Ask anyone what they think about the life of an executive, and you’ll get the same assumption: BUSY. According to a study conducted by two Harvard professors, executives do indeed lead busier lives, working for an average of 9.7 hours per weekday, 62.5 hours a week. But here’s the thing: these figures were obtained in 2006, long before the pandemic disrupted the modern workplace. In 2020, most companies transitioned to remote and hybrid work, so executives, too, had to get used to a new kind of leadership. From home, without being able to see their employees or business partners, and without the “milestones” of a normal workday, leading suddenly became more stressful. Time management was the biggest problem. Since this was a new way of working, many executives discovered that it was much harder to plan their day and, most of the time, worked incessantly, trying to compensate for not being at the office.
As the lines between work and personal life became more blurred, the burnout rate among executives started to rise, and managers found themselves doing too much and achieving too little. If you struggled to stay organised, achieve your goals, and prioritize self-care while working from home, these tips can help:
Use a productivity app.
Do you still use a notebook to sort out your tasks? Or worse, you only plan your day in your head? While this may seem to work, it’s not the most efficient way of organising your time. To have a clear overview of the day/week ahead, use a productivity app instead. There are hundreds to choose from, both free and paid, and the biggest benefit of using them is that you’ll never forget to do something again. You can set reminders, sort tasks by priority, move tasks from one day to the next, and everything is synced in the cloud, which means that you can access your calendars and task lists from any Internet-connected device. Another great feature is that you can share calendars and task lists. This way, you can keep other people in the loop without having to message them personally about your plans.
If you still do everything yourself, you may be familiar with these excuses:
- It’s faster to do the work myself than explain to someone else how to do it(True, but you only have to explain it once).
- I don’t trust anyone else to do this job(If you never trust your employees, they’ll never manage to grow and hone their skills).
- Doing this task makes me feel indispensable to my team (Your team might appreciate your work in other areas too)
One study showed that executives who delegate tasks generate up to 33% more revenue, so learn to say no to some tasks. Of course, you don’t have to delegate absolutely everything – just those tasks that someone else can do and that prevent you from focusing on big-picture things.
Hire a virtual assistant
Most executives have trouble fitting things into their schedule, but not because everything they do involves strategic planning and leadership. A lot of the time, an executive’s time is taken up by admin work, sending emails, scheduling meetings, and other small yet annoying tasks. By the time you finish these tasks, you may not have enough energy to work on management duties, which are the ones that really count. To save time and be more productive, you can hire a virtual assistant who can help you remotely. Virtual assistant agencies like Virtalent can put you in touch with an assistant who is familiar with your field and activity and can do the tasks that take too much of your time, whether that’s inbox management, scheduling, project management, or HR.
Apply the 80/20 rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of your results are determined by 20% of your activities. In other words, a successful and productive executive isn’t necessarily someone who works for twelve hours a day, but someone who uses their time wisely, on the right things. If you know your strengths, you can achieve in two days more than other managers in one week, so, to truly boost your productivity, you need to follow these steps:
- Pinpoint the things you are great at, and that can only be done by you
- Rank your daily tasks based on the amount of effort they involve
- Next up, rank the tasks again based on the impact they have on the company
- Identify the tasks that waste too much time
- Delegate time-consuming tasks to another employee or to a virtual assistant
- Work on critical tasks when you feel the most productive
Know when to take time off
“I’ll rest when I’m dead” may be a popular saying among executives, but it’s one of the most toxic, self-sabotaging principles one could follow. While being responsible and hardworking is essential for any ambitious entrepreneur, working non-stop and neglecting your personal needs will never take you too far. First of all, not taking time off sooner or later affects your physical and mental health. In time, stress and burnout increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other dangerous chronic conditions, reducing your quality of life. Secondly, neglecting self-care is scientifically proven to make you a bad leader. Multiple studies have shown that chronic stress impairs your ability to make good decisions in critical moments, think fast under pressure, and solve workplace conflicts. You may think of stress as something that only affects you, but if you are constantly tired and irritable, that will transfer to your employees, potentially causing workplace tensions and high staff turnover.
Multitasking is NOT your friend.
Multitasking may make you feel like a superhero, but if you look strictly at the results, it rarely ever works. According to science, less than 3% of people can multitask effectively. In the rest of the cases, multitasking only gives you the illusion of productivity, but you don’t do those things as well as you could by taking them one at a time, and that’s because your brain jumps back and forth and cannot focus properly.
Interesting Related Article: “The Business Planning Methods That Work“