How Do You Manage Your Time?

I was at the HBS Facebook award presentation event tonight and was fortunate to be able to meet Mark Zuckerberg briefly (congrats Mark on the award!) and asked him this question:

“How do you manage your time?”

Mark smiled and stated “Oh…. that’s tough. I met with Steve Ballmer, and he asked me that question.

I told Steve: “Well, I spend 30% of my time recruiting, 25% of my time working on product related stuff, some % of my time out speaking, etc.”

Steve replied “Well, I spend 12% of my time meeting with X, 8% of my time on Y, 4% of my time on Z. Also, I have two people who help me keep this schedule. But the important thing is to keep some of your time free. You have to stay leveraged — you need time to work on what you think is important as it occurs to you. You need time to prioritize that thing that comes up while it’s what you’re thinking about.”

So, I try to keep some of my time free. It’s more fun that way, and I get more done because I’m working on things that inspire me.

Time management is a really, really difficult task for entrepreneurs. As the company grows, you tend to be connected to so many things that it’s hard to untangle yourself from the critical path and before you know it people inside and outside the company will fill your schedule with meetings, calls, and projects leaving your out of control of what you do with your time. It’s nice to be wanted, but this ends up sucking both for your company and for your life because you end up feeling like you can’t do a good job at anything and end up being a terrible drive-by manager for anyone who works with you. “Hi, here’s my opinion, gotta go bye!!!”

Good point, Mark and Steve! I’m going to see if I can leave some time free to work on the inspirational ideas while they are still fresh. Anyone else have good ideas for managing your time in a startup environment?

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