In a recent survey of 483 executives, managers, and professionals, The Harvard Business Review found that C-level employees average a 72-hour work week. That’s how long it takes to defeat Final Fantasy 15’s toughest post-game boss. Final Fantasy fan or not, a bit of strategy and a few time management tactics will help you defeat the inefficiency beast faster than you ever thought possible. With the right mindset, that 72 hours could set you on the path to world domination.
We trudged through business reviews and interviews to find what top CEOs do to harness and weaponize time management tactics and wrapped it up into a quick article to jumpstart your work week.
Here are five common C-level time management tactics.
1. Find Your System
If you are Patrick Dolan, the EVP and COO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), you start by going on a run each morning to get your blood pumping. Or maybe you’re more similar to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who manages three different companies based in Tokyo, Japan, and New York. If so, you know exactly what you want, you plan ahead at least 15 months in advance, and you delegate like crazy. Or you could be more subjective like Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson who said in an interview with Fast Company, “It doesn’t matter what your system is, you have to have a system.”
Whatever it is, uncover the time management tactics that energizes you and deploy it. Use those tactics to create a system that ties together your values and links the cuffs of your daily routines and goals.
2. Prioritize, Aim, Then Shoot
“As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritize. You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay, or skip the rest.” – Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva and later ProFounder
Prioritizing and managing your time is a constant task. Take HomeJoy CEO Adora Cheung for example, she simply creates google spreadsheets and sets an agenda before every meeting, prioritizing urgent tasks first and omitting other, less-urgent tasks. So that leaves us with the question — how do you quickly determine which tasks and projects should take precedence? Before you prioritize your list, ask yourself:
Will this contribute to the ultimate goal and vision of the company?
How will this affect the company in the long run?
Can I delegate this to someone?
Am I going about this in the most strategic manner?
After you line up each target accordingly, all you have left to do is aim and shoot.
3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
“Once you’ve identified your crucial tasks and sorted out your priorities, try to find a way to delegate everything else. The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” – Eli Broad
Delegating doesn’t mean you’re giving up, it means you’re a good leader. You can’t expect to do everything. A great leader cannot expand his or her horizon if he or she is constantly micromanaging. Establish a criteria, set expectations, and leave the rest to pure dependability.
4. Create a Vision
“Capital isn’t scarce. Vision is.” – Sam Walton, CEO of Wal-Mart
As C-level employee, questions and problems constantly come your way. A clear vision can stand as a rubric for you to quickly assign tasks and score prime results.
For example, previous CFO of Wal-Mart Global Sourcing, Sam Dunn, had a vision that determined how he would act in difficult situations. He used a dime to illustrate his vision. Everywhere he went, the dime came with him, hidden in his pocket. The dime reminded him that he would not even for $50 billion–let alone a dime–sell his integrity. So the next time Dunn faced a tough negotiation, he didn’t have to spend hours or days coming up with a solution. He made the choice years before and only accepted terms under the criteria of a dime.
Remember, visions establish expectations, expectations foster action, and actions trigger results.
“The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
5. Hunt for Time Wasters
“I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it’s not a waste of time.” Martha Stewart, CEO Martha Stewart Enterprises
Get outside and find out what prevents you from getting your job done, whether it’s phone calls, texts, emails, social media, notifications, fortuitous meetings, or anything else lurking in the woods. Napping on your desk could also fall into this category–unless you’re Martha Stewart.
What does any hunter do when he or she finds game? They shoot it down. It may take more than one shot, and it’s always hard on your first try (especially when it’s ESPN sending you notifications during the playoffs) but keep your eye on the things that distract you most and try some of the following:
- Turn off notifications.
- Enable emergency messages only.
- Set aside blocks of time for social media.
- Log the time you spend on external tasks.
- Automate voicemails, texts, emails, and expenses.
- Try using pomodoro apps
The above tips and overall five themes are just a fraction of what you can do to make your 72-hours ultra productive. Read more time management tactics here.
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