Milan Stankovic
Jan 5 · 3 min read

Some time ago, I was invited to give a talk to the research community about my experience as a scientist in the busy business world. I shared a lot of counter-intuitive discoveries that I’ve made about dealing with people, companies and success. However, the most vivid reaction from the audience was obtained when I talked about time-management.

It is in the nature of a scientist to always work. A scientist never sleeps, (s)he lives to bring progress and salvation to humanity. It is not a job — it is a mission. Scientists don’t have weekends. They are never really off. Startup founders are no different, they too are people of mission. They work without limits to develop their company.

This idea of constant commitment often leads people to say “yes” to too many opportunities, leads and meetings. They simply slip into an overbooked agenda, in which there is no more time for anything.

I think having a mission is great. I don’t see how you can really be useful to yourself, to the world, without a feeling of being on a mission. However, you must always bare in mind, that in order to really contribute to your mission, you need time to think. If all your agenda is filled with meetings, it means you never really sit and think. And if you don’t think you are not only useless, you are dangerous.

In addition to the necessity to sit and think, you never know from where the best opportunities will come, and you need to have a possibility to accept a last-minute meeting should you feel an opportunity behind it, and be fresh enough to think about it, be present in it, and seize the opportunities that are at your disposal.

At first, when my startup gained media coverage, I had up to 6 meetings per day with different prospective clients, potential partners, potential hires, potential <whatever>, all in different places in the city. Following the advice of a sales coach, I never had lunch alone. I would book at lest four business lunches per week, to meet people, and open new possibilities. I did open new possibilities, I did find new clients. I had results but I was far from efficient.

During all these meetings I’ve met a lot of people, some of which are the most successful people that live in France. I realized, the more successful a person was, the more (s)he was a master of their time, and the easier it was to book a meeting with this person. It sounded like a paradox, but it actually made perfect sens. If you want to really be useful to your mission, the first thing to do is to develop a hygiene of being a master of your time. A successful person always has time for something that they want.

Being too busy is not an indicator of commitment, it is actually an indicator of inefficiency, and of something being wrong in your routines.

I am happy do discover this video, of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, saying actually the same thing. In the video, Warren Buffett admits to having empty days in his agenda. I only wish I have seen it earlier, before having to discover it through my own experience.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +406,714 people.

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Milan Stankovic

Written by

Computer Science PhD (Paris — Sorbonne). Created, grew and sold a technology start-up http://milstan.net

The Startup

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