A CEO’s day in the office is normally full, with calls, meetings, several appointments and travel, but many are able to accomplish more things with effective time management. An efficient CEO learns to spend his or her time in the office effectively by leaving nothing unplanned. Everything should be carefully scheduled and put into action each day.
Many management specialists and forward thinking CEOs have shared many tips on how they were able to practice time management despite the many demands for their attention on a daily basis.
It may sound archaic but it is still very effective. Create a monthly schedule and a detailed weekly schedule. You can either have it the old-fashioned way and have a planner or use more sophisticated apps that you can install on your smartphone or tablet. Choose the most comfortable method for you. What is important is to see your schedule for the day and the week ahead. Put in all your activities for the current week, as well as your conversations and thoughts into your planner. Keep a notebook by your bedside so you can write down thoughts and ideas that might suddenly come to mind.
Instead of trying to recall things to do and things that you’ve discussed, write down each conversation or activity that is important to you. Allocate time for each one that is related to your business. You should also be doing the same thing for family activities as well as the time you have for yourself. These are all vital times contributing for your personal well-being and success.
Learn to invest part of your time on your most vital assets in order to see major results. Spend about 20% of your time in productive conversations, activities and thoughts. Prioritizing the most important things to do gives you more time for other activities.
Understand that things may not go the way you want them to all the time. There are times when what you set out to do cannot be finished in one go. While interruptions disrupt the flow of activity, they are part of reality. If a person interrupts you, do not ignore the person or the interruption. Acknowledge that it is important, stop what you are doing and tell the person to meet with you at a designated time during the day.
Early in the morning, spend at least 20 minutes to plan your day, every day. Doing this gives you the flexibility to dictate how you should conduct your day instead of the day dictating what you should do. It helps you focus on the goals you’ve set for each day.
Tasks, phone calls, emails and other administrative functions crowd the daily work life of a CEO. Time management is not only about allocating time for each activity. As you’re after success, spend at least five minutes to decide what results you want to achieve before you start a task or make a call. This is called preparation. Instead of just ”winging it” be prepared for anything by doing your homework.
Research is necessary. It helps shorten the time to finish a task if you have all the information, data and statistics on hand. If you are negotiating, understanding all the facts, background information, historical data, current status and future trends will put you in a better and stronger position.
There will be times when you absolutely have to work alone to get something done. Training your people to abide by your ”do not disturb” rule is also a sign of being a true leader and exercising effective time management. Just like they appreciate your open door policy, they should also know that a close door policy is necessary when you, as the CEO, need to finish important tasks for the company or make executive decisions.
Reading and answering emails eat up your precious time. Try not to click on emails received as soon as they pop up. Check your emails in the morning and attend to anything that is urgent. Check the rest later before you end your day, or during down times throughout the day. You need to attend to more pressing matters than your emails. It is also a way of training and telling your contacts that you are busy with things that concern your business. If you answer your emails immediately, it’s a sign that you are available and can be interrupted any time.
Using social media accounts can distract you from your work. Businesses that use social media platforms for marketing and advertising should have the sales and marketing people handle the comments and inquiries. It is not the job of the CEO to track the activities on social media. A report from the sales and marketing department about performance of social media activities is more your concern.
Although there are many people who are advocates of multitasking, it can be counterproductive. Juggling several tasks at the same time does not allow you to completely finish the task or even do one or the other efficiently and effectively. In fact multitasking has been found to lower your productivity level, according to an article published in Psychology Today. The article mentions several more reasons why multitasking has an adverse effect on your mind as well as your body. Focus on a single task and finish it by removing all forms of distraction, which will allow you to manage your time better.
Effective time management means that you maximize the use of your time. You may not be considering the small pockets of time that you have, which can also be put to good use. It can be during your commute, in between meetings or when you finish your meeting earlier. You can check and answer emails during this period or think of solutions to a minor issue. There are several small tasks that you can finish in 5 or 15 minutes. Make a list and add them to your planner. When you have some extra time on your hand, go over your list and start working on each one.
You do not have to spend your workday attending meetings. Attend or set meetings that are meant to be productive. Aim for short meetings that will bring results, like what action will be taken, who will take care of the action and when the deadline is. Moreover, always check the agenda and ask yourself if you need to attend the meeting or if the meeting is actually needed.
If you want to exercise effective time management, you have to look at your habits and tweak them to produce better results. Time management is not for you alone. You’ll be a more efficient and effective leader of your organization if you think of time management as an organization-wide issue. As their leader, you can teach your subordinates and equip them with the incentives and tools to manage their time better. You’ll have a more dynamic and productive workforce that you can count on when talents are scarce.
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