How do you mange your time wisely? Some life-hacks for high(er) productivity

„Your greatest asset is your earning ability. Your greatest resource is your time“
This was the quote I saw years ago on the computer of my entrepreneur friend Patrick Linden.

 

Just 3 years ago I was cramping every single minute with calls, meetings or work. 2 years ago I added a Triathlon training and 168 (!) flights in the year. It was crazy. Too crazy and I was too exhausted. So I was re-examining my schedule and tried to incorporate some of the best insights that have been shared with me over the years. I wished someone would have explained this to me 5-7 years ago as I would be a much better entrepreneur & leader.

Why is it important that you actually manage your own time?

Screenshot 2019-11-06 16.48.51Because everyone wants some part of it. And it is the greatest resource that you have. Or as Warren Buffet said: “I can buy anything that I want, basically but I can’t buy time”.
Especially draining on you & your time are the unexpected, mundane things that take away a lot of valuable time. One book that had one of the most (if not the most) impact on my time management style is the book High-Output Management by Andrew Grove. I saw it recommended by Bill Gates as one of his favourite management book. And if you have not read it yet: Just do it. It‘s practical, helpful and most importantly impactful. I also do share notes with other entrepreneurs and can recommend the articles about “The 8 habits of highly productive people”.

 

Nowadays, I follow (or at least try to follow) a strict regiment:
  • Gatekeeper: I currently have 2 gate keeper for my time
    • First, my PA who is managing my calendar. She makes sure that any request (meeting, call etc) has to go through her. I then prioritise on a weekly basis during our Jour Fixe the requests incl. what can be done by her or someone else.
    • Secondly, my calendar. I don‘t take calls that are not in my calendar. I don‘t randomly check mails (>as this is one of biggest time sucker/killer possible as you only re-act instead of pro-actively act) – I do it only 2x a day (in the morning and late afternoon/evening)

 

  • Calendar Management:
    • Synching: I have synched all my calendars (private, Alps (our investment holding), FALCON (our ad holding), FALCON Agency (our agency)). Each entity (incl my „private“) has a unique colour code so by looking at my calendar I get a good feeling of my time focus/company and upcoming activities.
    • Timing/Topic/Participant: I (or better my PA) usually marks invites in this order: 5PM (=timing): Call Mgmt Session (=Topic) FD (=Participants). I do use Singapore time as my standard time. This is especially important as I am living (and working) in different time zones.
    • Cascading of calendar: This one is especially difficult but if done correctly very impactful. I usually structure my days that I don‘t have meetings on Mondays and Fridays (as I either have to catch-up on work, finish something for this week and/or will be traveling), I have my FALCON Agency day on Tuesday (meaning, I will physically be in our agency office and mainly do FALCON Agency-related work and activities), I do my external meetings on Wednesday (usually at Straits Clan) and Thursday is my FD/Brand Nation day (=this is our holding and eCommerce business). I follow this regiment so that (a) I am fully focused on each entity and its activities and (b) everyone around me knows when I will be available for what (including the Jour Fixes I got with my leadership teams which are highly important and must be done in person from my POV)
    • Most of my private activities are also in my calendar. This includes my daily exercise & meditation (=which are non negotiable) and my study hours on Saturday (I tried several ‚blocked‘ hours from early morning to late night during the week but found reserving 5-6hours on a Saturday as most effective). I also put private dinner on my calendar so that my PA knows when (and when not) to book dinner appointments.
    • Slack time: This is something I also learned the hard way. In the beginning of my entrepreneurial career, I tried to „maximise“ my time and did not have enough slack time for pre/post-work or a toilet break. The most embarrassing moment was when I was on a conference call with the whole team and was doing the call from the toilet. The problem: the camera was on and I realised it too late 🙂 Ever since I plan 15-30min before or after a call or meeting for preparation, follow-up or toilet break.
    • An example for a usual week looks like this:
      Screenshot 2019-11-06 16.49.01

 

  • Location & Separation of Work vs. Family Time
    • As already highlighted during „cascading of calendar“ above, I am strict with my physical presence. E.g. if someone needs a signature from me for Brand Nation then they know that I am in the office on THU. Or if I have to pick up letter/mails regarding the agency business than it is on Tuesdays.
    • Another important aspect is that I have clearly separated my private and professional setting. E.g. I commute every 5-10 days for 2-3 days to Vietnam. This means that during my time in Singapore the super majority of my time goes to work. When I am in Vietnam the super majority of my time (and attention) goes to my family. I do have a home-office set up in Vietnam but Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for studying or family time.

 

Some of the FAQ I got on my time management:
  • „When do you have time to write articles?“ Good question. I usually use the time on the plane or Saturdays to write articles. These are the times when I can relax, think and put my thoughts together.
  • „What if an emergency occurs?“ Yes, this has happened. Depending on the degree of the emergency I either cancel all my (up)coming appointments and fully focus (meaning 100% focus) on the emergency or I use some of the slack time on MON, WED or THU to focus on the emergency. E.g. on my calendar example above my „slack“ time is on THU, 5th September 10AM – 12.30PM.
  • „Your life is too structured.“ Yes & No. Yes, at first it looks very structured. But I can assure you that I am not the most structured person (I will share my emergenetics profile another time), I need this structure for myself to be most effective. Also, this is the outcome of 10 years of lessons learned (and hard failures) on my own time management.
  • „Do you party at all?“ YES – I am a human being 🙂 People who know me well and/or have worked with me know that I don‘t want to miss a great party. Yes, I am (very) selective with the number of parties I attend but if I party then full-steam ahead (and usually with a half-day off the next day 🙂

 

I hope these life-hacks will help you to better manage your valuable time. I literally arrived at my gate in Singapore so I will stop writing and prepare for my next call. Cheers!

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