Published by: Brett Malden, VP Innovation + Technology, BrandStar Tech
Time is one of the most valuable resources available to business execs, but sadly it is the resource that is often the scarcest and most overlooked. Yet, time is one of the easiest and least expensive resources to replenish.
As busy executives and leaders, we often say I don’t have time to fit one more meeting into my schedule, review that report, or resolve that conflict on my management team. But, not having time is costing you money, jeopardizing relationships, and impeding your path to progress.
As a member of the executive leadership team, you are the face of the organization. What you do and how you do it is closely watched by internal and external stakeholders. Balancing time between these groups can feel like quite the juggling act.
The First Step in Freeing Up Time
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, but it is a necessary first step. As a leader, you must take a hard look at every activity on your schedule. You must see the big picture and understand where all of your time is being spent before you can free up minutes from your day. This may seem like a daunting task, but there are 1440 minutes in each day. If you find yourself working 7 days a week, that equates to 10,080 minutes. Every minute counts and can be re-allocated towards another task, meeting, or discussion that makes more sense, increases productivity, leads you closer to success and allows for a better work/life balance.
Have To Do vs. Nice To Do
When analyzing activities, schedules and calendars, it is important to ask yourself the following questions. What on the list MUST be done and is vital to the organization? What purpose does it serve? What can be eliminated or delegated to someone else? How much time does each action take in relation to the 1440
minutes in each day?
Too often, we hear the words … we do it this way because we have always done it this way. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the right way or that the function needs to continue. As business execs, we often inherit habits from a predecessor that may no longer be necessary. Taking a deep dive into all activities, will allow you to adjust, eliminate and re-assign activities as needed and will start to free up your time.
Blocking Out Time
Between attending meetings, responding to emails, giving presentations, and performing key job functions, it often feels like there is not enough time in the day. But once you have gone through the have to do vs. nice to do process, the next step is to start blocking out time for those key functions.
Emails are one of the biggest zappers of time for many execs. The average exec can receive hundreds of emails per day and that number varies by industry, organization size and a myriad of other factors. They are distracting and can steer even the most focused executive into a never-ending, tangent. Blocking out time to read and respond to emails is one way to use time effectively to accomplish a necessary task. It’s not always possible because issues come up unexpectedly but establishing set meeting times during the week blocks time for other functions. This will also help to free up your time, so you are prepared for the unexpected.
Another question to ask is – does every meeting need to be face-to-face or can video conferencing be used to spare commute time? Set times for your meetings and stick to that time. If the time is going over what is scheduled, table the issue. This will help members of your executive team and staff learn to adhere to the scheduled time parameters. Also, encourage your executive team to not only present the problem but identify a possible solution to help reduce unnecessary discussion.
Finally, there should always be a note taker or someone on the team who can recap the highlights of the meeting and agreed upon deliverables so there is no room for confusion in the future. Recapping and assigning responsibility is one of the most effective ways to save time so it can be re-focused on more important issues.
Creating focus time and blocking time in your calendar to concentrate may sound a bit common sensical, but it’s important. As executives, we need time to think and strategize. If it’s not set in the schedule, then another activity will take its place.
The important take away here is to remember that a to-do, no matter how big or small, will probably not get done unless it’s tied to a when. Blocking out your calendar protects you and your time which is one of your most valuable resources.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
You need an effective team that works together because you need to delegate responsibilities to free your time. One person can’t do everything! But, you need a good team in order to delegate responsibilities. Do you really need to read every single email or can someone on your executive team help you sift through the
minutia? Is it imperative that you attend every single meeting, or can you send a delegate from your executive team? Can you outsource certain tasks to an external company to free up your time and let an expert handle what needs to get done?
Creating a Work/Life Balance
There is work that you complete during the day and those other tasks and events that occur outside of the “normal” workday. Most execs are active in their community or serve on the board of other organizations to foster good community relationships. But, how much time is that taking and are you using that time wisely and effectively? Do you have to serve on more than one board? Assessing how time is being spent and re-allocating time toward more productive enterprises will allow you to plan accordingly.
It’s also important to carve out personal time for fun activities and necessities, like sleep. And, yes sometimes we are so busy even sleep needs to be scheduled. Lack of sleep and stress can lead to costly mistakes which will zap even more of your time. Not having time to eat properly or exercise regularly can also lead to future medical issues which will wreak even more havoc on your schedule.
Knowing When It’s Time to Hire a Professional
Being an executive is mentally and physically exhausting. Carving out time now and planning ahead allows us to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Not having the time to plan ahead, impedes our path to progress. Everyone needs a little help sometimes! At BrandStar, we bring you the highest level of support to see what you cannot see. To learn how you can utilize our services to regain time from your busy schedule and pave the way to success, get in touch today to start the conversation. To learn more about our time management systems and tech enabled products, services and workflow strategies, please contact us HERE or call (844) 200-2525.