Make Time to Save Time: 4 Ways Executive Directors Can Model Time Management

4 Ways Executive Directors Can Model Time Management

8:00am – 9:00am – Executive Team Mtg
10:00am – 10:30am – Call with RobinHood
11:00am – Noon – Mtg with Linda (CFO) re: prep for board mtg
2:00pm – 3:00pm – Mtg with Harry (HR Exec) re: prep for board mtg
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Touchbase with Board chair

A snapshot in the day of an executive director…looks doable, right? Well, by 2:00pm that ED is mentally fried. What caused it?…intense meetings, a tenacious CFO, unwanted news from Robinhood – all plausible, but more often than not, it is what happens in between the meetings that drains the brain:

8:00am – 9:00am – Executive Team Mtg
Email check 2x
2 unscheduled calls
2 “drop by” visitors
Voicemail check
10:00am – 10:30am – Call with RobinHood
Email check
1 “drop by” visitors
Voicemail check
11:00am – Noon – Mtg with Linda (CFO) re: prep for board mtg
2 random meetings
Email check 4x
3 “drop by” visitors
Voicemail check
2:00pm – 3:00pm – Mtg with Harry (HR Exec) re: prep for board mtg
Email check 2x
2 unscheduled calls
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Touchbase with Board chair
5:00pm – Finish mtg with CFO

Phew! Is it time to go home yet?

It is a good practice to have a buffer in your calendar for the unplanned and unexpected, but if not managed, “urgent “tasks can hijack your day. After all, urgency can be very seductive with its wide eyes and “rescue me” voice.

As ED, whether you realize or not, you set the tone for the rest of the organization about time management. By being mindful of your time and proactively managing it, you pave the way for others to follow. Here are 4 low effort, low cost ways to model it:

  • Check email at scheduled times rather than every time you have an “opening”. This will keep you from getting distracted by the lure of urgency.
  • If something requires an immediate response, don’t send an email. Call the person first. By doing it this way, you are saying to your staff, “I don’t expect you to stay glued to your email so when something is really urgent, I will call you”.
  • Politely redirect unplanned visitors. Sounds counter to an “open door” policy, but it is not if handle properly. An “open door” policy is meant to encourage transparency and access to leaders when needed. It is not a license to zap people’s time for no good reason If the unplanned visitor doesn’t have an urgent and important issue, kindly tell them upfront that you only have ______(#) minutes before __________ (your next activity) and ask can someone else help them. If they say no and need more time than you have allotted, ask them to schedule a _______ (# of minutes) meeting on your calendar.
  • Unproductive meetings are the biggest time/energy/resource drain for many organizations. As Death by Meetings – 5 Tips for Better Meetings points out – bad meetings are not inevitable. Get creative about how you can make meetings more efficient and productive in your organization. For example, to reduce the meeting time and get people on their feet more, some companies hold standing up meetings. Melissa Dahl of New York Magazine recently wrote that standing up meetings can reduce meeting time by 34%.