Saving Time and Energy with the Three Gates

Steven Barnes
4 min readFeb 13, 2024

If I’m exploring the notion that the “Diamond Hour”, the concept of taking ONE HOUR A DAY that belongs to you, and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of this hour by 1% per week, the results continue to be interesting.

First, while the first hour of the day sets the tone, you could get fabulous results by taking that hour at the end, or distributing it during the day. The “Five Minute Miracle” notion is all about distributed effort, “synaptic facilitation” so an argument could be made that distributing the time is SUPERIOR. But that’s another discussion.

If you have your 5MM (a requirement for this path) you can then choose one of those breaks and start expanding. The first stop would be the “morning ritual” which is basically expanding and deepening a breathing break into a full exercise/movement session, while chanting affirmations about the MAGIC formula, visualizing gratitude, and raising energy.

Getting from sixty seconds to twenty minutes with this will demand that you SHUT YOUR MIND to the chatter that says you should be doing other things. And that you can fight that voice by constantly looking for ways to save time. Its like making a deal with yourself “if I promise to get this twenty minutes back later, let me do it now.”

So what is one way to save time? Follow the Three Gates. Unless something is True AND Kind AND useful…stay away from it.

We’ve all had conversations where you knew this was going nowhere, but you couldn’t get out of it, or worse, couldn’t motivate yourself to disengage. So let’s look at a way it can save you serious time.

  1. Is it TRUE? If you and the other person cannot agree on basic terms, there is no sense in moving to the next step: discussing what the implications of that agreement might be. Until Tananarive and I agree on where we should go, it is pointless to discuss the route. This doesn’t mean one person has to be wrong: there are existential and spiritual issues that have no objective proofs. Stumbling into one of them, not realizing that you and the other person are discussing different things (you’re talking about “Avatar” and they are talking about “Casablanca”) you will be terribly confused. Stop. Get a definition. Unless you agree on what the term means, don’t get trapped into an extended conversation.
  2. Is it KIND? If someone has an existential position that is not something that can be objectively measured in some way you both agree on, it is likely that part of their identity is based on it. If you create conflict by questioning their assumptions, they may well feel fear. This will often manifest as anger.
  3. Is it USEFUL? If you know the conversation cannot progress without agreement on basic vocabulary, and that it can trigger fear and anger if you don’t share their position, In other words, because you already know that the conversation cannot progress, WHY SPECIFICALLY ARE YOU CONTINUING, when you can see it upsets them? What is your point? Musashi says “Do nothing that is of no use.”

Viewed this way, look at your conversations. If there is an argument, look to see if you are using the same terms in the same way. “Private vocabulary” is common in in-groups, and you would be wise to gain clarity. If you can’t, why not stop then?

How do you stop without being rude? I think you have to establish that you respect and follow the Gates. At that point, you can say “we don’t agree on definitions. Therefore this conversation cannot progress. Let’s speak of something else.”

If they refuse, they are not respecting your autonomy, your right to allot your time and energy as you see fit. Each of you, both of you, have that right. What you DON’T have the right to do is demand someone else spent THEIR time and energy as YOU see fit. It is not true (you don’t owe them that) it is not kind (to either of you: you already know this conversation is doomed) and not useful (you will never get that time and energy back.)

Just committing there, and meaning it, can save you the time you need to actually course-correct your life, a few minutes at a time. How much time do YOU waste on conversations when you should have known it was a useless exercise?

Take that time and energy back. Its your life: own it!




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Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.