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MARISSA MAYER: Time Management Is About Priorities, Embracing The Never-ending To-Do List, And Sometimes Changing In The Car

Marissa Mayer is an incredibly busy woman, as the 38-year-old CEO of Yahoo with a young family and mission to develop herself by networking with Silicon Valley’s greatest.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff paid tribute to her ability to lead an “extraordinary, multi-dimensional life” at Dreamforce in San Francisco today.

Here’s what she said:

I’m glad it looks like that, but there’s a line in a movie in the Titanic where the old lady goes: ‘I can assure you the actual experience of it is quite different.’

It involves a lot of ebbing and flowing; there are times when you have a lot of time to work on community causes and network, and there are times when you have zero time and it also involves a lot of changing in the backseat of your car, which I did today, because you’re always just running from one place to the next.

For me, it’s really all about prioritisation.

I’m from Wisconsin, which is the home of the Green Bay Packers [NFL team]. Vince Lombardi is a famous coach of the Green Bay Packers and one of his sayings are: ‘My priorities are God, family and the Green Day Packers in that order’.

I joke that mine are ‘God, family and Yahoo’ except I’m not that religious. So it’s really ‘family and Yahoo’.

Earlier in the on-stage conversation, Benioff and Mayer discussed how she began reinventing Yahoo by prioritising Yahoo’s core offerings and what issues needed to be addressed.

Mayer wrapped up the discussion with some task-management advice from a college friend:

She said, ‘Look, I just make a to-do list every day in priority order from most important to least important and celebrate the fact that I’d never get to the bottom of it, because if I did, I would have spent a bunch of time doing relatively unimportant things.’

I thought that was really profound; a lot of people say, ‘Gosh, I’d never get it all done’, and when they see all the work they could never get done, they get really overwhelmed by it.

But the other thing you could do is just embrace it. That frame of mind really has helped me because there are times when I’m like, ‘wait, I’m kind of looking at something unimportant. Should there be something else higher on my to-do list?’

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