In this series of Time Management Masterminds, I interview professional leaders to understand their techniques to overcome the challenges they face in their daily life and how they manage their time.
In today’s interview, you will learn how Benedicte uses discipline and strong organization to manage her time efficiently.
Benedicte Jacques Gardner is a Managing Director in a top Financial Institution. She is based in Singapore and spends her time between 2 offices. She manages a team of 15 managers. She nicely accepted to share her experience on time management.
The Routinologist: Benedicte, do you have any particular routine?
Benedicte: I wouldn’t say I have routines, but I use to wake up early. This actually gives me more time during the day. In general, I am the first one at the office and this gives me some time to focus on important tasks. I leave the office around 6:30pm and I come back home to spend some time with my family. I use to reconnect to my work from home after the diner. I practice sport 2 to 3 times a week, usually in the morning. Unless I book a lunch appointment, I use to eat at my desk during short breaks. I bring my food from home. This helps me avoid eating junk food.
TR: How do you organize your time?
Benedicte: I know the pitfall of spending an entire day in meetings and realize at 6pm that you didn’t really start your day of work. I am very organized and I receive strong support for my assistant who knows what are my personal rules to manage meetings:
Time blocking: I use to book some time blocks in my calendar to work on important topics. These slots are particularly important for me to take distance with the day to day. In order to take proper decisions, the quality is more important than the quantity.
I use to book some time blocks in my calendar to work on important topics
My assistant is supposed to accept up to 5 hours of meeting everything day. In reality I frequently have a bit more,
My meetings last 30 to 45 minutes,
I don’t accept back to back meeting. I recommend to be very careful with the back to back meetings. You think you will manage it but you will not. Meetings will take your time and energy and you only start working when everybody else will be leaving.
TR: What is your planning during the WE?
Benedicte: Since I am very packed during week days, I spend my Saturday to manage all the personal stuff (apartment, shopping etc.). Sunday is for us the family day and all activities are oriented around the family.
TR: Benedicte, do you still use a to do list?
Benedicte: At the office, I actually lost the habit of having one. I have trust in my assistant and in my team. They manage their own priorities. They update me regularly with a tracker I have implemented and they raise urgent topics when necessary. At home, we use a sticky notes on the fridge but only for important tasks.
TR: How do you manage your emails?
Benedicte: This is a very good question. I actually follow 2 golden rules that my manager taught me:
You don’t have to reply to all emails especially those when you are copy. To make this point even more efficient, I ask to be removed from distribution lists. This is important since more responsibility uses to attract more emails.
You don’t have to reply to all emails
You shouldn’t get confused between working and communicating. In general, sending an email provides the sensation that the work has been accomplished. In reality, that is not the case. I encourage my team to send less emails and to use more face to face talking and phone calls.
You shouldn’t get confused between working and communicating
Hong Kong 6th September 2019