From superhero sagas to tales of heartfelt heroes, we’ve all seen movies that have touched us personally. While death-defying stunts and emotional moments are what often catch our attention, we can learn practical time management lessons from movie heroes as well.
Watch carefully: Your favorite films are filled with leadership lessons, efficiency hacks, and more. In fact, you might even spot some ideas for managing your online calendar more effectively.
Lights, Action, Camera — Your Calendar?
What can classic movie heroes teach you about managing your time? Let’s take a look:
1. Marty McFly in Back to the Future: Always Have a Plan
A cult classic from the ’80s, Back to the Future tells the tale of a teenage boy who happens to be best friends with a mad scientist who’s cracked the code to time travel. His souped-up Delorian takes young Marty McFly into the past, beginning a journey that changes his entire future.
While this movie’s focus is time travel, it can teach us a lot about time management as well. Not only does Marty need to execute a plan to the exact second to return home, but he also teaches us that every day means something.
Marty’s lesson is one we all need to hear sometimes: Don’t “float” through your days. Being deliberate about what you do — and don’t — place on your calendar is critical.
2. Will Salas in In Time: Don’t Let a Single Second Go to Waste
Justin Timberlake stars as a poor Will Salas in this futuristic film. In his world, time is considered a currency. You earn time by working, and your life ends when you run out of time. In Time is an interesting take on how valuable time really is, how some people fear they don’t have enough, and how time can be used poorly.
The movie plot focuses on the dangers of extreme class separation and the exploitation of poorer citizens. Still, just as valuable is its lesson about time management: We never know how much time we have left. Making the most of every second is a matter of doing the right things with those who matter most.
3. Michael Newman in Click: All Things in Moderation
Michael Newman, played by Adam Sandler, is a hard-working man who often values his job more than his family. One day, he comes across a universal remote that allows him to pause, fast-forward, and even mute life events.
The twist comes when Michael finds out that the remote isn’t entirely in his control. By fast-forwarding through his life, he finds himself on top of the corporate ladder — but his business success comes at a terrible cost: a broken home and serious health conditions.
Click teaches us the importance of balancing how we use our time. Wanting to succeed at your job isn’t a bad thing, but allowing it to overtake every other aspect of your life can be. When Newman sped through life to become the CEO of a major company, he came to regret trading time with his family for a successful career.
4. Lightning McQueen in Cars: Make Time to Do it Right
Lightning McQueen is an up-and-coming racer who is full of pride and ambition. On his way to a championship race, he finds himself in a forgotten town where his reckless driving destroys the entire road.
Before he can leave town to go to the big race, he’s charged by the mayor to fix the road he damaged. In his frustration and limited time, his hack-job leaves the road even worse.
To fix the road properly, McQueen has to take a more meticulous approach. In doing so, it dawns on him that if he’d managed his time better in the first place, he wouldn’t have needed to waste time redoing the same road.
With your own projects, don’t speed through things simply to get them done. More often than not, you’ll wind up costing yourself more time than if you’d done it right in the first place.
5. Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven: Give Yourself Time to Practice
While professional criminals aren’t exactly the best role models, the incredible heist pulled off by Danny Ocean is one to marvel at. With a ragtag team of shady characters, Ocean’s crew can rob three casinos on the same day.
While we don’t recommend trying this yourself, there’s certainly something to be learned from Ocean’s success: Preparation is the key to success. The team scheduled out practices to perfect their plan, ensuring the actual event would go off without a hitch. The more you plan and practice, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.
6. Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda: Focus on What You Can Do Now
Our favorite turtle guru drops a lot of truth bombs in this family favorite movie starring Jack Black. Master Oogway is a slow, easy-going fella — but when it comes down to a fight, he isn’t someone to mess with.
One of Oogway’s many thought-provoking quotes is: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”
What can Oogway’s message teach you about time management? Focus on what you can do today to achieve your goals. Using an online calendar, fill your day with productive activities. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself mulling over the past or stressing about the future. Neither will get you very far.
7. Mr. Grinch in The Grinch: Get Up Early
The most recent version of this kid’s classic features a cute, animated Grinch. Under the surface, he’s still the same cranky, older man who despises Christmas. Unfortunately for him, his entire town adores the holiday.
As you might expect, the Grinch concocts a plan to ruin Christmas for everyone. Normally sluggish and grumpy, he starts managing his time better to execute his plan. He gets up early every morning to train and holds planning sessions to work the kinks out of his strategy.
In the end, the Grinch has a change of heart. Still, the effort he put into his plan is admirable. He even pulled it off before his conversion, all thanks to his time management skills.
There are dozens of time management tips and tricks you can find in movies if you look for them. When in doubt, do what your heroes do.