How do CEO’s manage their time? Do they always prioritize? Are they procrastinators? Not the CEOs I’ve known. I once read an interview of Ben Kugler on how he managed his time. In Success Magazine’s article, â€œTime Management – 10 Tips from a Successful CEO (and Father, and Husband): How Ben Kugler Makes Time Work for Him,â€ Kugler offers ten tips on time management. Unfortunately, the article was never available online, but below are his tips with my commentary:
- Determine what your goals are: we all have goals. Some goals feel big. I was once asked create a sales operations function, adding to my marketing department’s responsibilities. Rather than feel the pressure of the goal, I reframed it, by thinking about this goals in manageable bites. One step led to another and then another. Before I knew it, I had the sales operations plan, with job functions, each job’s responsibilities, and reports ready for my CEOs review.
- Learn to prioritize: when I fail to prioritize, I become unfocused on how to approach the goal, project, or task. I find, that when I fail to define the requirements of what needs to done, I’m unable to prioritize. I start there, at the scope of work or requirements definition, so I can then determine what’s a priority or what istn’t one. I become focused again, after this step, at times, I’ll started on some easy steps that are a lower priority. This allows me to build up energy, so I can work on the larger, more high priority stuff. This approach allows me to get over any mental blocks. I still know what my priorities are, but I just needed momentum.
- Always have a plan of action: action plans are simple. They’re just lists of tasks that need to be done to get the object of the plan done. How can you manage your time, if you don’t have the steps defined on how to accomplish the goal? Your actions may become chaotic or out of sequence, without an action plan. It’s like not having a grocery list when you need to buy groceries. You go into the store, you can’t remember what you needed, you wind up picking stuff you don’t need. All the while, you’re wasting time by browsing around, when you could have know which departments you needed to shop in. A lack of an action plan wastes time.
- Donâ€™t procrastinate: for me, procrastination sometimes is a symptom that somethingâ€™s wrong. After evaluating my procrastinations, I usually realized that my assumptions are wrong or something is defined correctly. I rethink what has to done, then things unfold as they should and procrastination my gone.
- Get plenty of food and sleep: I never realized how important sleep was to our health. Not only for brain function, but for a healthy heart. I’ll be the first to admit that sleeping is a waste of time. I hate sleeping, because I want to be productive on other things or play. While it was easy to think I could operate on only five to six hours of sleep a few years ago, today, I realized how important it is for a healthy lifestyle.
- Learn to say no: some people have a hard time saying “no” to others. I’ve learned to say “no,” but only after factoring how the thing I’m asked to do affects existing work. For example, my favorite CEO, would ask if I could add something to my department’s plate, I would say, “Yes, but let me see how it impacts the other priorities you gave us. I’d be happy to move things around.” While this sounds like a cop out, I had already demonstrated to my CEO that my team was already operating at 110% capacity, so adding one more thing would affect existing work.
- Keep a daily journal: I want to keep a journal. In fact, I have the Moleskines and Levenger products to prove it. But, I canâ€™t seem to stay with a daily journal. I’ve given up trying.
- Chart progress on major activities: Iâ€™m a data geek, so I track my projects progress in Microsoft Excel. I make sure that I have all project tasks identified, so I’m able to determine my percentage complete on projects. Not only do I feel like I’m making progress, it helps me manage my projects.
- Hire people you can depend on: I had great people that I worked for me in my last job. Iâ€™ve learned to depend on them. But can could they depend on me? Yes. We came up with a system that allowed them to ping me or remind me of a task or action item that was due from me. For example, in the email subject line, they would write something like “Action: approve the marketing campaign by April 13.” Since we used Microsoft Outlook, my team would add a reminder, so I would get a pop-up message, when I needed to act on that email.
- Make family a priority: family is a huge priority for me. I carve out as much time as need to spend time with my mother and brother. My mother is getting older, so I donâ€™t want to regret missed opportunities to be with her. If it’s a health issue with my mother, then I drop everything, flying across the country to be with her. It’s nice to have priorities.
Why not practice your CEO time management skills sooner versus later? While you may have have direct reports, you most likely have other people that depend on you. How can you make these people manage their time effectively? Be a team player, by avoiding procrastination, making them a priority as you do your part of the work on time or early.