Time-Management Secrets of the Uber-Successful

“The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus” – Bruce Lee

JK Rowling, Oprah, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet all have 24 hours in the day, just like the rest of us. None of them were born billionaires, or even into affluent families. Quite the opposite. Oprah was raised in poverty by a single mother. JK Rowling was a single mother on government welfare who penned her first Harry Potter book at a café while her infant daughter took naps. Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates all started with little more than a dream – and clawed their way to the top. So what separates extraordinarily successful people from the ordinary?

Mastery of time is certainly one attribute they all have in common. “We are all given the same 24 hours in a day,” Warren Buffet has been quoted as saying. The following strategies have been gleaned from interviews, articles and biographies – to help provide the rest of us with some insight as to how they manage their time.


  1. Do a task once – to completion.
    Answering an email, voicemail, letter… only do a task when you have time to complete it. Don’t do it part way, only to have to go back to finish it later. It drains your energy, slows your productivity and adds to your list of daily frustrations. Forget multi-tasking.
  2. Use lists.
    A successful day can be categorized as one in which you achieve three significant goals. That’s it. Over a week, that means you’re accomplishing fifteen significant goals, which quickly adds up to be sixty per month. Make your daily list with the three most critical tasks that must get done today. Then make a sub-list of the not-so-critical tasks. You will be amazed at how much this boosts your productivity.

    I started doing this about a year and a half ago, every morning when I wake up. It’s amazing when you really prioritize what needs to get done, how much more likely you are to achieve it.

  3. Schedule a start and end time for each task
    Plan how long each task will take. Start and finish at the time you set – even if you haven’t completed it. This may seem to contradict the first point above, but you will be amazed at much more you will achieve if you start holding yourself accountable for your time, and you know that in fifteen minutes you will be stopping what you’re doing and moving on to the next task.
  4. Schedule similar tasks together.
    It takes a different kind of energy to return phone calls than it does to hold a team meeting, meet with patients, or perform surgery. Most plastic surgeons are excellent at dividing their time into clinic and surgery days – but within the clinic days, subdivide your time into like activities.
  5. Carry over uncompleted tasks.
    Anything you didn’t complete today needs to get carried over to the next day. And the next. And the next, if necessary. Sooner or later, you will get so sick of seeing the same uncompleted task, it will motivate you to complete it!
  6. Repeat.
    Follow these steps religiously. Hold yourself accountable!

If you use discipline and determination, you will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you apply these strategies.

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