Learn from Charlotte how detailed planning combined with discipline help to increase your efficiency

In this series of Time Management Masterminds, I interview professional leaders to understand their techniques to overcome the challenges they face in their daily professional life and how they manage their time.

In today’s interview of Charlotte, you will learn how detailed planning combined with discipline provide efficient results.



Charlotte Balahu de Noiron

Charlotte is the General Manager of the Fashion Division of a large luxury brand.

She manages a team of 12 managers. She indirectly manages 70 people in her office and oversees the work of 750 people in the country.

She is based in Shanghai. She travels 40% of her time. She is also the mother of 3 kids.



  • The Routinologist: Charlotte, do you have any principle when it comes to time management?

  • Charlotte: My first principle is not really about what I do but rather what I don’t do. I don’t multitask. When I am at the office, I am not at home and vice versa. This means that during my meeting, my cell phone is in my drawer and my office door is closed. I believe that “Less is More”, less distraction results in a higher level of efficiency.


I believe that “Less is More”, less distraction results in a higher level of efficiency

Yearly planning
  • The Routinologist: How do you manage your agenda?

  • Charlotte: During my experience in finance at the early stage of my career, I got used to plan things far ahead and very carefully. The seasonality of the fashion business helped me to develop the routine of planning the main milestones of my agenda in December for the whole year. In December, I sit with my assistant and we book together all my international travels, my visits of the boutiques and the fortnightly meeting with my direct reports. Then every other week, I plan meeting linked to the ongoing projects. One of my rule is also to avoid, unless emergency, meeting after 6pm


Plan things far ahead and very carefully


  • The Routinologist: Do you have lots of meeting?

  • Charlotte: Yes, I usually spend 80% of my time in meetings and the rest of the time for myself (to work, review, plan and manage). I recently experiment a couple of weeks with fewer meetings and since the result was very positive, I would like to reduce the time I spend in meetings to 50%.


I would like to reduce the time I spend in meetings to 50%

  • The Routinologist: How often do you meet your directs reports?

  • Charlotte: I use to meet them twice a month to discuss about the work they cover. I also meet them more informally for what I call “Pulse meeting”. I use business trips, lunches, drink or dinner to talk with them about their career development plan.


I meet my team during what I call Pulse Meeting to talk about their career development plan

  • The Routinologist: In general, how long do your meetings last for?

  • Charlotte: Regular meeting lasts for 45 minutes. I expect my directs to be very prepared. I encourage my team not to send me information in real time but rather to talk about it during our 1 on 1. That being said, I am very flexible and if something urgent pops up, my door is always open.


Regular meeting lasts for 45 minutes

  • The Routinologist: Charlotte, can you tell us more details on how you manage your emails?

  • Charlotte: Since I asked my team to remove me from distribution lists, I don’t receive many emails. I also requested my team to use very clear email subjects. When I see some back and forth emails where I am only in copy, I don’t read the email chain directly but read the last email of the chain when the topics seems no longer moving.


I asked my team to remove me from distribution lists

  • The Routinologist: Do you use any other communication tools?

  • Charlotte: I actually don’t receive lots of phone calls and we usually only use WeChat in case of emergency.



  • The Routinologist: Charlotte do you use a to do list?

  • Charlotte: I do have a to do list. I use a notebook and consider switching to a digital solution. I am very organized and prepare my meetings carefully. All the topics I have to discuss either with my manager or my team are logged.


I am very organized and prepare my meetings carefully

  • The Routinologist: Charlotte, do you have any specific routines at work?

  • Charlotte: I use to arrive early at the office. I usually start my day by checking emails and working on complex topics. When my office door is open, my team knows that they can get in as they need. Unless I have a lunch, I use to eat quickly at my desk reading the news. I go to the gym twice a week, early in the morning and I cycle to go to the office. This helps me to remain in good shape.

I cycle to go tho the office, this helps me to remain in a good shape


Shanghai September 6th, 2019



#timemanagement #routines #routinology #discipline #todolist