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The Top Performer’s Field Guide: Kakeibo


“Time is, time was, but time shall be no more.” -James Joyce

by Jeff Standridge

In many Japanese homes, you can find a simple notebook. Likely dog-eared from use, the notebook is always easily accessible, not far from anyone’s reach. Pulling back the notebook’s cover would reveal a neatly kept household accounting journal. At the head of each month, there is a record of one’s income subtracted by fixed expenses. That subtotal has a deduction for one’s savings goal. The final set of entries are a handwritten ledger of every yen that has been spent during the month. At the end of the month, one’s spending is compared to the savings goal, and an evaluation of the resulting financial performance is conducted. The budgeting system is known as kakeibo. It was introduced in Japan over a hundred years ago, and even the digital age has not yet transformed the process into a smartphone app.

The theory is that when one takes the time to write down spending and evaluate those patterns, financial performance becomes part of a habitual, daily mind-set. As brilliantly simplistic as the system is for finances, the same principles can be applied to any management of resources. What would you discover about your time management skills if you applied the kakeibo system for one week? Your income would be replaced with the 10,080 minutes in a week. Our time overhead would be measured as sleeping at least a healthy seven hours a night. Work and leisure activities would be logged as spending money, just like in the kakeibo system. At the end of the week, an honest review of how you spent your time would shed a bright light on your inefficiencies. This process is something that I often coach executives and sales persons to complete. It truly is enlightening.

If your first thought was, “I don’t have time for that,” you’re likely already mismanaging your time. If we don’t have the time to evaluate how we spend our time, what do we have time for?

Kakeibo: Accelerators

  • For the next week (preferably two), keep a record of how you spend your time … in fi ft een-minute increments. (Stop complaining, just imagine you’re an attorney and you’re billing for those fifteen-minute increments.)
  • At the end of the process, categorize your time into the major, similar categories and tally the hours and percent of the total for each category.
  • Assess whether the way you’re spending your time matches your performance priorities.

READ MORE: The Top Performer’s Field Guide: So, You Want to Be a Top Performer, Huh?

Jeff Standridge

Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author ofThe Innovator’s Field GuideandThe Top Performer’s Field Guide.”  He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas.  Jeff spends the vast majority of his time helping organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at

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