Sure, no one needs a billion dollars (although I wouldn’t say no to it 😉). It’s fun to think about what you would do with the bank account of Elon Musk or Bill Gates, isn’t it? I think many of us are fascinated by those entrepreneurs and CEO’s who build massive empires. Privilege and/or luck play some part in their success stories, for sure. But just like the rest of us, they only get 24 hours to work with in a day.

That’s why I’m so fascinated by the time management strategies that billionaires use.

Elon Musk is reported to use a system called time blocking, sometimes called “timeboxing,” which essentially just means that he schedules his entire day in five-minute increments. Yup, the SpaceX CEO leaves nothing to chance; presumably, even his bathroom breaks are pre-planned.

This strategy isn’t unique to him. Bill Gates is said to do the same thing, breaking every day’s schedule into short five-minute chunks. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, scheduled his entire day in 15-minute increments. Nathan Blecharczyk, the co-founder of Airbnb, doesn’t use time blocking but does schedule his day in reverse, planning out what he’ll do at the end of the day before planning what he’ll do at the beginning.

Want your bank account to look a little more like one of these CEOs? You could try to emulate their time management strategies. Think about it:

  • 6 a.m., wake up.
  • 6:05 a.m., make coffee.
  • 6:10 a.m., drink coffee.
  • 6:15 a.m., still drinking coffee. And so on.

Yeah, this time management system might work for them, but it is really feasible for most people? If you’re awake 18 hours a day, that’s 216 five-minute blocks to schedule every day. Many of us don’t have lives and jobs that work with this system, anyway. If you spend your day in a series of hour-long meetings, or if your work requires you to respond to client calls as they come in, scheduling down to the minute doesn’t make sense.

I do think that there’s value in learning about the strategies employed by super successful people. But in thinking about how Elon Musk and others approach time management, I’m reminded of something I often tell my clients: be careful what you copy.

We’re all wired differently, and our lives and schedules are all unique.

What works for the CEO of a tech company won’t necessarily work for a teacher, or an attorney, or any number of other professionals. (And if you’re a parent to young kids or a caretaker for a relative, I hope the idea of being able to schedule your day down to the minute gave you a good laugh.)

I truly believe that in order for your time management system to be effective, it has to be personalized. You can’t win a marathon in a pair of shoes that don’t fit your feet, and you can’t get the time and peace you crave if your time management system doesn’t fit your life.

Where do you begin? One option is to enroll in my upcoming Time Matters Boot Camp LIVE! Join us December 2-4 for this virtual workshop! You’ll learn how to take control of your time and goals in a way that works for your brain and your life. Register by November 15th to get the Super Early Bird rate of just $297!

Click here to learn more.

In the meantime, remember: billionaires may know the best five-star hotels, but they don’t know everything. There’s only one person in the world who knows what works best for you, and that’s you.



Sarah Reiff-Hekking