Time Management

Three powerful leadership habits for more flow and less stress

Very early in my professional career, stress and overtime showed up. I discovered that, to play a balanced, high impact, long-term growth game, I need to master time management.

I learned to manage myself. I adopted a few simple habits, easy things anyone can do, and my work life transformed:

  • Keeping many plates spinning without overwhelm or overtime
  • Feeling focused, present, patient and empathetic most of the time
  • Staying calm, even during crisis moments and unexpected setbacks

This one “meta skill” is a multiplier for everything else you do!

My own time management journey

In 2008 I started reading books on the topic, implementing the main lessons, creating my own system, and continuously refining it over the years.
In 2014 I published my book Weg met Stress op Kantoor (Eliminate Stress at the Office), sharing my system with hundreds of enthousiastic readers.
In 2017 I launched my online course, the Stress-Free Work System and started personally mentoring purpose-driven leaders.
Over time, I distilled 3 simple habits which make 80% of the difference.

Do this consistently, and you transform your reality.

1. Continuous prioritization

Presence is the name of the game. And you can only do one thing at a time. So, out of the hundreds activities you can think of, which is the single most important one?

Which next task has the highest leverage, will help you make a big step (or quantum leap) forward, will make everything else easier?

You need to zoom in and out continuously. Switch perspectives between being the leader who strategically decides where to go and what to focus on, and being the one who executes those action steps.

  • Be proactive instead of only reacting to your environment
  • Stop wasting time on the urgent, non-important attention suckers
  • Continuously discover new opportunities and more efficient routes to your goals


2. External memory system


Again: presence is the name of the game. You can only do our best work, find flow, when you are fully absorbed in the moment with nothing else on your mind.

How is this possible when your mind is continuously occupied trying to remember the agreements you made, the things you want to do, new ideas and new opportunities?

Your mind is like a computer. But you are misusing your working memory (RAM) to story static information (tasks, goals, ideas). This is why you easily become overwhelmed and fail to see the forest from the trees.

What you need is a water proof external memory: your own system of categorized lists, where you store everything you need to remember.


  • Grow a reputation of being super reliable and never forgetting
  • Experience peace of mind and presence, knowing that all you need to remember is safely stored and can easily be retrieved
  • Easy planning and prioritizing because all inputs are in one place

3. Focused execution

Only when you are in a state of presence, peace and focus, you are capable of delivering your best work. Stress is the enemy of progress, so whenever you find yourself in hurry, frustration, or annoyment, stop doing what you’re doing. Make it an immediate priority to calm down and switch back to a calm, constructive mental-emotional state .

Time management is self management. To optimize your growth as a person and as a leader, you need to master the inner game. How you talk to yourself, which thoughts, words and actions you accept from yourself, and how you recognize that you are in the red zone.

  • Limit the amount of unnecessary mistakes you make (which damage your reputation and your relationships)
  • Grow a reputation of consistently delivering high-quality work
  • Be a safe, fun and easy person to collaborate with


Stay connected

Did you get inspired?

Sign up for my free community of purpose-driven leaders who want to upgrade their leadership skills: “The Leading Edge”