Sunday, September 24, 2023

Nine ways CEOs can add structure to their workdays and maximize productivity

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Whether you run a vibrant start-up or an established company, as a CEO your days are likely filled with endless meetings, questions from executives or employees, “fires” to put out, and very little time to get real work done. Without an intentional plan or schedule, your day can fly by, allowing your work — and your stress — to build up over time.

But adding a little structure to your working day doesn’t have to be complicated. Below nine members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs speak with their own experience as business leaders, each recommending a way CEOs can build structure into their workday to help them maximize their productivity and why it’s so important to do so.

1. Start your day with your most dreaded task

Make sure that the thing you dread the most is the very first thing you do. Get it out of the way when you’re at the peak of your energy and freshness for the day. Chances are you’re dreading it because it’s difficult but important. An example might be preparing for tax season. It will be boring, tedious and devoid of creativity, but it is absolutely crucial to the future of you and everyone else in the company. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

2. Group similar activities together

One productivity tip I swear by is time blocking. I’m a startup CEO, so if I’m not careful I could spend my day jumping back and forth between projects and tasks without having time to get anything done. I find time blocking extremely helpful, and it allows me to group similar activities together so I don’t lose time reorienting myself. For example, I will reserve the afternoon for meetings where possible. This gives me the morning to get busy work done, and then when I finish my meetings in the afternoon, I have time to digest the conversations and come up with action items for the next day. – Diana Goodwin, MarketBox

3. Determine up to three high priority tasks for the day

Without any structure, my day could easily be taken up with replying to Slack messages, checking Trello notifications, replying to emails, attending meetings, and the like. In fact, if I don’t structure my days in advance, my day will end up looking like this and I’ll find myself working when I get home. I build structure into my workday by having one to three high-priority tasks in mind that I want to accomplish each day. I give myself a range of one to three because I never know what will happen during the day. As a CEO you often feel like there are so many things to do and there’s never enough time, so I’m merciful to myself. When I feel productive, I can get all three tasks done. If not, one task is enough. At least I know I’ve accomplished something. – Simon Bacher, Ling app

4. Take a real lunch break

Have lunch with someone else and not as a solo meal. CEOs in personal offices can meet management in the break room or common room for a 30-minute lunch. The other person could be a manager, co-worker, or even a family member if you work from home. Clock back in once you’re done, but set a time to enjoy a meal. Setting boundaries is important, but a lunch date reaffirms a commitment where you take some time to recharge and stretch. Charging reduces potential burnout, and you also get the chance to spend time with someone you would otherwise miss during a standard work day. You can then go back to work with more energy. – Duran Inc, Optimal7

5. Make use of modular routines

Every CEO’s work day will be different based on their unique needs and schedule. However, one way a CEO can build structure into his workday to help him maximize his productivity is by creating a daily schedule using modular routines. We all know the value of using a set routine. It can help you get into “work mode” and help you focus on the tasks at hand. But schedules with a lot of variation can make this a challenge. So I like to use what I call modular routines. These are fixed time blocks for core tasks. For example, I set a time block of one hour to catch up on my VIP emails. This can be at different times, but it is always a daily to-do. I just drag the item to where it makes the most sense that day. – Richard Fung, Reliable technology

6. Schedule time to think and brainstorm

A fun way a CEO can structure his workday to help him maximize his productivity is by setting aside special time for creative brainstorming. This can be done by scheduling 30 minutes each day for uninterrupted thinking and idea generation. This is critical as it allows the CEO to step away from his normal day-to-day duties and focus on the longer term strategy and vision. It also helps to keep the CEO motivated and inspired, while providing a much-needed break from the rigors of day-to-day work. From my own experience, I find that taking the time to step back and think more creatively leads to more efficient and effective decision making, which in turn leads to increased productivity. – Rachel Bother, PRESS Modern Massage

7. Break your day into productive intervals

A CEO can structure his working day by using the Pomodoro technique. It’s a technique that allows you to break your workday into short, productive intervals. Each interval lasts 30 minutes. You work for 25 minutes straight and then take a short break of 5 minutes. This is one of the best ways to maximize productivity, as the activity window is so small there’s literally no room for distractions. I personally use this technique and each session feels like an achievement because you are one step closer to completing the task. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable shapes

8. Organize your to-do list by impact

Prioritize projects based on their overall impact on the business. This ensures that you maximize ROI based on time and effort spent. It’s easier to move the needle this way without being burdened and overwhelmed by dozens of little tasks that can eat you up on your limited hours each day. If you can generate additional revenue, cost savings, or efficiencies, you can hire additional help to take over some of your low-impact but time-consuming tasks. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep mattress

9. Allocate only a certain amount of time per task

I find that having time allotments for my tasks helps build and maintain the workday structure. I move on to the next task even if I don’t finish something in the allotted time, then allow extra time at the end of the day to go back and finish. This system keeps my day flowing and helps increase productivity. – Baruch Labunski, Rank safe


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