Productivity tips for CEOs
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.
COLOUR-CODE EVERY MINUTE:
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.
DON’T WORK ON AIRPLANES:
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.”
MAKE EMPLOYEES PUT A RESPONSE DEADLINE IN EMAILS:
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.”
GIVE EVERY DAY A THEME:
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.
WRITE LETTERS TO EMPLOYEES’ PARENTS:
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.
CREATE A “YESTERBOX”:
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.