Time Management for Top Performers

Written by Ash Richardson

20 years digital tech and strategy experience, including co-founding #team, Accenture, MP of Oyster Partners (now DigitasLBi) and ex-VC investing in technology startups. Unique skills on product strategy, design and offshoring.

How Top Performers Manage Their Time

When managing your time – do you find yourself getting stressed during the day? Are you creating artificial stress on yourself but work keeps on piling up? Do you find yourself procrastinating? Are there plenty of external factors that impact your day that stop you from achieving what you’ve set for the day? You probably feel that you should be using your time better.

Time Management Research

We ran time management research across 25 countries with a fantastic group of participants of business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, senior managers, mid-level managers and individual contributors.

We asked them how they could innovate time management for their particular circumstances and what things they needed to protect their day. Here are the main insights from this mix:

  1. Planning Ahead: high performers plan each day the day before, or first thing in the morning, usually at a desk with pen and paper
  2. Mobile-centric during the day: they’re capturing things to do and ideas during the day on the go. They rely mostly on their calendar during the day to see what’s next.
  3. Ideas, to-do’s & reminders on the go: capturing thoughts on the go is a key requirement.
  4. Most days do not go to plan: interruptions and unplanned work take over, or they procrastinate or get lazy; high performers estimate time per work item
  5. People love crossing things off on paper: it gives off the satisfaction of actually getting something accomplished!
  6. Most run a private & work calendar: people have their work calendar with their colleagues (e.g. on Microsoft) and a personal calendar (eg. on Google or iPhone) for their private life. While some have a third calendar for family.
  7. Priorities + to-do’s + lists: most talk and organize each day around these 3x constructs, and these cover both personal and work-related
  8. Keep calendar empty for auto bookings: this is already becoming mainstream; whilst balancing the need to block out time to get things done
  9. Plan each day around how you like to work: e.g. do things other people need you for in the morning, then focus on deeper work after eating mid-morning & location factors

Questions to ask yourself for a better understanding of your time

Just write down quickly the first thing that comes to mind for you on these aspects of time management:

  1. When do I do my best deep work? If you were going to do 2-4 hours of your best work each day, when could you give your best creative thinking without distractions? Morning, afternoon – it varies and is key to time management!
  2. When do I do my best fitness training? When does fitness not feel like a chore or it’s getting in the way of other things? Carve out that time, and protect it; because that’s the time you love to train and exercise.
  3. What are the best times to be available for my family? Not just time after dinner at night or when the young kids are tired. Think about when to have the best quality time each day and how it changes throughout the week.
  4. What time do I need for thinking, recreation, learning and healthy eating? Don’t cut short on this because your well-being and happiness over time are going to be impacted by whether you have time for these things. Likewise, your career will be impacted if these things start taking over. If you’re not managing the balance between the two, it’s a two-way street.

What Sun-Thu night bedtime will give me 8 hours of sleep per night? How long does it take you to get to sleep, work your way backwards and choose a time so you start getting yourself to bed in a nice rhythm and cadence?

To learn more, you may register for a FREE webinar on time management, productivity & work-life balance to Change Your Life Overnight and Live with Less Stress!

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