In recognition that none of us can outwork our jobs, I’ve been thinking a lot about time management lately. To this end, I’ve been listening to a nifty book called 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management and wanted to share a few of these not-so-secret secrets filtered by my own experiments.
Isolate Your Impact
Let’s agree that as CMO you can have a critical impact at your organization on everything from revenue growth to employee retention, brand building to the customer experience. But how much time do you actually spend on your big goals? (See Step 3 audit suggestion below.) Now imagine if you said to yourself, “I have 5 major work goals and I’m going to dedicate one day per week to each of them.” Maybe little things would slip by, and so what? Your team would look at you and their relationship to your schedule with a newfound clarity of purpose.
Ditch the To-Do List
There’s always more to do. The lists of your potential tasks could be endless. But why create anxiety for yourself with long lists of things when we’ve already established you need to focus on impact, on making a big difference, not getting little stuff done? If it is important enough for you to do, put it on your calendar and delegate the rest. And by the way, we’re talking personal stuff too like talking to family, working out, meditating, or just leaving the office.
Audit Your Actions
One of the advantages of putting everything on your calendar is that it makes it easy to audit how you’re spending your time. Of course, you’ll need to add audit to your calendar but imagine the rewards of freeing up 6-8 hours a week. Create buckets like essential meetings, other meetings, email, strategic thinking, employee growth, customer retention, customer acquisition, personal growth, etc.
Ruthlessly Eliminate Email
Email is the biggest time-suck after meetings. Easily 2-3 hours per day. Force your team to write shorter and better emails. Make them add action required to the subject line. Use initials in subject lines like NRR (no response required) and include deadlines if there is one. Schedule three 15-20 minute blocks for email reading each day (and then put your phone down!).
Avoid reading them twice by responding to the quickly answerable (then file or delete) and adding the ones that require more thinking time directly to your calendar (in Outlook, you can turn emails into calendar slots with one click). Ruthlessly delete all others. Unsubscribe to all the newsletters you don’t read including this one if it isn’t cutting it!
Acquire an Admin
As the saying goes, if you don’t have an admin, you are the admin. Fix that even if you have to pay for a virtual assistant out of your own pocket. Besides helping you do the audit above, they can give you back at least 10 hours a week responding to non-essential emails, scheduling, managing your calendar, booking travel, saying no to unsolicited inquiries, coordinating with your team, and on and on. Sure, you can do these things yourself but let’s go back to point #1, isolate your impact.
How much more impact could you have if you could carve out another 10 hours just for your top priorities? If you have other force multipliers to share, please let us know.