7 Highly Effective Time Management Tips from Top CEOs
From making key decisions to meeting Wall Street expectations, the average CEO has really a lot on his plate, working 10 or 11 hours per day which amounts to 58 hours a week on weekdays, additionally six hours on weekends, according to Time.
Despite having just 24 hours like everybody else and not less but more duties and deadlines, the question is why CEOs are able to tick off much more tasks on their to-do list than the average full-time employee. Predominantly, they are usually real masters of time management who have a minute-by-minute plan for each day, designing it with great scrutiny and precision.
To stay on top of the game, highly successful CEOs use some productivity hacks which make their work insanely productive.
So let’s take a closer look at 7 highly effective time management tips used by top-performing and world-renowned CEOs.Back to top
Jeff Bezos - Think Long-Term
Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has always been thinking on a long term basis. In his 1997 Letter to Shareholders, just after Amazon’s Wall Street debut, he wrote:
“It's All About the Long Term”
This is the key phrase of the whole Letter as it shows the founder of Amazon has had a big-picture vision for his online store with a long term perspective since the beginning. It is essential even at the initial stages of the company as early decisions have a great impact on its future.
Leaders who lay emphasis on the long term make better decisions, trading off short-term gains for long-term growth and development. However, to reap the rewards of this strategy, leaders need to be convinced that this approach is the right one as it sometimes means making unpopular and difficult decisions.
In hindsight it is clear that the key e-commerce mogul’s decisions have always been made with the “long-term market leadership” in mind, “rather than short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions.” Looking at Amazon’s financial results and its market position, this strategy proved to be hyperefficient.
Focusing on growth and long-term profitability requires not only a clear vision and long-term thinking but also a lot of discipline and optimism of leaders to stay on track. Especially, in light of short-term profitability pressure from shareholders, the decision-making process may be challenging, but leaders who are able to go through the battlefield and stick to their long-term strategy will be rewarded for their perseverance.Back to top
Richard Branson - Be Connected and Engaged
The founder of the Virgin Group likes to be in touch with his teams and fans so that he is constantly connected and engaged. As he wants to be accessible to his office in other timezones, after waking up at 5 a.m. and exercising, he likes to be online early when he usually deals with his emails to be up-to-date “before most of the world logs on.” With the help of his assistant, he also replies to all other emails that come in daylong.
"I try to respond to as many reader emails as I can. I read through the list every morning and dictate quick answers to my assistants, pass some to colleagues, and usually write a couple of longer, more detailed responses myself."
As the business magnate manages over 400 companies, he likes to keep in touch with his Virgin teams all around the world to stay on top of the latest company news.
Richard Branson believes that:
“Being a modern business leader is all about having your finger on the pulse and knowing what you’re talking about.”
In between calls and emails, the Virgin Group owner also tends to keep his ear to the ground in terms of the world news that often become an inspiration for his blogs.
Speaking about Richard Branson’s blog, it’s incredible that having so much on his plate, he still finds time to regularly write articles for his blog to be in touch with his readers. He shares there his views and calls to action on issues of great social importance such as the death penalty or mistreatment of refugees, but also provides useful business tips and inspiration.
As the entrepreneur values the power of social media, he often shares his views via social media and is very active on his social media accounts. He loves logging onto Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to read his fans’ feedback that is very consistent with his need for “having his finger on the pulse.” Generally, the businessman appreciates that social media have “given the public the power to really have a say”.
Given that the entrepreneur lives in the British Virgin Islands with sunny weather and beautiful beaches, his day is surprisingly well-structured, organized, and predictable that probably lies at the bottom of his extraordinary success.Back to top
Warren Buffett - Value Your Time
In an interview with the TV host Charlie Rose, Buffett said:
“People are going to want your time. It’s the only thing you can’t buy. I can buy anything I want, basically, but I can’t buy time.”
As Warren Buffett realizes time is irretrievable, he is very watchful about how he spends his time. Unlike many people, he is able to keep his calendar light by choosing just activities of utmost importance. Bill Gates, Buffett’s long-time friend, observed that “he has days that there’s nothing on”.
As the world’s investor is mindful of time, he doesn’t cram his calendar with unnecessary activities that boils down to rejecting a lot of other people’s requests. Buffett is aware that he can buy anything but time. Therefore, he doesn’t overload himself and guards this schedule against time-wasting activities, devoting his precious time to reading, planning, and thinking.Back to top
Bill Gates - Timebox Your Tasks
Mary Riddell from the Telegraph, who spent three months with the billionaire observing his day-to-day schedule, discovered:
"His day is planned for him, in the style of the US president, on a minute-by-minute basis. Every meeting and handshake is timed to the second."
As Bill Gates values his time greatly, he is famous for his jam-packed schedule, planning out his day thoroughly to make time for all important activities. Just like Elon Musk, the Microsoft founder has a habit of planning out every minute of his day by dividing up his schedule into five-minute intervals. To stay goal-oriented and cut out distractions, he dedicates a fixed slot for a specific task which keeps him on the right track.
This technique, called timeboxing, helps successful CEOs stay on top of their workday by putting tasks into a calendarized time slot which gives them a great sense of control over their priorities. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, “timeboxing — migrating to-do lists into calendars — was ranked the most useful.” To get things done, you not only decide what to do and when to do it but also need to shut yourself off from the world for that timeboxed period by blocking out all distractions.Back to top
Tony Robbins - Determine Your Desired Outcome
Tony Robbins created the Results Planning System whose aim is to help people figure out how to achieve their goals more effectively. His method is based on three questions:
“What is the RESULT you are after?
What is the PURPOSE?
What is your Massive Action Plan (MAP)”?
According to the famous author and speaker, “clarity is power” so you need to know exactly what you want and what outcomes you expect to get by defining it as clearly as possible. If you have a crystal clear picture of your goal that you constantly have in mind, it will be much easier for you to achieve it. In fact, the more results-focused you are and the sharper your vision is, the faster you’ll make it the reality.
Apart from the clear outcome, you also need to know why you want to accomplish your goal. It is your deeper purpose that drives you when things don’t go your way. Hence, it needs to be powerful enough to make you stick to your idea in the face of adversities, but if you are purpose-driven, you will persevere.
The last piece of the puzzle is the Massive Action Plan that answers the question of how you are going to achieve your goal. Without persistent and tenacious action, even the best well-thought-out plan will fail. With that in mind, all CEOs need to decisively act on their plans.Back to top
Elon Musk - Aim For Big Goals
Running three companies, Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink, requires from their CEO, Elon Musk, superior time management skills. Despite his schedule being extremely tight with an enormous number of things on his plate, he is able to stay on top of his goals. The key to Musk’s extraordinary outcomes lies in setting unbelievably challenging goals. In his own words:
"I say something, and then it usually happens. Maybe not on schedule, but it usually happens."
By aiming for higher and higher goals, the Tesla founder usually achieves things others consider impossible. Setting big and audacious goals generates creativity, forcing Musk and his teams to think outside the box and create unique solutions. Exciting and remarkable goals make people motivated and results-driven what significantly increases their productivity.
Being a great leader requires establishing massive objectives, seemingly unattainable, that push people out of their comfort zones. By challenging fixed methods and trying out new approaches, we are growing our skills. This is the moment when growth starts happening.
As Musk realizes that people usually underestimate their skills, he has become the master at pushing people’s limits in the pursuit of stretch goals. Setting the bar very high makes his teams achieve extraordinary results. Of course, some attempts end up with failures, but they are inevitable while learning to make progress.Back to top
Jack Dorsey - Assign a Specific Theme to Each Day of the Week
As the CEO and co-founder of Twitter, as well as the CEO and founder of Square, Jack Dorsey is as of this moment the only CEO on the S&P 500, supervising two of the tech industry’s fastest-growing public companies with 8000 employees worldwide. Waking up at 6.15 a.m., he works at both companies simultaneously by splitting his time equally between the two companies.
To make it work, he concentrates on one specific aspect of corporate development each day and tunes out the rest. The time management method he uses to run companies effectively is based on creating a separate theme for each day of the week. As running two companies in tandem is a challenge, during the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Jack Dorsey said:
“The only way to do this is to be very disciplined and very practiced and the way I found that works for me is I theme my days.”
On Mondays, the entrepreneur focuses on management and running the companies which means holding management one-on-one meetings. On Tuesday he focuses on product development, design, and engineering, while Wednesday is reserved for marketing, growth, and communication. As for Thursday, this day is designed for developers and partnerships, whereas Friday is dedicated to company issues, culture, and recruitment. While Saturday for the billionaire is usually a day off when he hikes, on Sunday he focuses on feedback, strategy, reflections, and preparing for the next week.
By creating themes for each day of the week, Jack Dorsey focuses his attention on predetermined issues which eliminates the constant need for making decisions about what to do next after each completed task. As you might have guessed, the daily themes technique saves a lot of time and highly increases not only Dorsey’s but also his teams’ productivity. His employees know that they have seven days to show progress and prepare answers to Jack Dorsey’s follow-up questions asked each Monday.
As CEOs have so many things on their plate, they tend to be watchful about how they spend their time. By being aware that they can’t buy, rent, or borrow time, CEOs usually perceive it as the most precious asset and guard it more diligently than average people. To feel in control of their time, accomplished CEOs value every minute of their life since they view time as a major determinant of their success or failure.
The above tips from the most accomplished CEOs in the world can help you become in control of your time and give you an advantage both in life and in business. However, they don’t work when they stay on paper, you need to put them into action, and only then can they help you achieve any goal you set your mind to.Back to top
Author: Justine Ilone Siporski is the founder, CEO and Editor-in-chief of BUSINESS POWERHOUSE, the founder and CEO of LANGUAGE EMPIRE, coach, trainer, investor and columnist dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurs, investors and the C-suite (CMOs, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs). Her key mission is to support leaders, business professionals and investors in achieving their highest potential, making the right business and investing decisions, and expanding their horizons.