Time Management: How Leaders Should Spend Their Time

time spent on activities_knowledge workersThe following is an excerpt and executive overview of the McKinsey Quarterly article, Making Time Management the Organizations Priority, published in April 2013.

Our research and experience suggest that leaders who are serious about addressing this challenge must stop thinking about time management as primarily an individual problem and start addressing it institutionally. Time management isn’t just a personal-productivity issue over which companies have no control; it has increasingly become an organizational issue whose root causes are deeply embedded in corporate structures and cultures.

 When we asked nearly 1,500 executives across the globe2 to tell us how they spent their time, we found that only 9 percent of the respondents deemed themselves “very satisfied” with their current allocation. Less than half were “somewhat satisfied,” and about one-third were “actively dissatisfied.” What’s more, only 52 percent said that the way they spent their time largely matched their organizations’ strategic priorities. Nearly half admitted that they were not concentrating sufficiently on guiding the strategic direction of the business. These last two data points suggest that time challenges are influencing the well-being of companies, not just individuals.

Recommendations

  1. Develop a ‘leadership time’ budget: allocate a percentage of time for each major project or initiative that requires leadership guidance and attention.
  2. Consider ‘time’ when making organizational changes: when making structural and hierarchical changes to an organization, consider the ‘time’ factor managers have with direct reports.
  3. Measure individuals’ time: conduct time analysis exercises to provide awareness of where executives and workers spend their time. This creates a baseline and a starting point for changing time allocations
  4. Refine the master calendar: Review all meetings and calendars and make an assessment of which meetings support organizational goals/ initiatives. Also have a coding system of identifying reporting, problem solving, or decision type meetings.

Executives at the highest-performing organizations we’ve seen typically spend at least 50 percent of their time in decision meetings and less than 10 percent in reporting or information meetings.

5. Provide high quality administrative support: Provide executive leadership quality administrative support that understands where to allocate executives time.

Of those who deemed themselves effective time managers, 85 percent reported that they received strong support in scheduling and allocating time.The time pressures on senior leaders are intensifying, and the vast majority of them are frustrated by the difficulty of responding effectively. While executives cannot easily combat the external forces at work, they can treat time as a precious and increasingly scarce resource and tackle the institutional barriers to managing it well. The starting point is to get clear on organizational priorities—and to approach the challenge of aligning them with the way executives spend their time as a systemic organizational problem, not merely a personal one.

 

Online Reading: Recommended Apps

iStock_000012816202MediumMany professionals want to stay on top of trends, research and new products and services for their industry. Often we don’t have time at the moment we receive the email to read every interesting article that comes through. The following are two online reading applications that essentially allow users to tag and save articles and web-pages for later viewing via multiple devices.

Pocket is an online reading app, that lets you tag articles and sites to read at a later. It auto syncs with all mobile devices so that users can tag an article on their computer, go to a meeting, and read it from their tablet or smartphone. This app is free.

Instapaper allows you to save Web pages for reading offline later including posts on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. This app also provides the ability to view on mobile devices and will optimize the content for best readability. The app costs $3.99.

Productivity Blog Recommendations

Productivity Blog Recommendations

In order to support those New Year resolutions on being more organized and productive, take time to read from some experts on the subject. Here is a list of recommended productivity and organizational efficiency blogs:

Officiency: Ok, shameless plug, but we do offer a specialized focus on how to utilize technology to improve productivity including application resources and tips. Check out the categories to the right for various topics.

Zen Habits: Definitely one of the top blogs on simplicity and life balance. Leo Babauta is rated as one of the Top 25 blogs on productivity.

LifeHacker: LIfehacker has a series of topics it blogs on, one of which is productivity in the office and at work.

Your Life. Organized.: Monica Ricci, a professional organizer, based out of Atlanta writes on how to organize your life. She is witty and funny and always has some great tips.

ClutterDiet Blog: Lorie Marrero, author of the Clutter Diet book and program, includes hands-on videos to show you how to be more organized in your home and life.

David Allen: Author of Getting Things Done, David Allen, writes blog posts for the Huffington Post on personal and organizational productivity.

Becoming a Paperless Office: The Cost, Environmental and Efficiency Benefits

There is a clear environmental need for paperless offices. The paper industry is one of the world’s major polluting industries and one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases with over 900 million trees cut done annually. The EPA reports that paper is the number-one material thrown away, comprising 40% of our waste stream. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world.”

In addition to environmental impacts, paper is time consuming to manage. Record keeping constitutes more than 90% of all office activity. Studies indicate that of the paper filed, over 80% is never referenced again! One Xerox study showed that over 45% of the office paper that is discarded was thrown out on the day it was printed. A great deal of time is being wasted printing, sorting, purging, and filing paper.

Then there is the cost aspect of paper. According to the Association for Information and Image Management, the lifecycle cost of a document is over $20, which includes the cost of paper, printing, mailing, distribution, and handling fees. An older study done by Coopers and Lybrand in 1998 (now Price Waterhouse and Coopers) estimated the cost of paper management to be about $50 per document. In addition it takes up valuable real estate, it is estimated that it costs on average $314 per filing cabinet solely for the space it consumes in an office.

Essentially becoming a paperless office could reap the benefits of improved efficiency and effectiveness, reduce cost, and improve the brand and image of the company by becoming a better corporate environmental steward.

Let us help you become the paperless office through our consulting services or our Becoming a Paperless Office training. Contact us to learn more!

Teleworking Benefits: Saving Time, Money and Reducing CO2

As the work force continues to evolve and globalize, more companies are evaluating a telecommuting and working remotely strategy to save overhead costs, increase retention, improve productivity and lower carbon footprint.

According to a recent 2009 Cisco Telework Survey, they found approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remote, and 75 percent of those surveyed said the timeliness of their work improved. Cisco reported it has generated an estimated annual savings of $277 million in productivity by allowing employees to telework.

Teleworking can also be a great “green” initiative to promote in a company. It can not only reduce time spent on the road but lowers carbon footprint and reduces gas consumption. Vehicles on the road now account for at least 25 percent of the CO2 emissions nationwide, according to the Federal Highway Administration. According to the Telework Coalition, , based in Washington D.C., if 32 million working Americans could telecommute at least one day per week, they would save 74,164,700 gallons of gas.