Balance is a key component in maintaining a consistently high level of productivity in any job position or setting, and CEOs are certainly no exception. Leading an organization of any size can be an undoubtedly arduous job, so how do top executives maximize their time and energy while remaining strategic and also maintaining a demanding schedule?
Here are a few reminders to help CEOs (and all professionals) sustain their highest level of productivity on a daily basis.
1. Streamline your email process.
According to Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, responding immediately to emails which you know will only take two minutes or less will ultimately save you time on your to-do list. For example, if you’ve received an email asking you to confirm a meeting time, respond right away. Conversely, if you receive a message requiring a more lengthy explanation or series of answers, complete the task you’re currently working on before switching over to handle the email. Additionally, busy executives should not feel they are required to respond with “novel” length messages. Co-founder of Kuhcoon, Andrew Torba even suggests treating many of your emails as if they have character perimeters, such as Twitter’s 140 character limit. In fact, in some situations, it’s best to quickly assess whether a brief phone call to the recipient may be even more time-efficient.
2. Identify “do not disturb” times.
While all great leaders should aspire to an open-door policy, it is unrealistic to assume that you won’t encounter moments when you simply cannot be interrupted. Whether you are working on a major project or an important communication, changing gears in the middle of a crucial task can cause the job to take up to 25 minutes longer than it would have without the interruption, according to recent research. Andrew March, CEO of Fifth Column Games, places what he calls “cones of silence” on his and the desks of his team members at times when working without interruption is a necessity. The cones signify that workers are not open for interruptions or impromptu meetings. Whatever method you choose, don’t hesitate to clearly designate a certain time of day when you notify co-workers and team members that you are not to be disturbed.
3. Conserve energy for when it counts.
President of the Energy Project, Tony Schwartz, suggests taking a short break approximately every 90 minutes. Believe it or not, science has proven that the human body typically maintains its highest energy levels for 90 minute intervals. When we push further than an hour and half, our brains have a greater chance for distraction as energy levels decrease. In addition, scheduling your more taxing assignments for whatever time of day you find you’re the most energetic can also increase your overall productivity factor. Kathryn Minshew, CEO of The Muse, suggests taking note of your own behavioral patterns to pinpoint when you do your best work, then delineate and reserve those times for your most challenging tasks.
4. Don’t forget to delegate.
Often, executives feel they must complete everything on their own. After all, it is frequently their autonomy and self-reliance which landed them in a top leadership or entrepreneurial position. However, delegating one task per day that you know could be successfully completed by a team member can prove extremely helpful in increasing your daily productivity. Proper delegation not only creates a greater sense of teamwork among your employees, but is also an important factor in maintaining your own productivity level. Noted entrepreneur, Matt DeCelles, suggests outsourcing extraneous tasks to a freelancer who offers this type of service, if you do not have any team members available.
Chances are, if you are in a corporate leadership position, you have most likely developed certain productivity techniques of your own. However, the daily pressures of a demanding job may often lead us to become consumed with details, possibly overlooking some basic habits which could make an overwhelming improvement in our overall efficiency. As every CEO knows, when you are at your most productive, your team members and the company at large will certainly follow your lead.
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