Most CEOs and business leaders understand on a gut level that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. They also know that time, (and the management of their time!), probably the most valuable resource of all, gets wasted far too often. This leads to frustration, a sense that too little gets achieved, and other morale-sapping experiences.
But there’s always room for improving one’s time-management skills. Here are tips towards that goal that can leave you feeling more productive at the end of the day:
Distractions? Just say “no.”
We live in an era of distractions, but that doesn’t mean a CEO or business owner should waste precious hours flitting through Facebook, Twitter, or other social media diversions. The ROI on this activity is near-zero and the alternative—leveraging that precious time into building your company—should be motivation enough to put down your mobile devise and focus. Emails are another constant distraction, most often something you can attend to at the end of (or the very beginning) of the day.
The first step to set aside these digital distractions is turning off notifications that announce a new post or email has just come in. This alone will guide the way towards a better focus on what’s truly important.
Get your priorities in order.
Speaking of “important,” there’s a common confusion between work that’s urgent, versus what’s genuinely important. CEOs and business leaders complain about spending all day “putting out fires,” which often is just another way of saying, “That’s another day down the drain.”
As Lisa Evans at Fast Company notes, “Urgency is sometimes used as an excuse to put off doing something which is more important but also more difficult.” Better to maintain focus on your true priorities “and before beginning any task, ask yourself, ‘How does this task serve my priorities and bring me closer to my vision?’”
Get out of the “multitask mindset.”
Yes, in theory, “multitasking” sounds like what every business leader should be doing. In practise, however, when you split your attention between two or more differing activities, the end result is often less than what you would get from staying with one task at a time.
Identify what’s genuinely important and focus your attention there. In the end, you’ll find yourself achieving more and seeing more impressive results for your efforts.
Practise better delegation.
Especially for entrepreneurs who rise to the ranks of CEOs, there’s often a nagging sense that “I can do this [insert task] better than the people who work for me.” If that’s true, you’re probably hiring the wrong people. Assuming, on the other hand, that you consistently make good hires, let the talented men and women who work for your company expand their skills and responsibilities. Free up your own time by becoming a better delegator. The more tasks others can take on, the more time you have for keeping your focus just where it should be—on growing the business.
Schedule some free time.
As overscheduled as you may be, it’s a good idea to add a “free” hour or so to your schedule from time to time. “If you plan every day down to the second,” says Square, “you’ll never have time for unexpected challenges … and opportunities.” Having a few moments free of the challenges of leadership can also reinvigorate you for what lies ahead, thus making far better use of your time.