Too often people need more hours in a day. The lists of tasks that need to be completed grow rather than shrink in size, especially when you are the central decision-maker for a school. Meetings, interruptions and office politics eat away at your time. Here are five ways some of the country’s top executives manage their time to increase productivity.
Ways to increase productivity
- Reduce meeting times
How many times have you been stuck in an hour-long meeting that could have been completed in 20 minutes? Probably too many. If you were to reduce one hour-long meeting request per day by just 25% you would gain back hours of usable work time per month. Some go even further than that.
Gary E. McCullough, former U.S. Army captain and CEO of Career Education Corp., said in a 2009 interview with the New York Times, "If they say an hour, we cut it in half. If they say 30 minutes, we cut it to 15, because it forces people to be clearer and more concise. By doing that, I’m able to cram a number of things into the day and move people in and out more effectively and more efficiently.
- Keep focus on your mission
Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “I keep things focused. The speech I give every day is: 'This is what we do. Is what we are doing consistent with that, and can it change the world?’”
Almost universally this piece of advice is given by top CEOs. Many details come up that distract from the core of why tasks need to be done. That’s why good leaders keep the mission front and center so everyone from the top down know what they are working toward.
Jared Smith, the cofounder of Qualtrics, said of Schmidt, “A simple thing he taught me: When you are in a meeting, be very careful what you comment on, because if you say too much, people won’t know what’s important.”
- Let others develop ownership
Telling someone what to work on and exactly how to do it isn’t always the most efficient use of time. Often that can lead to employees not voicing their opinions or thoughts about how to do the job better. Inviting discussion on the way something could be handled and even the time frame in which the desired result can be achieved helps give the sense of ownership on the product which produces better overall results.
Former executive for Fidelity and MFS Investment Management, Bob Pozen said in the Harvard Business Review, “At the end of a meeting I will always ask, “What are the to-dos, who’s going to take care of them, and when will they be delivered?” I want the participants to agree on the deliverables and to set their own timetable. Then they will have an ownership interest in the follow-up, rather than just going along with my directions. And they often select a more aggressive timetable than I would have had the nerve to suggest.”
- Work backwards from your goals
When Founder and CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos was asked what his headcount goal was for the Washington Post he said, “There are no extra points in business for growing headcount. The goal is not to grow headcount; the goal is to serve readers, and then you work backward from there.”
Knowing what the goal is an essential part of achieving it. Keeping all of your employees focused on where you want to be will help everyone work toward a single-unified message.
- Be open to new ideas
Innovation is key to growth and survival in any business or service. Rarely do the best ideas come from only one person. Even Einstein took a job in a Swiss patent office with a former classmate where the repeated discussions about the Theory of Relativity finally produced the breakthrough he needed.
Keeping an open environment in which employees are encouraged to voice their ideas or ways to stay current in the market can make not only for a more enjoyable work experience, but strengthen the overall management you provide.