If you were an airplane, what kind of airplane would you be? Most people live their life like a fighter jet, or even worse, a UFO. But in reality, the most highly productive people are like 747’s. Let me explain.

Because time is really a subset of physics, this means time management is really a study of physics. So if we apply our “physics” of time to flying an airplane, we get a picture of how realistic and effective our habits are.

  • UFO

These people think they can make instant course corrections with no adjustment time and physics doesn’t apply to them. If it takes 30 minutes to get to their 12 pm meeting, they’ll think leaving at 12 pm is acceptable and that somehow they’ll just teleport there to make up for it. Obviously this is impossible, so they’re at least 30 minutes late because movement isn’t instant.

  • Fighter Jet

At best, someone might be at this stage who has studied and applied some time management thinking. They think they can land on a dime, have cat like reflexes, and can “fly by the seat of their pants” in the middle of the battle.

  • 747

Only a seasoned and mature time management practitioner will understand that while a Boeing 747 may seem slow and unwieldy, but actually it travels 1,750,000 miles per year with almost a perfect record of no injuries. In short, it doesn’t seem as glamorous, but it’s wildly productive.

Applications:

This analogy holds true for many areas. One being that always skipping around from task to task like a UFO will only incur Cognitive Switching Penalty, and that only by flying an efficient and straight flight path will allow you to make it from continent to continent.

But sleep is one of the most pertinent examples.

UFO’s think they can just get home at any time and get up at any time, without any concern for the repercussions of their decisions.

Fighter jet’s think they only need a bare modicum of planning, and can land their plane on a ship floating on waves using a wire to keep them from flying off the end of the ship.

Only 747’s understand that “landing” in bed involves an “approach”, a steady curve, and a smooth landing with plenty of runway to not end up causing undue stress to the plane at best, or crashing and burning at worst.

Practically speaking, this means if you need to get up at 5 am, you need to be SLEEPING by 9 or 10 pm, which means GOING TO BED (beginning your descent, and landing the plane) at well before 8 pm at the latest. You can’t land a plan by nose diving it into the runway. It takes a gradual slope and a drop in elevation many many miles long to do it properly.

Sure, being a top gun fighter pilot is cool and gets bragging points, and by comparison being a commercial pilot might seem boring. But if you think you can magically go from 500-1,000+ mph (running around) to 0 mph (sleeping) in 5 minutes, you’re either gifted or mistaken (probably the latter).

So if you want to make massive consistent progress traveling towards your goals, with low risk of failure and casualties, and do so consistently day in and day out; start acting like a 747 and not a fighter pilot.