For Ex­ec­u­tives

Pro­duc­tiv­ity tips for CEOs

Enterprise - - Contents -

The re­solve is to find ways to be more ef­fi­cient, to lead teams bet­ter, be smarter about how we man­age our time, and find wiser ways to work. But what time- tested ideas ac­tu­ally stick for re­ally busy peo­ple?

To an­swer that ques­tion, there are great ideas that CEOs have shared over the past year about time man­age­ment, work- life bal­ance and lead­er­ship.

Whether they come from Sil­i­con Val­ley wun­derkinds, For­tune 500 CEOs or start- up founders, th­ese day- to- day habits all have one thing in common: busy lead­ers credit them as small se­crets to their suc­cess.


The CEO of VMWare Pa­trick Gelsinger, a soft­ware company, codes his sched­ule by colour, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Wall Street Jour­nal in July.

He marks meet­ings turquoise when they’re with cus­tomers or part­ners, pur­ple if they’re with me­dia or in­vestors, and yel­low for strat­egy reviews. Then, an in­tern tal­lies up how his “time use stacks up to var­i­ous stud­ies on ex­ec­u­tive time man­age­ment,” the Jour­nal wrote.


Phil Libin, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of the note- tak­ing and ar­chiv­ing soft­ware Ever­note, told PC Mag­a­zine that he gives him­self a break by not work­ing in the air any­more.

“Like ev­ery­one else, I used to just work on air­planes — I’d use that as a time to catch up on things,” he said in a video in­ter­view with the pub­li­ca­tion.

“And I stopped. I ba­si­cally said when I’m on a plane, I won’t work. I’ll read, I’ll play video games, I’ll sleep, I’ll watch movies, but I don’t work. It makes me look for­ward to fly­ing. I can get off a long flight, and ac­tu­ally be kind of re­laxed.”


Ka­tia Beauchamp, co- founder of a popular beauty- sam­ple sub­scrip­tion ser­vice Birch­box, told the web­site Life­hacker that one of her best time- sav­ing tricks is to get co- work­ers to in­clude dead­lines for even sim­ple ques­tions.

“I in­sist peo­ple on the Birch­box team in­di­cate when they need a re­sponse in all emails,” she told the site. “It makes pri­ori­ti­sa­tion so much faster.”


While Jack Dorsey, Square CEO and Twit­ter Chair­man, shared this pro­duc­tiv­ity idea a few years ago, Life­hacker picked it up in Oc­to­ber and it got more at­ten­tion.

Speak­ing at a Te­chon­omy event in 2012, he dis­cussed how he bal­ances work­ing for two com­pa­nies at once.

One thing he does is to “theme” his days, de­vot­ing a dif­fer­ent day each week to dif­fer­ent types of work.

Mon­days are for man­age­ment, Tues­days are fo­cused on prod­uct, Wed­nes­days are for mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and so on.


In a con­ver­sa­tion with thenFor­tune man­ag­ing ed­i­tor Andy Ser­wer at Davos in Jan­uary, In­dra Nooyi di­vulged that she makes a habit of writ­ing let­ters to her em­ploy­ees’ par­ents.

The Pep­siCo chief ex­ec­u­tive said she writes let­ters to the par­ents of all of her di­rect re­ports, of­ten telling them the story of how much pride her fam­ily in In­dia had shown to her mother when Nooyi be­came CEO, and thank­ing them for their child.


Hsieh, Zap­pos CEO, started ex­per­i­ment­ing with this con­cept for man­ag­ing his email at the end of 2012, but it got more no­tice ear­lier this year.

His ap­proach, which he calls “Yesterbox,” helps him nav­i­gate the 1,000 to 2,000 emails he re­ceives a day.


Deal with yes­ter­day’s emails to­day ( rather than to­day’s emails), so you start the day know­ing how many mes­sages must be an­swered and “feel a sense of com­ple­tion when you’re done,” he writes on the Yesterbox site he cre­ated.

In a de­tailed out­line of the con­cept at Yesterbox. com, he ex­plains the ap­proach this way: “If it can wait 48 hours with­out caus­ing harm, then you are not al­lowed to re­spond to any emails that come in to­day, even if it’s a sim­ple one- word re­ply.

“This is the part that re­ally takes a lot of dis­ci­pline for the first week or so, be­cause it is re­ally tempt­ing to re­spond to emails that come in. Ba­si­cally, you need to psy­cho­log­i­cally train your­self to not worry about emails that are com­ing in ... Your fo­cus.

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