About the Author
My name is Michael Kribus.
For years, I struggled to keep my head above water when it came to dealing with the overload of information presented in my life. I have often experienced a pile of to-do lists and deadlines creeping up on my desk.
Ever since elementary school, I loved working with computers and gadgets, and computerized systems were the centers of my life until I graduated from university. I developed software for many public companies and simultaneously worked as an instructor for software applications. As the years progressed, I found myself in the position of R&D manager for a large software company, but then I realized I would rather work with people most of the time, rather than sitting down with my head buried in writing computer applications. I was looking for a change. So, I explored my other opportunities.
Since I was also interested in man-machine interfaces, I quickly found myself working as a UX (User Experience) advisor for large and small projects, and designing their visual appearance. I was particularly thrilled by software interfaces and how they reacted to users; it seemed to me back then that computers were the gods of the new age!
Hence, my new career evolved with me becoming a systems analyst and later moving on to product management, which I have worked in for the last 28 years. Just to share a few details with you about who we are and what we do, product managers are people who care and dream about how their products look, work, how they would serve their users, and what kinds of benefits users can gain from them.
This was when I began to have challenges. Because I had to simultaneously work on so many projects with so many things to do, I tried over and over again to find an effective way of managing my time. I knew I needed to structure my day, but I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.
I had to be reminded by my colleagues and managers—more than once—of important tasks that needed to be accomplished. Sometimes when these new projects were introduced to me, or an urgent ad-hoc task was presented, I would feel like the ground was shaking underneath me. I drowned in hundreds of unread emails. For my colleagues’ emails to be read on time, they had to simultaneously send me an SMS! At any given time, I would have so many to-do items piled up for weeks, none of which got the proper attention.
So, my search began.
I downloaded almost every popular time and task management app you could think of. In fact, I spent hundreds of dollars buying every one of them—all to no avail. It was with great disappointment I discovered I still couldn't manage my time properly.
I could not perform and take the necessary steps needed in my daily work to achieve necessary actions on time.
Because of my lack of proper time management, I took large pieces of work home. So, after dinner and family gatherings, when everyone went to bed, I would start another work session of 2-3 hours, which would usually follow a 10-11-hour session of work back at the office checking emails, writing documents, preparing presentations, and so on. People called me a workaholic, but I knew I wasn’t one; this was merely a version of myself that was unable to fit my job and responsibilities into regular working hours. On top of that, sometimes during weekends or even on vacations, I would also work for several hours non-stop, at the expense of spending time with my family and friends.
After so many years of struggling to find an effective way to maintain order out of all the information and chaos around me, I finally accepted that I was stuck in my way of life and felt there was nothing I could do about it.
Then one day, while I was watching a TV show, I had a revelation. The TV show was explaining the principle by which air traffic controllers work. It demonstrated how they handled incoming and outgoing flights. I thought to myself: EUREKA! The method of accurately controlling and managing my to-dos was patiently waiting in my brain for activation.
I realized using physical objects so that things are more visible and accessible to handle information and communicate was a more realistic approach, and it had a much greater impact on my mind. It created a living environment, which then created a responsiveness and awareness towards what needed to be done.
Today, at the age of 46, and after four years of developing this method, I have come to my nirvana. When work comes at me, and I have numerous queries, requests, or commitments I need to attend to, I have the most self-assured feeling I have ever experienced in my life; I feel like absolutely nothing can rock me off my chair. I can give answers to my team with ease, confidence, and with much more accuracy than I have ever been able to in times past.
I work with confidence, high self-esteem, and I perform four times better than I have in the past (according to my friends at work), and now, I never take my office MacBook Pro back home!
The only way I can describe how I became aware and engaged with my obligations and commitments is to present myself as a “time bender.” Really. I have total control of my day. I feel like a magician that can bend the rules of time and see into the future to control my present time.
I am now the master of my time