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Time Management Lessons from Five Famous Entrepreneurs

The most successful business people are also the most productive people. If you’re in search for words of wisdom, look no further than those who have accomplished what you aspire to achieve.

Here are five time management teachings from entrepreneurs who grew their own empires: 

Oprah Winfrey

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.”

Lesson: Don’t confuse a minor task for a nonessential one. Not everything will feel like it’s getting you closer to the end goal. But assuming you are only saying ‘yes’ to the tasks that are necessary for your business to succeed, even the small stuff holds significance to the greater picture.

Steve Jobs

“I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”

Lesson: You can’t do everything. An inventor will create new ideas and stumble upon collaboration opportunities every day. Many people want to have a piece of your time. But if you were to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that came your way, you wouldn’t have any left to do what actually needs to be done. It’s okay to say ‘no.’

Charles Richards

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”

Lesson: Time is not in control of your productivity, you are. While we do have a limited amount of hours in a day and days in a week, they should be seen as seconds of opportunity, not seconds lost. With the correct planning regimen, you can gain the maximum value out of every 24 hour block of time.

Bill Gates

“Don’t make the same decision twice. Spend time and thought to make a solid decision the first time so that you don’t revisit the issue unnecessarily. If you’re too willing to reopen issues, it interferes not only with your execution but also with your motivation to make a decision in the first place. After all, why bother deciding an issue if it isn’t really decided?”

Lesson: When you do something, really do it. One of my pet peeves is keeping an actionable item on a to-do list for longer than a few days. Every time I see it, it absorbs more mental energy that could be used for something else. Be realistic on how long tasks will take you and challenge yourself to finish it to completion within the planned time-block. Check. 

Tim Ferris

“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.”

Lesson: Don’t wait for the “right” time. Start now. Procrastinating an idea or task until conditions are “perfect” is never a good idea. Someone will beat you to the punch and you’ll be kicked out of your own ring. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be a risk taker.


What are your favorite time management quotes or lessons learned? Let us know in the comments below.

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