How to Outperform Your Peers with Less Effort, Until it Lasts

Dario De Santis
5 min readMar 3, 2022


Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Have you ever asked yourself these questions:

How can I outperform my peers and stand out without working 16 hours/day?

How can I work less and smarter while improving my productivity?

Although I could share with you several soft skill based tricks I learned during 15 years of leading by influence, in this article, I’d like to talk about something much harder and measurable: time.

I will not tell you the overrated statement that says “time is the scarcest resource in your life”… oops, I just did, and I want to emphasize the fact that time is what determines our ability to do what we want to do, to pursue our dreams, to choose and consequently incur opportunity costs.

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For instance, I can’t play with my loud young daughters and write this blog post at the same time, because my very limited spare time forces me to make choices.

So, I decided to put on a pair of earplugs and sacrifice some of my private life to spread this message to the kind readers who will give me the privilege to be heard: managing time wisely is a source of competitive advantage for you as a person.

How do you manage your time?

You may become a master of time management tactics and orchestrate your calendar with surgical precision. However, developing those skills takes time (that you don’t have!), and obsession for scheduling makes you feel like a prisoner of your own calendar, especially when you end up allocating time even to go to the restroom.

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Is that the life you want to have?

I don’t… In the past, I tried to meticulously optimize my daily schedule with atrocious results: I ended up blocking large chunks of my calendar just for the sake of feeling free from constraints and working the way I wanted to. However, my short-term unavailability typically resulted in more meeting invitations from all those people who could not get a hold on me during focus time.

A full schedule for the next couple days is a price too high for being able to focus today.

Calendar management failure

Given the high cost of scheduling, many Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies started offering smart calendar management solutions trying to solve the problem. However, these tools have a fundamental flaw: they work on top of your calendar. Yes, they make it easier to schedule and resolve conflicts, saving people time and hassle, however, they automate the creation of more schedule constraints in your life. Plus, really busy people block their calendar, leaving calendar management assistants with few open slots to work their magic, which means they fail to deliver value to the users who need them the most.

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The source of your competitive advantage

The trick for being productive, working smart, freeing up your schedule, and finishing your daily work early is adopting the next generation of AI communication tools.

The idea underlying these new solutions is simple: remove all the avoidable scheduled events in your calendar, so that your day is more flexible, you feel free, and you accomplish what you are supposed to, before the end of the day.

The innovation consists of dethroning the calendar as your productivity framework of reference by leveraging AI to connect you with the right person at the right time. The beauty of this approach is that the AI learns and adapts to your workstyle, without requiring you to manage your availability. In other words, the AI figures out whether you are busy working on a demanding task, and acts as a firewall that avoids anybody to bother you. Then, when the time is right for all the parties needing to communicate, you get magically connected through the right channel in an impromptu fashion.

You now have control of what you do, without spending any time coordinating people’s schedules, while the rest of the world adapts around your choices. Isn’t it powerful?

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Your unique opportunity to stand out

If you imagine removing any calendar from your work life, you probably feel extreme discomfort, because the scheduling paradigm is so rooted in our society that we think it is the foundation of any productivity improvement, as well as the “protocol” we need to use to formally get in contact with other people.

However, when you think about how your day is organized you may, like me, experience an Epiphany. Your calendar divides and constrains your day in 8 chunks of 1 hour each. The more you are important, the more people need you, the more these chunks get filled up with meetings, occupying your day almost entirely. When you get to the end of the day, you realize you haven’t had time to work on what matters, and you end up compensating overtime, scarifying your private life.

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You worked overtime to achieve an average outcome, meaning the status quo hinders your ability to compete. However, there is good news: everyone works like that. It’s a level playing field that gives you a shot at getting better than others. But you have to do things differently or the result will never change.

Ditching your calendar in favor of a fluid dynamic model is different, although cognitively costly, therefore, people will take time to massively adopt these emerging models. We are in the pioneering stage of a new way of getting connected and early adopters have the opportunity to embrace change and outperform their peers, thanks to less meetings and more time to focus during the day.

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Dario De Santis

Long-termist visionary technology Entrepreneur and Product Leader, with a strong passion for improving people's productivity through innovative solutions.