The Surprising Lack of Time of CEOs – and what to do about it

by | Oct 12, 2021 | CEO/Executive Directors, Focus | 0 comments

Have you ever looked at a CEO and thought, “It must be nice to be the boss. To have complete control of your time. To do whatever you want.”

And then you became a CEO?

It feels like you must be doing something wrong, doesn’t it? All those other bosses and CEOs seemed to live the life you wanted. But here you are, drowning in everybody else’s demands.

What happened to having “complete control” over your time? Where do the hours go?

Good News About Your Time Now That You’re the CEO

The good news is: you still have 24 hours a day, just like everyone else.

Bad News About Your Time Now That You’re the CEO

The bad news about your time is: everyone wants a piece of it.

Much of “Your” Time is No Longer Your Own

Think about it, before you were in charge didn’t you want some face time with your boss? Now you are in charge, or at least have the title indicating you’re in charge, you find that every single person seems to want to be on your schedule.

And often it’s not the people that are the best use of your time.

Oh yes, every single person has inestimable worth. That is true. Yet, you still only have 24 hours. And there are some people who would do amazing things with a little of your time while there are others who would do no-thing despite having time with you.

And that doesn’t even begin to account for the projects you need to work on yourself. Or the visioning you wanted to do.

A Common Trap for CEOs

When faced with this time pressure, many CEOs make the common mistake of reverting to a non-CEO function. They start trying to solve problems.

Solving problems feels good. And in the past, others have liked us solving problems for them. The challenge now is that, as the CEO, you are trying to grow people who’ll solve problems. Not people who’ll keep bringing problems to you, expecting you to have the perfect fix.

One Way to Gain Focus

One of the ways to gain focus, is by taking time in the morning to review your day. Even just a few minutes. Daily Planning Focus Sheet

A simple piece of paper like the Daily Focus Sheet gives three big areas of your day: meetings, projects, and follow up.

  • In the “meetings” section, handwrite the time of each meeting or call and the name of the person it is with. Then a reminder of what your goal for that meeting is. Always determine a goal before you go into the meeting. It can be just a word or phrase. But writing it down now will make it far more easy to remember later on in the day.
  • In the “projects” area, list the major projects you are working. Write down any necessary next actions. Capture it now, before you get into the craziness of the day.
  • And in the “follow- ups” section, quickly brainstorm a list of people you need to follow-up with. It might be people you need to call, or emails you need to write, or notes you need to mail.

A Few Minutes of Focus for a Day of CEO Poise

You’ll be amazed at how much more prepared you feel. You’ll arrive at each meeting feeling a bit more centered. And you’ll be able to work on the most important tasks and follow ups in the times between those meetings.

A benefit of a simple plan like this is it’s easy to start. Rather than needing an elaborate new framework, you can print out a piece of paper. Or even jot these in a notes app on your phone or tablet. A nice thing about paper on your desk is that, if you’re at your desk most of the day, the paper is just there. You don’t have to remember to turn it on or to open an app. It’s just sitting there, reminding you of what is most important to do.

And it can have you acting like a CEO helping grow leaders who are skilled problem solvers than being the person who tries to fix everyone’s issues.

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