your team) into the ground. While time management creates a daily battle, perhaps one we frequently lose, we must develop a consistent strategy for prioritization.


As we grow and deeply understand our workflows, we begin to more intuitively know which problems truly require immediate solutions, and which tasks belong to our long-term vision. It is often useful to use the knife fight, house fire, cancer strategy to identify priorities and map out execution timelines.


Here at Flowtime, we work tirelessly to improve the productivity of our users. Try pairing this strategy with a Flowtime session for incredible results.




Knife Fight: I’m no professional on the matter, but you could probably last a few minutes in a house fire. In a knife fight, on the other hand, I need to de-escalate immediately. With a knife coming at me, I have seconds to escape.


The knife fight is your highest urgency action item. These are things like projects that have an eminent deadline, or bills that need to be paid. You must identify the number one priority that has the highest time sensitivity; then execute the action items to achieve it. If you fail to execute on the knife fight, you will suffocate, and possibly terminate productivity.


House Fire: Now that I saved myself from the knife fight, I have only minutes to outrun the house fire.


The house fire constitutes medium-priority tasks that tend to be larger in size than knife fights. A house fire might be making progress on a longer-term project, or tracking milestones towards a promotion. They are tasks that can wait but are important to devote time to accomplish. For House fires, it is important to set a date to shoot for completion - otherwise, they are at risk of dragging on.


Cancer: Now that I survived both a knife fight and a house fire, I have months, or even years, to treat my cancer. If I do not address my cancer, I will not survive. However, cancer will require a much longer timeline and additional resources to diagnose, treat, and heal.


In the same way, cancer represents opportunities in your life that contribute toward a long-term vision. For example, you could be wanting to switch careers, learn a new language, or develop a new and complex skill. These are tasks that will take years to complete, and require slow and dedicated focus.


Use this analogy to set priorities within your life & build towards longer-term growth.



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