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Time Management doesn’t matter, here is what does

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The first move almost anyone new to a highly managerial position makes? A list of tasks, followed by a neatly organised, colour-coded schedule on their calendar. Others go a step further and download the latest time management software. Three unplanned meetings later, an unforeseen problem with the server, and a project thrown at you out of nowhere –it dawns on you – you can coordinate your calendar all you like, you won’t be sticking to it.

The fact is, your role will place you in a constantly evolving environment. Your behaviour must be highly sensitive to the changes around you. Embrace it! More important than time management is “attention management”. Cal Newport coined the term ‘deep work’ – instead of highlighting the negative consequences of distraction, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite.

A recent Harvard Business School study found that the “average CEO spends one in three hours on activities that were not planned in advance.” That is 13 hours per week – more than a whole day.

Now, all that said, how does a CEO or anyone in a highly managerial position accomplish ‘deep work’?

Make a list of things that only you can do.

Anything else – whether it is reading correspondence or adhoc duties, delegate. This may leave your schedule bare, but vital to ‘deep work’ is to prioritise in a ruthless manner.

Death by a thousand cuts

I am not talking about paper cuts here. I am referring to the ability to say no. Often those in management roles find themselves accepting every invitation to maintain relationships: And while important, it also sets you on a slippery slope. Learn how to turn down an invitation politely, or refer to 1) and delegate.

Take the mundane moments and turn them into something special

Go for a long solitary walk where you get to direct your attention at nothing but the ideas you want to develop and give flesh to. Play an instrument, or take up a sport. Do something creative to aid your thought process. Prioritise it ruthlessly. Anna Wintour starts her day by playing tennis. You may not be the editor of vogue, but you ought to take a note or two from her.

Engage a chauffeur service

This is Malta. Driving – unless you’re going up the west coast to Dingli Cliffs – is an activity riddled with hassle and frustration. Time spent moving from one meeting to another could be time spent preparing. A chauffeur service gives you half an hour to make private calls, collect your thoughts, and breathe. A Chauffeur will learn nuances, anticipate your needs, will know when to chat en route, and when to give you silence. Use this time as your break, not as the time that irritates you further. Contact our partner, Dacoby, and let them tailor a chauffeur service package around your needs.

Keep moving forward, but once in a while, take a step back and get down in the trenches.

The Achilles heel of those who delegate projects and tasks, is that their conception of how much time and attention an activity requires is almost always wrong. This dissonance often leads to unmet deadlines and resentment. It is always good to push things forward, but pick a day every month and spend it, not in your office, but right by your employees. Experience work as they do.

What are your strategies to handling the life of a CEO? Any of these a priority?


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