How Bill Gates Learned Time Managements

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Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are reportedly good friends and have exchanged several tips with each other.

In response to a recent article in The Atlantic on how to be less busy and happier, Bill Gates wrote in his post on Meta’s Thread that he wished he had learned sooner to tidy up his hectic schedule.

Responding to a recent Atlantic on How to Be Less Busy and More Happy, Bill Gates wrote in his Meta’s Thread post that he could have learned sooner to clean up his busy schedule.

It took far too long for me to realize that you don’t have to fill every second of your schedule to be successful. (In hindsight, it’s a lesson I could have learned a lot sooner had I taken more peeks at Warren Buffett’s intentionally light calendar.)

– Bill Gates on Meta Thread

According to CNBC’s report, during his tenure as CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates’ schedule was “packed every minute” for 25 years until he departed from the company in 2000. In a 2017 interview with journalist Charlie Rose, he elaborated on this aspect.

  • I thought that was the only way you could do things. Gates finally learned to cut his employees, and himself, some slack after catching a peek of the Berkshire Hathaway CEO’s personal daybook.
  • [I] remember Warren showing me his calendar … he [still] has days that there’s nothing on it. You control your time … It’s not a proxy of your seriousness that you fill every minute in your schedule.
– Source: CNBC

In the same interview, Buffet told Charlie Rose that he liked to “work smarter, not harder”, a method backed by science.

I can buy anything I want, basically, but I can’t buy time.

– Warren Buffet

In a commencement speech at North Arizona University in 2023, Gates, drawing from his personal experience, conveyed to the graduates that attaining work-life balance is challenging, even for the wealthy and fortunate.

  • When I was your age, I didn’t believe in vacations. I didn’t believe in weekends. I didn’t believe the people I worked with should, either.
  • Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson,” he added. “Take your time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses. Take a break when you need to. Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too.
– Bill Gates (source: CNBC)

A Stanford University study from 2014 revealed that workers’ productivity declines sharply after working more than 50 hours per week, with those working up to 70 hours achieving similar output to those working 55 hours. Research also suggests that working too few hours can lead to dissatisfaction, as people tend to be happiest when moderately busy without becoming overly stressed.

A 2021 study suggested that the optimal daily free time for individuals is around 9.5 hours, although this may seem unrealistic for many working adults. Nonetheless, allocating more discretionary time can lead to reduced stress levels and long-term health benefits, according to the researchers.