Successful entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 CEO’s make their money in vastly different ways. However, they understand the importance of forming daily work habits to achieve success.
Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise, we found certain similarities in the work habits of these high achievers. Whilst implementation differs from CEO to CEO, the end goal remains the same: to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity to move the company forward.
1. They limit meetings
How often do you walk into a meeting where there’s no clear agenda and the timeframe isn’t stipulated? How often do you leave with no sense of direction and feeling it was more of a social gathering?
Whilst meetings are beneficial if short and to the point, the reality is most meetings are a time killer. Highly successful CEO’s understand this. They schedule meetings only when necessary.
Always ask yourself whether an e-mail, phone call or another form of communication will suffice, before scheduling a meeting. In the words of Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks and CEO of HDNet:
“Meetings are a waste of time unless you are closing a deal. There are so many ways to communicate in real time or asynchronously that any meeting you actually sit for should have a duration and set outcome before you agree to go.”
2. They stay on top of meetings they do have
For the important meetings, CEO’s have, they make sure they are on top of them. For example Patrick Gelsinger, CEO of software company VMWare codes his schedule by color. Blue represents meetings with partners and customers, red, investors or media, and yellow,strategy sessions.
3. They keep short to-do lists to define focus
There’s a lot vying for a CEO’s attention. Successful CEO’s also keep to-do lists. But not just any type of to-do list, short to-do lists, to ensure they focus on important activities; activities that will drive revenue. Productivity programs like Evernote and Trello help with creating the lists.
As an example consider the former CEO of Xerox who had no more than three objectives per day and Kevin O’Connor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Double Click who focuses on only a few things that will really drive company growth. For him, multitasking doesn’t work. And he’s not the only one who believes this. Kamal Kalra, Founder, and CEO of Gennubi and creator of NubiDo says the following:
“There’s no such thing as multitasking. The best way to be productive is to focus on one thing at a time and to do it as well as you can to completion.”
4. They plan their day in advance
To-do lists are also planned in advance. Barbara Corcoran who built one of New York’s largest real estate companies recommends ranking activities in advance from most to least important and crossing them out during the course of the day.
Furthermore, many CEO’s will compile to-do lists in the early morning or the night before in preparation for the upcoming day, for improved focus:
“In the morning or the night before, I write down a to-do list, a sort of priority of what I intend to accomplish that day. As the day progresses I scratch off items completed and open room for others. I find this helps me keep focused on the most important goals and not lose sight of what I primarily intended to accomplish that day.” Payman Taei, CEO, and founder of Visme
5. They manage their internet habits
It’s easy to get distracted when working; from e-mail and Facebook notifications to being sidetracked whilst researching on Google.
Top CEO’s manage these distractions. For instance, Fred Bateman who is the founder of Bateman Group uses a tool called StayFocused to track time spent on websites. The app alerts him and blocks offending sites when a 10 min timer is reached.
In speaking to Fast Company he strongly recommends “blocking all audio and visual notifications from Outlook, Facebook, and Twitter.
6. They kick e-mail to the curb
If your work day is built around responding to e-mail, your priorities are wrong. You’re being re-active instead of pro-active.
“More generally, email puts you in response mode, where you are doing what other people want you to do, rather than send mode, where you are deciding what you want to do and taking action.” – Anne-Marie Slaughter, Professor of politics and International relations at Princeton University, author of the popular article, “Why Women Still Can’t have it All” and Director of policy and planning for the US State Department.
E-mail is a productivity suck if not managed correctly. CEO’s have different e-mail management techniques. Consider Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linkedin. He follows what he believes is the golden rule of e-mail management. He sends less mail. He devised an experiment where he sent an e-mail only if necessary. The results were fewer e-mails and a less cluttered inbox. Gina Trapani, the owner of Lifehacker, uses a three-folder system, (1) Follow-up, (2) Hold and (3) Archive, and achieved similar results.
7. They aren’t afraid to ask for help and delegate
Successful CEO’s and entrepreneurs are busy people. The problem is they often try to do everything themselves. The reality is they need help. CEO’s recognize they don’t know everything and they have limited time. Delegation then is one of the common work habits.
Both Chip Wilson, founder of women’s clothing brand Lululemon and Kevin O’Leary – Shark Tank star support this view. Wilson says in speaking to Hubspot “It took me a long time to understand it, but the best advice I ever received was to ask for help when I need it.”
8. They rise for work early
The majority of CEOs have the work habit of rising early, with Brett Yormank, CEO of the Brooklyn Nets Basketball Franchise probably the best example. He wakes up at 03:30 in the morning.
9. They dedicate time to interact with people
Another common work habit of CEO’s is they dedicate time for employee interaction, daily.
CEO of Mixpanel, Suhail Doshi, believes this makes you more approachable. Dan Readron, CEO of North Highland, a $400 global management consulting firm highlights the importance of dedicating a few minutes every day to the young members of the organization:
“Walk around and encourage them and challenge them to push themselves to do more than they are comfortable with. You will soon find the rock stars.”
10. Monitoring Industry Trends
Lastly CEO’s develop work habits of staying abreast of current news and more specifically industry news and trends. Michael Bruch, CEO of the new social platform, Willow, spends an hour or two every day keeping up with Technology news on Twitter but recognizes the importance of not obsessing over what other people are doing.
There are countless other successful work habits CEO’s employ. Can you think of a few others?