“Work smarter, not harder.” It sounds great, in principle, yet despite the resources available to CEOs, many will concede that time management is their greatest challenge to working smarter. A 12-year study by the Harvard Business Review examined how CEOs manage their time and yielded remarkable findings. We’ll review their findings and share effective tips to boost your productivity.

1. Prioritize Your Tasks

To optimize your limited time, it is crucial to have an agenda that prioritizes your most important tasks. The agenda may address both general and specific matters, and can combine time-restricted tasks with more open-ended goals. According to the study by the Harvard Business Review, CEOs spend about 43%, on average, of their time on activities that furthered their agendas. Take the time to put together an agenda. It will help you to stay organized, to track your progress throughout the day, and to identify the most important tasks that should be completed first. Say “no” to nonessential tasks or commitments so that you remain focused on the most important ones to advance your agenda.

2. Utilize Technology To Increase Efficiency

 

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There are many tools that can help you with time and task management. These tools have become more effective over the years. For example, you can use Trello.com to map out, prioritize and delegate tasks for your business. While new technology can be intimidating at first to CEOs and small business owners, failing to adapt can and most likely will hurt your business. If your competitors are using tools that you avoid or dismiss as unnecessary, then your business won’t be competitive for too long. Keep up with the latest trends in technology to elevate your business and gain a competitive advantage.

3. Delegate and Outsource

To maximize your productivity and leverage your time wisely, you should recognize that you may not have the skills or time necessary to perform all tasks. Successful CEOs are great at recognizing their strengths and shortcomings, delegating the tasks that they are not good at, and focusing on their strengths. Similarly, you should learn to let go and delegate or outsource tasks to people who are better suited for them. There are several resources to outsource tasks such as Fiverr.com for freelancers or Finbooth.pro for independent accountants. Alternatively, bring on team members with expertise in areas in which you’re not proficient to help you advance your agenda, and as a leader, focus your time on your most important and valuable tasks. As the study by the Harvard Business Review noted, when there is mutual trust, “delegation comes more naturally, agreement is easier to reach, and less monitoring and follow-up are necessary.”

4. Minimize Interruptions and Distractions

There are many interruptions and distractions that can seriously disrupt your productivity. E-mails, phone calls, text messaging and social media are common distractions that will almost certainly pull your attention away from whatever task you were focusing on. One way to address these distractions is simply to turn off or mute everything, turn off your notifications or set your phone to airplane mode. According to the study by the Harvard Business Review, CEOs spend about 28% of their work time alone, on average, but about half of this alone time is fragmented into blocks of an hour or less. To minimize interruptions and distractions, consider scheduling meaningful amounts of uninterrupted, unplugged time to advance your agenda.

5. Keep Your Meetings Short and Efficient

CEOs spend a significant amount of their time in meetings. Notably, according to the study by the Harvard Business Review, CEOs spend, on average, about 72% of their total work time in meetings. Many CEOs acknowledged that their meetings could often be cut in half or less. To improve your productivity, you should take a hard look at your typical meeting length and consider shortening them to be more efficient. One way to streamline your meetings is to have a meeting agenda in place and request that the attendees come prepared. Finally, consider delegating routine or regular meetings to others on your team, leaving time for you to focus on the more important tasks.

6. Manage Your Energy and Well-being

 

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A CEOs job is physically and mentally demanding. To remain energized, focused and productive every day, it is essential to preserve your energy and make time for your personal well-being. There are several ways to set yourself up for optimal performance. For example, eat healthier food, get enough sleep, take more time off, exercise regularly, take walking meetings, among others. You should allocate time for health, fitness and rest to help you nurture your physical and mental strength.

Final Thoughts

Time management can be challenging, even for CEOs. These findings and tips can help you improve your productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. Consider implementing one or more of these tips in your business and everyday life. Get started on your productivity plan and enjoy the benefits of working smart.

Information contained in this post does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Please contact your financial or legal advisor for information specific to your business. Finbooth assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained in this post.