For the Ultra-Successful, Time Really Is Money

We may think of the wealthy as those who have plenty of free time to squander, but a closer look at the lifestyles of achievers who rose to the top will reveal a select group of leaders who maximise their time and get the most out of each precious minute. Consider, as an example, financial titan and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg, who has juggled political service with a long career in finance along with his leadership of a charitable organisation. Shawn Corey Carter, better known as rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z, serves as another example with his outstanding music career successfully managed alongside a diverse and growing business empire. Meanwhile, Indra Nooyi, Chair and CEO of PepsiCo, balances her formidable business and financial responsibilities with multiple undertakings as chair or member of multiple councils and organisations.

How do these three individuals manage to excel in so many roles and succeed at multiple tasks on a daily basis? Are they superhuman, born with traits that we mortals can only view from afar with awe? While talent undoubtedly plays a part, I would contend that harnessing the power of time management is a habit born of necessity for these ultra-successful individuals—a habit that each of us can develop if we are willing to make the commitment. By focusing on four essential principles of time management, we can make time work in our favor, much like Michael Bloomberg, Jay-Z, and Indra Nooyi have done.

One crucial principle practiced by the financial elite is planning each day so that every minute counts. When running a large business or organization, each and every minute is another opportunity to make a change, learn something new, or network with others. We can consider Michael Bloomberg as a prime example of a leader who makes the most of his limited time. Soon after his final term as Mayor of New York City ended, Bloomberg immediately shifted to his next role as Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change of the United Nations. Now at a position with a global scope, Bloomberg had no time to lose and not a minute to waste. It’s a testament to his willingness to manage time properly, and an example of how successful people operate.

Music mogul Jay-Z is also a master of time management, and he exemplifies a second essential principle: avoiding distractions that waste our time and our lives. While music might serve as a diversion for some, Jay-Z took it seriously and as a result, took himself to the top. When Jay-Z released his 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt, he left his boyhood distractions behind and focused on his burgeoning music career. He knew that music is a tough business and that in order to make it, he would have to shift his focus from the streets to the studio and the stage. Relinquishing his old ways and concentrating on the music, Jay-Z made time management a habit and in doing so, catapulted himself from hip-hop newcomer to international superstar.

Super-achievers who have mastered time management understand and adhere to another important principle: tackling objectives according to priority. In essence, this means knowing what’s most important and doing it first, and Indra Nooyi certainly demonstrates this principle. At the helm of PepsiCo, Nooyi knew that changing the designs on soft-drink cans, although necessary, was not priority number one. Thus, Nooyi chose to focus less of her time on superficial changes, and instead concentrate on more substantial innovations. An outstanding example of this would be her emphasis on public health and dietary balance, including a reduction in sugar, salt, and fat in some products; campaigns to promote diet products; as well as a reduction in some portion sizes. Truly, Indra Nooyi has demonstrated what it means to focus her time, first and foremost, on what matters most.

Last, but certainly not least, is a time management principle that we must not ignore: allocating time for non-business pursuits, including family, charitable, and spiritual matters. Once again, we can look to the most successful among us as guideposts in this area. Michael Bloomberg is well known for his charitable outreach, both through his organisation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, as well as through his own personal donations. Jay-Z’s marriage to pop star Beyoncé is widely publicised and regarded as a happy and faithful. Indra Nooyi, a devout Hindu, has revealed to reporters that her faith has, in fact, influenced her life. Despite their very busy schedules, these leaders have consistently found time for a balanced life. This, in turn, has guided their business practices in a positive direction.

The fact is, wealth creators value their time just as much as their capital. In fact, they may actually place a greater premium on their time, which is truly scarce and invaluable. Looking to top leaders such as Michael Bloomberg, Jay-Z, and Indra Nooyi, we can learn critical lessons and follow the essential principles that have made them so successful.