The Potpourri of Using Your Time

As a young kid, I remember seeing this bowl on the counter of weird looking chips. As I got closer, I realized they were not to be eaten. It also had an aroma of a variety of smells. When I asked my mom what was a bunch of dead and dried plants doing here, she chuckled and said, “It’s potpourri. Doesn’t it smell nice? It’s meant to freshen up the kitchen area.”

Now interestingly, potpourri is taken from the French phrase “pot-pourri” which according to my research literally means “putrid pot.” What’s the meaning of putrid in English? Well, it is something that is decaying or rotting that gives off a bad smell. Take it from Americans to select from another language and turn it into a product to sell. Potpourri is used across the United States and can be found in kitchens, dining rooms, and yes – bathrooms, as a natural way to improve the fragrance of a room.

Learn more from my book The Time-Optimized Life. Get a flavor by downloading chapter 1 and be registered to win a copy.

What makes potpourri distinctive is the sum total of the components. Each individual ingredient is mixed together to create a unique and appealing aroma. It is a great analogy for the use of your time. You can bring elements of how you spend your day in a unique blend of actions that will create a potpourri of time efficiency.

In my book, The Time-Optimized Life, I introduce this concept as a way to pick and choose those areas where you need improvement can create bouquet of time opportunity. How does it work?  Here is a way you can start. The five biggest time management challenges for people according to the Time Management Analysis (TMA) are: distractions, procrastination, interruptions, prioritizing a task list, and being able to say “no.”

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 For quick definitions:

  • Distractions are an internal struggle where you allow yourself to be disrupted.
  • Procrastination is delaying a task or activity even though you know it will be harmful.
  • Interruptions are external disruptions that come your way and upend your focus.
  • Prioritization a task list is making sure you put the most important activities first and work to get those done.
  • Being able to say no, is self-explanatory. It is you professionally declining something that you are not ready for or unable to take on.

After reviewing the list, ranking your top challenge to the bottom. Even if you are “good” at all of them, there is always from for improvement. Use Figure 1 to help you.

Figure 1

Now it is time to take the top challenge and look at the ingredients. You might be thinking, “These materials stink right now.” The point of the potpourri is to mix them together, work on them to turn them into a perfume of time-optimized efficiency.

Figure 2

Figure 2 highlights the factors that cause people to be challenged in their use of time. You can see some cross over in certain areas when you consider planning, process personal, and professional. When you think about proactively working on improving your time, getting better in one area can create improvement in another. Heightened potpourri in distractions can easily make your procrastination smell better. Enhanced task prioritization lends a whiff of improvement to your ability to say “no”.

With some focus and a dedicated investment of your time, you can take a time-challenged area and turn it from a pile of decayed activity and turn it into a bouquet of time enjoyment.

Learn more details on the process in my book, The Time-Optimized Life, available to order at all major booksellers.

David Buck is the author of the book “The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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