Effectively managing your time becomes more important once you’re the leader of a company, a CEO. The impact of your decisions is great, so addressing and moving through issues efficiently is going to have positive repercussions.
So how do you best spend your time as a CEO? It’s not like the role fits neatly into a job description. Your role is delineated by the stage of your company, the size of your team, and the nature of your business.
In a recent Harvard study, the 27 CEOs of large companies ($13B average annual revenue), including only 2 women, revealed how they actually spend their time. Most work an average of 62.5 hours per week. The majority (over 70%) work on weekends and on vacation days. They got an average of 6.9 hours of sleep a night.
The breakdown of what they spend their time on goes like this:
- 25% people and relationships
- 25% functional, business unit reviews
- 21% strategy
- 16% organization and culture
which adds up to 87%. These percentages reflect a focus on working on the business, rather than in it, appropriate for a CEO, and a shift that many founders need to make if you want a sustainable business. The rest of their time is spent on mergers and acquisitions (4%), operational planning (4%), professional development (3%), and crisis management (1%).
Three-quarters of these CEOs’ time is scheduled, and 25% is open. Overall, 72% of their time is spent in meetings, and 61% of communication is face to face. Over 80% of a CEO’s time is spent in interactions with other people, according to a Columbia Business School professor.
Surprisingly, the perception that meetings are a waste of time turns out not to be true for CEOs. One key finding is that the more time a CEO spends in meetings with employees, the better the company does overall. That is true according to the key measures of growth over time and productivity, even when controlled for industry, size, location, and capital employed. It also means that you can have more impact within your company, helping employees increase their own impact.
How much time to do you spend with your employees? Something to consider increasing, given the benefits.
Your time is always valuable, and especially so in your role as CEO. Focusing on working on your business rather than in it has big rewards not just financially, but also for the impact that you and your company can have.