“One cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.”
Your first few years as a CEO will undoubtedly present many challenges, but time management is likely to be one of the most difficult. Time is the most valuable resource anyone has, but everyone has the same amount of time on any given day. It’s instructive to see how some people are changing the world while others aren’t at all productive in the same 24-hour period. What separates high-achievers from the pack? One answer is that they’ve developed an effective approach to time management.
As a young CEO, you’re going to switch between emails, meetings, work processes, employee management, and balancing between work and personal life at the same time, so it’s crucial to master the art of time management. Proper time management allows you to work smarter and increase productivity by focusing on high-level tasks.
Here are a few simple strategies for managing your time to yield the highest return. All six of these tips are simple to comprehend but can be difficult to implement consistently.
1. Organize your email inbox.
C-level employees and managers are the go-to persons when someone needs information related to a company. As a young CEO, you can expect to have an inbox that overflows with requests and questions, which can quickly become taxing on your time. This is one of many reasons to implement a strategic approach to inbox management.
Email providers offer simple labeling solutions that help you organize your inbox effectively. With labels, you can easily prioritize emails and schedule a time in your day when you’re going to answer them in order of urgency.
Far too many young CEOs waste time answering emails as soon as they arrive. This practice will take your focus away from essential tasks quickly. Set a specific time frame when you’re going to focus on answering emails and disable notifications to reduce distractions.
Many tools help you to automate the email communication process. For example, Hunter allows you to organize your inbox, find the right prospects, utilize the power of personalization, and helps you save time while scaling up your email outreach efforts.
2. Utilize the Pareto rule to manage work and personal life.
As an effective CEO, it is essential to understand the importance of delegation. You cannot focus on all aspects of your business at the same time. One consistently excellent piece of advice is to delegate tasks that are not strategic to people who are better at doing it than yourself. That’s where the Pareto rule comes in handy.
The rule applies an 80/20 ratio to almost every context, which ultimately increases productivity and effectiveness. For instance, you can apply the Pareto rule while creating a work-life balance by investing 80% of your time in work and spending the rest on your personal life.
The same goes for task delegation. As a CEO, it is essential to focus your energy and expertise on high-level tasks while delegating repetitive and low-level tasks. Delegation allows you to scale the processes, which ultimately increases the revenue of your company.
3. Plan your workday priorities ahead of time.
It’s essential to take time to visualize and plan the upcoming day. There are many tools for planning your days and weeks such as Trello, Asana, Slack, or Google Calendar. The great thing is that these tools work seamlessly in a business context as they allow a high level of collaboration.
One of the best ways to plan your day is to break complex tasks and goals into smaller chunks, categorize further, and prioritize the best output. Brian Tracy published a book called “Eat That Frog” that talks about the importance of planning your day ahead of time. Tracy describes the method used by many CEOs and high-level managers to increase their productivity and focus. The prerequisite is to plan daily tasks and set priorities for each task. The highest priority task is an “A” task, followed by a “B” task, and so on.
The key is to solely focus on executing the “A” task until it’s done. You can switch to the next task only after the highest priority task is completed. It is a great way to avoid multitasking, which can sap your strength and deplete your productivity in seconds.
4. Set SMART goals for managing your time.
Running a business without a clear vision and goal is going to lead to disaster. Goal setting is a prerequisite for your business to succeed. There are many ways to set realistic and achievable goals that will lead your business in the right direction. The result-driven method is called the SMART method, which allows you to set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals.
As a younger CEO, setting complex goals should be a routine. It’s essential to break down your goals into smaller chunks that enable transparent and quick navigation through tasks and sub-goals. One of the most effective ways to navigate, tweak, and understand your goals is by creating mind maps.
Mind maps don’t limit you to only a goal-setting context. You can utilize the concept to support process, task, and personal goal visualizations. Mind maps improve your productivity while giving you perspective on the whole process, allowing you to implement tweaks and adjust as needed.
5. CEOs need to prioritize and avoid multitasking.
Since we live in a world where information is just a click away, it’s easy to get lost in all of the available information. Have you ever mindlessly scrolled through social media feeds, consuming loads of information in a short period? It takes precious energy and time while taxing the capacity of your brain. Multitasking doesn’t work and it’s crucial to avoid it at all costs. Did you know that even tiny task switches can cost you approximately 40% of your productivity?
There are many effective techniques to practice single focus. For instance, a popular method called the Pomodoro technique emphasizes the importance of focus periods followed by short breaks. You should experiment with the length of focus and break periods and find what works the best for your productivity levels.
You can also create thematic days where you focus on a particular aspect of your work. For example, one day you can focus on marketing, the second day you can focus on administration, the third day you focus on ideas.
6. Reduce time-wasting distractions.
It’s easy to drift away from a high-priority task, especially nowadays in the information age. That being true, it’s necessary to identify these time and energy wasters and remove them from your daily working life.
Many apps enable you to disallow access to specific pages during a particular period. For instance, News Feed Eradicator works wonders with removing your Facebook feed during a specific time. Rescue Time is a handy application that tracks your time and shows detailed statistics, which gives you a graphical representation of where you lose the most of your productive time. That way, you can strategically block all time wasters and increase productivity.
Remote working is slowly becoming the new normal across many industries spurred on in large part by the Covid-19 pandemic. Left on your own, it’s critical to create a minimalistic office space that reduces the possibility you’re going to drift away from the current task at hand.
Businesses lose money and opportunity without proper time management systems.
Time is the most precious resource and, as with any resource, it requires thoughtful and planned management. Did you know that the average person spent 145 minutes per day on social media in 2020? That’s a perfect example of poor time management and a massive opportunity for improvement.
Failing to understand the importance of time management will lead to lower productivity and focus, which will enable your competitors to take away a hard-earned market share.