As a business leader, your time is your most important asset. It’s finite, fleeting, and impossible to get back. Yet most of us treat it with a degree of frivolousness that’s, quite frankly, alarming.
Whatever your goals are — whether financial, strategic, or personal — learning how to better manage your time will lead to greater success. Time is money, as they say, but time also reflects your likelihood of achieving your goals.
Here are some specific tactics worth implementing, trying, and optimizing:
Be Smarter with Meetings
Nothing sucks productivity out of an office quite like meetings. Yet the average CEO spends 72 percent of her work time in meetings — with 70 percent of meetings lasting an hour or longer.
There are certain meetings you must attend. However, there are also plenty of times when you’re the one calling the shots. In these situations, ask yourself whether a meeting is really necessary. Could the issue be handled with a quick phone call or Skype chat? If a meeting is pertinent, limit the number of people who attend. This keeps meetings quick and focused.
You’ll be hard-pressed to meet an executive who doesn’t think of himself as an excellent multitasker. But for the most part, we’re all deceiving ourselves.
“Leaving one task, taking care of something else, and returning to the first task with no hiccups is difficult, and in most cases simply not going to happen,” Green Residential explains. “Getting back in the zone is not a function the brain performs readily. It’s proven that people work more efficiently when they complete one task before moving on.”
Block Out Distractions
In a world where messaging apps, phones, and computers constantly ring, ding, and chime, trying to focus on one task at a time can feel impossible. However, there is a solution: It’s to — gasp! — disconnect.
Wherever you are, try to be present. This means putting your phone on silent, logging out of your email, and notifying others that you’re unavailable. It’ll feel weird at first, but it will ultimately prove to be refreshing.
Use Your Commute Wisely
For most of us, the commute to and from work seems like wasted time. They’re unproductive periods of the day that aren’t conducive to whittling down our to-dos. But whether you’re driving a car, riding in the passenger seat, taking the subway, or walking to work, there are certain types of work you can get done during these buffer periods.
“Yes, travelling is perhaps not ideal for certain types of tasks (although this varies person-to-person). But a commute can also offer a welcome respite from the bustle of an office environment,” leadership consultant Douglas R. Conant writes. “You just have to identify the kinds of things you can get done during your travel time and smartly manage your time around that knowledge.”
If you drive to and from the office, it’s the perfect time to listen to voicemails and return calls. If you have a long train ride, you can use the time to answer emails or create your to-do list for the following day. Little actions like these will make a huge difference in your overall output.
Use Your Personal Time to Refresh
According to a recent study of 27 CEOs from large, successful organizations, the average CEO has roughly six hours per day when she’s awake but not working. And how a CEO uses this time is typically correlated to her overall productivity and success.
“The CEO’s job is mentally and physically demanding. Activities that preserve elements of normal life keep CEOs grounded and better able to engage with colleagues and workers — as opposed to distant, detached, and disconnected,” writes Michael E. Porter, one of the study’s lead researchers. “CEOs also have to make time for their own professional renewal and development (which our data showed was often the biggest casualty of a packed schedule).”
If you want to be productive on the job, you have to be good at relaxing and unwinding off the job. Too much work during non-work hours is a recipe for stress, frustration, and burnout.
Proper time management has the ability to supercharge your results and help you achieve more with less. As you approach this year, try some of these strategies to maximize your productivity and discover success.