Members were asked to put forward their secrets, tools, and tips they use to make every work hour count.
Here are six strategies that have worked for them:
- Say 'no'
As a CEO, you are regularly being asked to give your time. People will try to connect with you through LinkedIn and email, and ask to meet for coffee, just so they can 'chat and learn about you', or 'pick your brain'. All good and well, but all of this activity saps your precious time. Sometimes you just have to say 'no'.
Saying 'no' is so hard. But you have to draw the line somewhere. Ask for specifics about what they would like to discuss and decide if there is a real reason to meet before locking anything into your diary.
- Be ruthless with your inbox
Most CEOs are very productive and make it a priority to get to inbox zero. Just think about postal mail - do you pick your letters up, look at each one and then put them back down only to pick them up and put them down again and again?
If you can respond to or act on any email in under two minutes, do it immediately. If it requires more than two minutes, move it into a folder or task manager to process later. When you do this, you have the ability to prioritise tasks and emails in relation to each other, and your inbox no longer owns your time.
- Manage your energy
Not too long ago, the average human used to walk 12 miles a day. Now we sit. Statistics show that those of us who work in an office environment, we are on average spending 9.3 hours sitting every day. This is more than most of us sleep!
We were born to move. It's vital to our health, but also our ability to be effective. Have your meeting while on a walk. Walk around the office in your scheduled breaks. Stand up now and then.
Block off an hour to two when you are at your most alert and use this time to work on your three top priorities - for many of us, this will be first thing in the morning.
- Manage your meeting time
Simply put, have less meetings. Never attend a meeting unless you understand the purpose of the meeting, and never leave a meeting until you've decided what the outcome is.
- Get help
Even if you do have an assistant, make technology your friend. There are plenty of apps and programs these days that can make a dramatic impact on your efficiency in the office.
- Empower your team
All members at the Syndicate meeting agreed that the most productive CEOs are converts of 'management by walking around'. Every day, they circulate the office and stop to talk to their people one-on-one or in small groups. They ask what barriers they are encountering, and for their thoughts on how to improve products, processes, sales, or services. These CEOs also use this opportunity to 'de-risk' decisions, if employees are struggling to make a call.
If you can't answer an employee's question off the top of your head, you need to get back to him or her with an answer in reasonable time - responsiveness is key.
By implementing these simple tips, you will hopefully end up spending less time in meetings and on your inbox. Most importantly, you can get back to leading, inspiring, closing deals and changing the world.
The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015, the New Zealand office opened.
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.
Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.