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James B. Rutland, Baton Rouge, on How to be the Most Productive CEO

There are 24 hours in a day–8 of those, many people around the world spend sleeping, and the remaining 16 can sometimes seem like less than enough. This is also true for CEOs, which are constantly conducting meetings, drafting proposals, handling negotiations and more meetings, all the while figuring out ways to sustain and grow […]

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There are 24 hours in a day–8 of those, many people around the world spend sleeping, and the remaining 16 can sometimes seem like less than enough. This is also true for CEOs, which are constantly conducting meetings, drafting proposals, handling negotiations and more meetings, all the while figuring out ways to sustain and grow their respective companies. It’s amazing that top execs find any time to eat and sleep, but we do. That’s because the art of being a successful CEO is understanding the value of time management and using your available moments to leverage productivity. 

By now, you’re probably aware that many CEOs start the day while most are still dreaming. For many, wake up times at 4:00 and 5:00am are commonplace, and yet, executives still don’t close shop officially at 5:00pm. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), the average work week for top executives is 72 hours–nearly double federally mandated full time schedule. That includes work on the weekends for more than 60% of those polled in 2013. The amount of things to do is seemingly endless. However, while everyone is putting in the hours, not everyone is doing as much as he or she could in that time, and that’s worse than being exhausted–it’s inefficient. 

In order to prevent such, executives need to make sure that the time spent answering emails and reviewing reports on weekends, instead of golfing or relaxing at the spa, isn’t in vain. This involves, at the root, working smart and having a plan for getting things done while at work. Some suggestions from The Muse include: having personal time, or making yourself uninterruptable during certain times of day. It’s not uncommon for CEOs to get an impromptu phone call, or a request from a certain department to review certain items, or a number of other interruptions. While it would certainly benefit to handle those things at some point in the day, try to schedule hours during which you can work without distraction, and make sure everyone in the office is aware of this time as well. 

Likewise, and more importantly, is to actually stick to that schedule. Set strict time frames for yourself, for meetings, phone calls, and email responses, and adhere to it as much as possible. The CEO of Renault and Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, and CEO of Career Education Corp., Gary E. McCullough, understand this concept fully. Both gentleman have noticed that creating time limits for meetings in particular, forces those with whom they meet to be clear and to the point, removing any extraneous details that can eat away at time one could be doing something else. 

Another big one is delegating. Chances are, if you’ve made it to the level where you’re largely responsible for the direction of the company, you’re a great leader. Still, eager to get things done, many executives will perform tasks that could easily be completed by someone on your staff whom you’ve hired to do just that. It’s important to be aware of when you’re taking on too much, and delegate when necessary to better focus on the most pressing issues covering your already packed schedule. 

To be clear, Daniel McGinn writing in this month’s HBR says the role of productivity shouldn’t be to cram in as much work as possible, but rather, to find a balance through which you get your available work done and have the time necessary to enjoy life outside of your company’s beloved four walls. That’s what’s most important.

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