Time Management Skills: A Day in the Life of a CEO

   |  Updated: January 19, 2016 12:17 IST

Time Management Skills: A Day in the Life of a CEO
The day goes by in a blink. A normal workday passes by in a daze of traffic, rushed meals, long hours at work, endless cups of coffee and a dose of traffic again. We seem to be running around, trying to accomplish too much and ending up wondering where the day went.

Sounds familiar?

If that is every day's truth for you and me, ever wondered how heads of businesses and people in leadership positions manage? There are a million things they have to do, tasks they must prioritize, schedules they must stick to. If you're as curious as we were, read on.

We caught up with Swapan Seth, CEO and Founder, Equus Advertising and tried to get a peek into his diary. And we found the answer. The man never wastes even a single minute in his day. And if you find it difficult to get out of your cosy quilt at 7am, this one is an eye opener.

In the words of Swapan Seth. Copywriter, CEO, Indulgent Father, Devoted Husband, Art Aficionado and much more:

I wake up at 3.45 am every morning (you read that correctly). I don't meditate. Or exercise. Instead, I go through my Twitter timeline to see what happened while I was asleep.


I check my emails. Make myself a coffee. I then grab the news online. I never read newspapers. Except Mint Lounge on Saturdays. In spite of them sacking me. It is a heartless world.

By about 4.30 am, I start work (yes, 4:30am). It usually means sending several text messages and emails to clients and colleagues. I have, over time, got a sense of who wakes up when. It is unthinkable to get a response from Arjun Chandra, a colleague, before 8.30am. But Shalini Rao, who headed up marketing at Taj would jump into a conversation at 6am. She was the best.

By about 7am, I would have sent out at least twenty text messages and forty mails. I also have a 30 minute chinwag with my boxer, Wazza. By 8 am, I am done with all the copy requirements that my blood-sucking colleagues have posted through the night. By 8.30, I am done for the day.

On cue, I hear the kitchen telephone ring. My wife is up. By 9.30, I am exhausted. There is no co-relation between the previous two sentences. It is purely chronological.

I am usually at a loose end at work. I used to hate client meetings. But now, I love them. So I am happy to pop by and meet them. Infact, I cold call clients every day. I brazenly ask for their business. I pull out all my colleagues for a smoke every one hour. It is mandatory for them to join me EVEN if they don't smoke. Since my office is a non-smoking area, I have my client meetings outside the office.

I have several interests out of advertising and I pursue them at work. Like looking at art. Checking out a good wine. I was a tyrant at work for most of my career. Now, I am acutely approachable so I deal with sudden requests like "I need a headline". And yes, I hate noise. So one cannot speak in the office.

And my life at work is run by the electrifying efficient Sunil Mohanty. Sunil has me figured out a like a puzzle. He responds to any need of mine. It may range from wanting to have a half boiled egg at 2pm. A Reishi Extract tablet at 12 pm. Or my sudden desire to see a work of art that I had bought in 1998. It is also his job to think of my afternoon snack and to arrange for it.

I have never had a Secretary. For all that I use the Concierge Services of American Express Bank or the freshly launched service called Joe Hukum. They fetch my coffee and cake. They buy my cigarettes. They organise my pen drives. Last week, one of them went shopping for a trench coat for me. They have even helped me find my dogs.

I am usually out of work by 5.30 pm. An hour with the kids on post-school gossip. And then it is 7 pm.

That is when I start getting busy. 7-9 pm is when I am on the internet. I do not surf. I pander to the the simple rule that I follow: I must learn three new things every day. It could be anything. A new poet. A new gadget. A new singer. A new artist. A new musician. A new shoe. I am interested in each and every thing on this planet.

I also send brusque mails to colleagues (some may even call them rude). My replies to work are usually one word: nice or crap. And I delete any mail that is longer than three lines. But I read and respond to every mail. Within three minutes.

I don't socialise. No hubris at all. It is just that I am very transactional by nature. If I feel there is nothing I can learn or teach during the evening, I don't go. Which is fairly often, given that no one is really interested in knowing anything from me. And vice versa. I go out 14 days a year. On those 14 days, I either dictate the menu or beg for what I want to eat. Friends and restaurants have spoilt me silly. They feed me anything I crave.

My iPad is in my car. So I read a book every day. And I have not seen television for over a decade. By 9pm, my phone is switched off. I never read in bed. On weekends, I tend to stay in bed for 48 hours, watching movies and reading books and magazines.

My days are pretty much structured. I don't call too many people. And not too many people call me. And when they do call, they all say "Are you busy"? And I say "No. I am absolutely free". Why would anyone be busy during the day?

I am just busy between 7-9pm.

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Swapan Seth eats all day, and weighs 58 kgs. The only exercise he ever does is running Equus. Ostensibly.



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