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How To Become A Great Time Manager



What do Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Mukesh Ambani, Warren Buffett, and You all have in common? You all share one resource, and that is TIME. On any given day, everyone has the same amount of time. Each of us has 86,400 seconds in a day. We cannot carry it over to the next day. So, managing this resource is extremely important for one’s success.


A few days ago, I happened to attend a seminar where one of the speakers was Shiv Shivakumar. He is an eminent executive and leadership thinker with experiences from companies such as Nokia, PepsiCo, and the Aditya Birla Group. The start of his speech captured my attention which goes as follows:


“Your life journey is the outcome of the choices you make. Some choices are in your control while some are not in your control. We have no control over where we started - our family background, the city in which we were born but we have can control our future and where we want to end.”


Being an effective time manager necessitates conscious planning and strategic decision-making. It also entails remaining focused and adhering to your prioritized work rather than getting sidetracked by distractions.


Start by asking yourself the following questions to see if you're good at time management:

  • Do I understand how to prioritize my tasks based on importance and urgency?

  • Do I know how much time I devote to each of my tasks?

  • Do I have to bring work home to finish it?


Let me explain through a story.


Once a professor at a university decided to teach his students about time management abilities and how to manage it properly.


He took a jar, sand, rocks, water, and pebbles to class and placed them on a table. The professor then assigned a student to fill the jar with all of the props. The volunteer student started filling the jar with water, then sand, and finally pebbles. Finally, he discovered that there isn't enough space inside to fit all of the rocks.


Likewise, the professor assigned the task to other students, and everyone attempted to fill it with all of the props but failed.


Finally, the professor began to fill the jar with rocks, followed by pebbles, and finally sand. Still, there was enough room for the professor to pour the water.


So, what is the moral of the story?


Our life situation is similar to these props. The fist-sized rocks are the key things in your life: your physical and mental health, your family - anything so important to you that losing it would have a significant influence on your life.


The pebbles are the other things in life that are important but not as important as the ones mentioned above. The pebbles indicate your career, job, house, friends, social ties, etc. The sand on the other hand represents everything else, the "little stuff" in life.


If you put the sand or pebbles in first, there will be no room for the rocks. Similarly, if you devote all of your energy and time to minor issues and materialistic pursuits, you will never have time for the things that are actually important. Pay attention to and spend time on the things that are important in your life.


The book "The Art Of Management: Managing Yourself, Managing Your Team, Managing Your Business" by Shiv Shivakumar mentions some really good time management lessons that the author had come across from leaders such as R Gopalakrishnan of Unilever, Olli Pekka at Nokia, and Indra Nooyi at Pepsico.


1. Good-time managers are organized in everything they do. They maintain a calendar and stick to it. JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s chief executive officer of asset management, Mary Callahan Erdoes, manages her calendar rather than allowing it to manage her.


2. Good-time managers come fully prepared for meetings. Being well-prepared for every meeting is a gift you can give to your organization and your team.


3. They make copious notes and the notes help them improve their memory. Good-time managers maintain journals like nobody. The entrepreneur and CNBC's "The Profit" star Marcus Lemonis prepares a list of the five things he wants to accomplish that day, and he makes sure to complete those five tasks without fail.


4. They delegate what can be delegated to others. Bill Smith, founder, and CEO of Shipt steps back when he needs to and delegates his task. According to Smith, “I know there are some areas of my work life that are best to pass off so I can keep focused on what is most important.”


5. They follow through on promises.


6. Good time managers prioritize when they see a conflict.


7. They know when to multitask and when not to multitask. It's suggested that one should only single task when full attention is needed for a topic. According to Koel Thomae, the co-founder of Noosa Yoghurt, “It’s very easy to get distracted by your inbox or phone. When I have a big project or when I need to get something done — and done well — I shut down my email, I turn off my phone, and I put on some of my favorite music.”


8. They add regular breaks in their schedule just to relax and breathe and compose.


9. They always respond. It might not be immediately.


10. They believe that time management is a multi-way benefit system. They believe that if they can manage their time well, they can influence the system.


During the seminar, Shiv Shivakumar also shared another very important lesson - “It is great if you are proud of yourself, but make sure that society is also proud of you”.


So how can you make others proud of you? Here are some of the key takeaways:


1. Always be on time

2. Invest in them

3. Be fair

4. Stay relevant

5. Contribute without expecting anything in return

6. Give your time to others

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