Business_news A CEO coach who works with executives at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation reveals the time management trick she gives her clients to help them take control of their schedules

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Sabina Nawaz.

Courtesy of Sabina Nawaz


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  • It’s often said that time is money — and it’s better for our productivity and stress levels if we treat it the same way. 
  • Global CEO coach Sabina Nawaz spoke with Charlie Herman for business Insider’sInsider Edgepodcast about the trick she uses to manage her time. 
  • Nawaz suggests creating a time portfolio, or portioning out tasks according to goals and responsibilities. 
  • Taking this approach to time management could help people to get more done during the day and save time, preventing the stress of overworking and burnout. 
  • Visit business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the age of remote work, it’s up to employees to figure out how to manage their time throughout the workday.

For many, this has caused higher levels of stress and burnout. A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that40%of workers feel burnt out from work, and44%reported feeling “used up by the end of the workday.” 

Learning how to effectively time manage could help workers better manage their schedules and reduce stress. Global CEO coachSabina Nawaz, who managed leaders as senior director of HR at Microsoft for more than 14 years, has a unique take on this: treat time with the same approach as a portfolio of money. Nawaz has an extensiveclient listthat includes Microsoft, Northwestern University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“If we say time is the ultimate currency, shouldn’t we be managing it the way we manage our physical currency?” Nawaz told Charlie Herman on business Insider’sInsider Edgepodcast.

According to Nawaz, the concept of a time portfolio allows people to handle their time with the same level of care that they would a financial portfolio. When putting together a portfolio, investors work with a financial planner to create an investment plan based on their goals, risk tolerance, and other factors. 

Workers can approach time management the same way. A manager, for example, would start with a time portfolio of a hundred percent, or a full day, and then begin to designate allotted amounts of time to recruiting, talent discussions, email replies, and other relevant tasks. Then, they would perform an analysis on how they actually spend their time compared to how they aim to be spending their time, and strategize about how they can bridge the gap and devote more of their day to the things that matter to them.

This way, you can be mindful of how you’re currently spending your time, how you want to spend your time, and what responsibilities you have on your plate. 

Consider the case of Suleikha, a senior vice president of finance and administration. Nawaztold the Harvard business Reviewthat Suleikha, a client of hers, had been working around the clock and dealing with high levels of stress without any prospect of a promotion.

Nawaz advised her to divide her core activities into seven categories, including team management, tracking projects, and so on. Then, Suleikha divvied up the percentage of time she wanted to spend on each task, and compared this with the time she was actually spending. The “time portfolio” that she created allowed her to realize that she needed to spend more time on the tasks that clearly mattered more. 

Since it can be difficult to bridge large gaps in how you spend your time, Nawaz recommends taking small steps that gradually bring yourself closer to your ideal time portfolio. She also warned against extending beyond the time that you portion for yourself, which can lead to burnout. 

When you’re overworked, you’re actually less productive. “You’re not getting that much done, but you’re telling yourself you’re getting that much done. You’re hesitant to move away from that space and take a break, which is what leads to more productivity,” Nawaz said. 

So give yourself time to rest when portioning out your time portfolio. Though it may seem like you’ll be getting less done, you’ll probably be more productive. “It’s about taking breaks in between when you’re noticing that you’re not being as productive as you need to,” Mawaz said. 

“But if I’m that tired, I’m better off going to bed or meditating or exercising, not sitting in front of my screen because that’s going to cause more of that exhaustion at the end of it – in addition to guilt.” 


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