March 4, 2020

51. The 1440 Principle

G’day legends!

You can get just about anything now in a minute. You can get two minute noodles, 90 second rice, eight minute abs, 60 second outdoor cleaner. It’s at the point where we now live in an almost complete on-demand lifestyle.

So what is the 1440 principle?

The 1440 principle is a concept developed by Kevin Cruze (distinguished author and motivational speaker). 1440 is not ’20 to three’ in the afternoon, it actually represents the number of minutes in a day.

Have you ever thought about how much you are able to cram into the days before you go on holidays or the day that you’ve got an urgent deadline and then all of a sudden you can just cram all this extra activity into the day?

The secret is that you’re actually maximising the minutes in a day rather than procrastinating or being wasteful.

To bring this to life we interviewed, Brendan Hawes, CEO of Blue Star. He outlines that the secret to his day is “when I’m at my peak performance it is if I live and breathe the 1440. So what I try and do is break down my day into those minute segments.”

So what do you think you can do in a minute?

You could flick off an email, a text message, you could give someone a thumbs up on Facebook, you could do 20, 30, 40 pushups. You could hug your kids. Change a nappy, for those who have young kids.

The principle of the 1440 talks about breaking your day down and identifying the different components and help you get clarity into where your time goes and what spare time you have. So we can then nail the most important tasks in our busy lives.

So let’s break down a typical day. Here is how Brendan does it:


So we start at 1440 minutes. The first thing we need to identify is, we have to sleep. So let’s assume we’re all getting our standard eight hours sleep, so that’s 480 minutes gone straight away. Now I like to eat, so I’ve allocated myself two hours of eating, so that’s less another 120.

So we’re down to 840 of our 1440 straight away.

Then we need to earn a living, so let’s assume that all of us work our standard eight hour day, not discounting those of us listening that have 10, 12, 14 hour days.

So eight hour day, that’s 480 minutes, so we’re already down to 360 remaining minutes.

Now let’s throw some gym time or some personal training time or fitness in there, so that’s another 60 minutes off, down to 300 minutes now and of course we’ve got to commute to and from work, so a couple of hours into that.

We’re now down to 180 spare minutes to do all the other key activities during our day which would include manscaping or grooming or show, shave and bathroom time. So let’s give 90 minutes to that.

We’re now down to 90 minutes and we haven’t even thought about the most important things in our day. We haven’t even looked at things like, time with our kids, time with our significant other, meditation time or purposeful time.

Not even including any time in social media or sex and relationships, for some of us that might be one minute. I guess the point is, that we need to really start to identify how much of our time and how much is left in our day.

So if we’re really down, in this case down to 90 minutes, if we’ve almost got no time whatsoever left in that day.

From my perspective, it’s all about getting the right frame and setting some realistic expectations in this 1440 every day. Some days I’m really disciplined and other days I’m a little bit looser and I feel that I lose productivity and time in my day.

A core focus for is my Most Important Task (MIT) for the day. I’m not necessarily talking about my to do list. Although often the to do list is part of my MIT, it’s not always my day-to-day work environment.

I have always been a list person. I function on lists, but my most important task is often not part of that list or perhaps it is, but it’s more of a subjective thing.

My most important task today, for example, was to attempt to get my teenagers organised for their day. They’re finishing their school year, they’ve got part time jobs and I don’t want them to be sitting in bed until lunchtime, so my most important task today was to make sure that they had something functional and purposeful to do. This was as opposed to all of the mini-tasks that fits into and makes up my work day.

Often my MIT might be that I need to spend some quality time with my wife. It might be that I need to dedicate some time today to fitness or it might mean that I have a pressing deadline at work and I need to get in there early and get ahead of the pack. It’s very much a case of horses for courses.
To be effective at all of this, you very much require some awareness at the beginning of your day or the end of the day previously, to sit down and say, “Well, what is the next, most important task for me in the next 24 hours?”

What is my MIT? Ask yourself, what can or should I bump for a more important task.

I have the numbers 1440 on my wall in my office at work. It’s a constant reminder, it’s a little bit subliminal, but at the same time it’s there front of mind.

In the past it has also been a talking point for lots of my staff, so a couple of my guys have said to me, “What is that? Tell me about it.”

That brings us to the next point about managing the time requested of you by others.

Not a day goes by where someone comes into my office and says, “Brendan, have you got a minute?” Well, we all know that one minute is not normally a minute, a minute is them unloading a problem or them trying to bounce something off me.

I really struggle with saying no, to that, “Have you got a minute?” Because by nature, I’m a bit of a giver, so I’d like to be involved in other people’s things.

A really helpful tip is that I have to lock things off, so I’ve got some non-negotiable times in my week.

I’m desperately trying to maintain a level of fitness, and also about peace of mind than anything else, but I’ve got a group of people that I go to boot camp with and it’s become a very social thing.

We’ve egged each other on and there’s a reminder message that goes out to guys to make sure that we all show up and adds a bit of peer pressure and all that, but that is a not negotiable thing.

Unless I’ve got something that’s absolutely more important, like last week, (my daughter’s graduation from school, clearly a more important a task) replaced my fitness for that that particular day, but usually I’ll lock it in and make sure that it’s visible in the diary and the people, not just my family, but also in my workplace, know that on a Wednesday, on a Monday, on a Friday that’s what I do from 5.30 to 7pm.

The net effect is, I’m almost conditioning them to fit into my allocation of those times, and my 1440 is valuable.

Another valuable tool, which I think was on one of your other Inner Chief podcasts, Greg, was this notion of allocating an hour for meetings. When people say, “Can we have a meeting tomorrow?” And the standard default is an hour timeframe, well, I’ve started to shorten that.

By now scheduling meetings for 30 or 15 minute blocks, ( and people will initially resist that and say that it can’t be done) you’d be surprised when you reallocate people’s times, that you’ve just picked up 30 minutes.
30 of your 1440, it’s a significant number.

Another big thing at the moment, this whole thing about hustle, hustle, hustle, do more, do more, do more and I’m actually a firm believer that that is often the enemy of performance, the enemy of results.

While you’ve got the 1440, one of the traps is, even if you’re getting more effective with things, I think one of the key principles is, do less and do less better. Really value components of the 1440.

Because if you just hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, you might run enthusiastically, but you might run enthusiastically in the wrong way and that’s a great tragedy.

There’s that expression where you’ve got, every minute is like a coin, you choose how to spend it, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. So it’s about making the most of that 1440.

The 1440 concept brings focus into the, “I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough hours.”

But H Jackson Brown once said that, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You get exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Leo Pastor, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa and Leonardo DaVinci.”

All of these people had exactly the same amount of time in their day as you do.

I think the secret for all of them has just been that they’ve maximised and put value into their 1440, focused on what was the important task and got on with it.

So don’t waste it, maximise it.

By Brendan Hawes and Greg Layton