When Warren Buffett and Bill Gates sat down together with TV host Charlie Rose, it could have easily resulted in a discussion of heady topics like investment strategy. Instead, it veered toward the profoundly simple

During the segment, Gates revealed that one of the biggest lessons he's learned from Buffett revolves around time management. Buffett keeps a very light calendar, often having days where he has nothing scheduled. Gates, on the other hand, often has his schedule packed to the minute, so it was a humbling lesson on the true value of time, he said. 

"You control your time. ... sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority," Gates said. "It's not a proxy of your seriousness that you've filled every minute in your schedule." 

From there, Buffett went on to say that he could buy anything he wanted--except time, making it the most precious resource we have.

Of course, one could argue that for billionaires, even time is for sale, but we could probably agree that for the most part, when your time is up, it's up (at least for now).

However, not being able to buy time doesn't mean we can't optimize our own.

3 Lessons in Optimizing Your Time

Working With the Right People

What you're getting: As an employer, this means getting people who take the initiative, who understand your vision, and whom you won't need to micromanage. As an employee, this means working in an organization where you're trusted and valued--a situation in which you can actually grow. 

What you're giving up: Convenience--because, frankly, it's easier to surround yourself with the wrong people than the right ones. 

Prioritizing Rest

What you're getting: A dramatic boost in physical and mental performance

What you're giving up: The illusion of superpowers, for one, but also a sense of control. We tend to think that if we just solve a few more problems today, our life will be easier tomorrow. In reality, sleeping less than seven hours a night just makes the next day harder, and ironically, shortens the life that we're trying so hard to build. 

Scheduling

What you're getting: Higher output due to less time wasted figuring out what's next, and less time procrastinating. Of course, this means not just making a schedule but also sticking to it. 

What you're giving up: The feeling of freedom. But in some ways, too much freedom can definitely be a bad thing. We all need some degree of structure, and scheduling is one way of figuring out the right amount. 

At the end of the day, none of this strays very far from Buffett's or Gates's perspective

Point being, value your time appropriately, and wherever possible, develop habits and put yourself in situations that support that value structure. 

Published on: Dec 11, 2018