Managing Time

Managing Time

How many times have you heard a colleague or even your boss say, “There aren’t enough hours in a day,” or “I’m buried,” or “I don’t have time to get to that.”   Leaders have a difficult time managing their plate effectively and many things often suffer when they aren’t paying attention to their plate.  Things like relationships, exercise time, vacation time or even just think time.  In my work as an executive coach, this is always one of the areas of focus because when time is an issue, so many things can be impacted.

I am a CEO of one.  Me.  It should be simple just managing me, right?  Truth is, I know that when I am managing myself effectively, so many things come into perfect alignment and when I’m not, I’m not as effective, efficient or even happy, for that matter.  This will forever be work in progress for me.

In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, (July/August 2018), a CEO highlighted his ability to manage his time effectively as partof Harvard Business School’s CEO Time Study.   This CEO tracked his time for 13 weeks (as part of the study) so that he could evaluate the time he was spending on various tasks and activities.  At the end of the thirteen weeks, the insight the data provided helped him shift some of his actions and priorities.

He highlighted that he didn’t spend a lot of 1:1 time with his direct reports, but rather with broader teams that his direct reports are a part of.  What he learned was that 1:1’s are more important than he thought for several reasons. Having one-on-one time allows for more delegation, for holding people accountable, for building relationships and identifying opportunities for growth and development.  This is hard to uncover within a broader team meeting.

Additional data from the study showed that his meetings were predominantly one to two hours.   The question asked was why do you need one hour?  Or two hours?  Could you accomplish a meeting in 45 minutes?  And so, the CEO has started having 45-minute meetings, with a deliberate start and end time.  The shorter amount of time keeps people more focused and driven to get to an outcome.  While there are some meetings that may need more time, he has found this to be the minority instead of the majority.  Think of the time savings!

What was also uncovered was having alone time to reflect.   Not just time for reflection but time for spontaneity as well as keeping himself from getting overscheduled.   Being deliberate about setting time aside for this helps to make sure it happens.

And the fourth one to note was to minimize e-mail. (I know, I gasped too!)  This CEO said e-mail is impersonal and reactive. CEO’s have to stay human and be authentic, and you can’t do that via e-mail.  Finding more face time and walking around time is time well spent.  Message to self:  detach from my in-box more often.

I found some great lessons that I can apply to my CEO of one as they are easily transferrable to everyone I interact with and with the kind of relationships I want to have.  Some great reflection opportunities for all of us.

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