"Compound" time is the new time management

by Pamela Ng 16 Feb 2020

In the minds of many business (and even non-business) people, time is money. But to put in more practical terms, time affects success. However, having ample time isn’t always enough. What truly matters is how that time is used. Thus, many successful people use the concept of “compound time” to achieve their goals. 


What is “compound time”?


“Compounding time” is basically the practice of using a few hours each day to do actual work, while using the remaining time to read and build ideas. You “compound” it by keeping it separate from the rest of your day, allowing for greater focus and productivity. This also means that greater freedom is afforded to idea generation and planning, which are just as crucial as getting one’s hands dirty. After all, new ideas and innovation are what drives and optimises plans down the road. While this may seem like you won’t get as much done in a day, it payoff is realised in the long-term when your plans come into fruition.


How to track “compound time”?


Using a journal is a major plus in helping you to keep track of your tasks and how you use your time. As it is physical and handy, it can be a reminder for us to take another look at what we are currently doing and work to improve on them. Tracking is especially important during the initial stages of a first-time practice. Life has a way of distracting us from even the most important of tasks, so having something tangible to refer to can be of great help when it comes to keeping us focused and on-task.


How do successful people use “compound time”?


When they are not working, successful people use their time to nap, read, exercise, engage in conversations or experiment. These are possible with the use of compound time where one has the luxury of time to carry out these activities to reap maximum rewards and optimise productivity.




Having naps can not only help to increase productivity but it can also help to improve creativity. Avid nappers include Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Margaret Thatcher, Salvador Dali, people with fine minds and exclusive creativity.




Reading fills in the gaps of our minds and can provide us with vast amounts of knowledge, allowing us to be more creative and innovative. Even if you are reading books that are outside your field of study or work, you can apply the principles therein and augment your knowledge with them to create something new. Books serve as pathways to endless possibilities.




Exercising, whether heavy or light, can increase blood flow to your brain. This allows your brain to maximise its capacity and capability in thinking. A good example is simply walking, as this is both relaxing and stimulating, yet doesn’t exert much force or pressure on your body. Some successful people who inculcate walking into their schedule include Charles Darwin and Steve Jobs.


Engaging in conversations


When more brains are put together, it gives rise to more ideas and creativity. Conversing with people can help exchange ideas that have the potential to create something great. Better yet, if these individuals come from different backgrounds! There’s no telling just what kinds of ideas can come out of such group sessions.




If you never try, you’ll never know. Successful people use compound time to dabble in experiments with new ideas to see whether they work, and whether they work well. Even if these ideas are met with failure, the data yielded will prove invaluable to the next round of experimentation.


With compound time, you’ll realise that you can actually find more time to achieve more, hence increasing your chances of success. So instead of seeing free time as something to be spent on Netflix or YouTube, use it for something a little more productive!