Contributed by Aytekin Tank, founder of JotForm,
We’ve all heard the expression, “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” In truth, we’ve likely all said it at some point. Time management is a struggle for everybody, but especially entrepreneurs, CEOs and founders.
Interestingly, some people seem to get more out of our 24 hours each day than others. As author Idowu Koyenikan said, the key to making the most of our hours isn’t time management—it’s life management. People who do it successfully balance the things they love with tasks they need to complete to maintain a well-rounded, satisfying life.
To-do lists or any one of the countless books on time management can help you achieve this balance, but things will eventually fall apart unless you make a habit of productivity—and stick to it. This might mean writing down your top priorities for the day or week, using a productivity app, or creating a plan that works best for you.
The Truth About Time Management for CEOs
When it comes to time management skills and techniques, business leaders are among the worst offenders. This typically happens because of the nature of leadership positions. These individuals are driven by the feeling that they have to do everything or have all the answers. They’re also responsible for a lot: On average, CEOs work 9.7 hours per weekday and spend 79 percent of weekend days and 70 percent of their vacation days working.
Success doesn’t come from adding countless tasks to your calendar and putting in the longest possible hours, though. It comes from purposeful, intentional work, which means managing your time more effectively so you can focus on what really matters. To get there, business leaders have to reset their time-management expectations.
Simply using productivity tools doesn’t lead to better time management—developing concrete time-management skills does.
How Are You Managing Your Time?
While CEOs and business leaders have countless resources at their disposal, they frequently lack time. Here are four steps to improve your time-management skills and techniques so that you can maximize the time you do have:
- Take a time inventory. If you get eight hours of sleep each night, you have 112 hours left each week to tackle your personal and professional tasks. Conduct a “time inventory” to figure out how you’re spending that time. Project management involves setting goals, scheduling, delegating, and making decisions. Attention management refers to your ability to focus on the task at hand; you have to know why you’re procrastinating before you can improve your productivity.
- Compare how you thought you spent your time to how you actually spent it. We often think we’re using our time effectively, but that’s not always the case. You might be surprised to see how much time you’re spending on auxiliary tasksthat aren’t contributing to your success. Evaluate how you spend your time, making changes where you see the opportunity.
- Identify problem tasks. Figure out the tasks that drain your time the most, taking a moment to explore why they eat up so much time. Do you dread certain projects? Are you distracted? Thinking through the answers to these questions will give you quality insight into what might be keeping you from maximizing those hours.
- Pick a strategy and stick to it. Once you know whether a problem stems from project management or attention management (or a little of both), you can approach it with a suitable strategy. Outline long-term ways to move forward that propel you toward productivity and help you improve weaknesses.
To some degree, business leaders are always clocked in; the task list never ends when you’re building a successful business. Strong time management reduces the time spent on tasks that aren’t helping you succeed, allowing you to prioritize activities that benefit you and your business. Reset your expectations for time management and involvement, approach the problem in the right way, and reap the rewards of productivity.
Aytekin Tank is the founder of JotForm, a popular online form builder. Established in 2006, JotForm enables customizable data collection for enhanced lead generation, survey distribution, payment collection, and more.