An article ran (see below) in a recent Wall Street Journal suggesting that one of the biggest issues facing executives is time management.
It reminded me of a lunch I’d had several years ago with the CEO of an ocean-going container ship company at a Young Presidents’ Organization University in Athens. I do not recall the exact size of his company but I do remember its ranking was impressive, particularly for a private company.
I and about ten other CEOs were dining in his corporate headquarters and enjoying a lovely harbor view. I was seated next to our host so had the pleasure of a wide-ranging conversation. He spoke of the intriguing challenges facing his company and of how he was looking to expand and diversify by investing in real estate, particularly in the Eastern European countries, due north of Greece, that were just joining the European Union.
When he spoke of the scale of monetary investment he needed to make to justify the time investment, he made a statement I have always remembered. “Five million or fifty million, one worry.”
In other words, he only had so much “mind space” available and he had to save it for concerns and issues of sufficient importance.
I have always thought that time management is as much energy management as anything else. You are managing/allocating your energy (you also can think of it as self management).
I do not know about you, but I’ve got more time than energy. While I’m always looking for ways to work harder/smarter and to increase and expand my energy levels, I’ve observed there are certain times when I’m at my peak. I tend to schedule my most important meetings in the morning and early afternoon when I’m at my best. I like to schedule property walks in the afternoon when physical activity helps keep me alert.
Managing my energy levels, keeping them high and focused, staying aware of what events, words, and people energize or drain me, has always served me in good stead.
THEORY & PRACTICE: Executives Resolve To Work and Play Efficiently in 2008
By ERIN WHITE, JOANN S. LUBLIN and PHRED DVORAK
December 31, 2007; The Wall Street Journal, Page B3
Time. It’s a boss’s most finite resource; there’s no way to expand the supply. So managers must strive to make better use of it. As 2007 expires, we asked executives to reflect on how well they fulfilled resolutions to better manage time this year.
Mike Durney, the 45-year-old chief financial officer of online recruiter Dice Holdings Inc., says, “I’m not very good at time management.” This year, New York-based Mr. Durney resolved to handle matters involving Dice’s London office early in the day so British staffers, five hours ahead, didn’t have to work into the evening.
It didn’t always go that way, though. Mr. Durney sometimes had to attend morning meetings, forcing him to call or email London later in the day. “I can’t say I actually succeeded totally,” he says.
In 2008, Mr. Durney will try a new strategy: setting aside blocks of time for email and investor calls. Following Dice’s public offering in July, Mr. Durney found himself juggling investor calls amid other tasks. So he’ll now publicize times each week in which he’ll promise investors his full attention.
For email, which Mr. Durney says can be “overwhelming,” he plans to put down certain times in his calendar and try not to use email at other times. To help minimize distractions, he’ll turn off the beeping alert that signals new mail arriving.
Nortel Networks Corp. Chief Executive Mike Zafirovski also hopes to minimize email distraction. This year, Mr. Zafirovski resolved to respond quickly to email, so that he never had more than 99 unanswered messages. He thinks he did well, but he would like to reduce Nortel’s internal email traffic. “I know I get too many emails, and probably issue too many as well,” he says.
Mr. Zafirovski, 54, says he didn’t do as well with his other major 2007 resolution: start and finish internal meetings on time. He blames aggressive agendas and a relatively new management team, which he assembled after arriving at Nortel in late 2005. “This continues to be a challenge and will be a carryover resolution for next year,” he says.
Many executives resolve to strike a better balance between work and life. Some admit failure. “I always say, ‘I have to manage my time better. … I have to be a real person with a real life,’ ” says David Joys, a 64-year-old partner at executive recruiter Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. Mr. Joys says he again broke his resolution, working many weekends and spending less time than he would have liked at his vacation home in Montana.
Others did better. Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at staffing company Adecco Group North America, a unit of Swiss-based Adecco SA, used all her 30 vacation days and arrived home by 6:30 p.m. “more than half the time” when her husband, an executive at a paper company, wasn’t away on business. “I am at a point in my life where my personal life is more and more important to me,” says Ms. Kenny, who has two grown children. Next year, she resolves to better coordinate her work schedule with her husband’s.
Randall O. Perry took even more time off: 2 months to climb mountains with his 16-year-old son, including Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Mr. Perry, 49, is chief executive of Interstate Risk Insurance Services Inc., Concord, Calif. To get more free time, Mr. Perry pared his operating responsibilities and tapped independent brokers to help sell policies.
Next year, Mr. Perry plans to tackle Mount McKinley in Alaska as part of a plan to climb the highest peak on each continent. The plan was born on a 2006 hike through the Andes Mountains in Peru. “I’m not going to be carried out of here on a stretcher without seeing more of the world,” he vows.
Mr. Perry says he always summits with a notebook to scribble ideas. “I thought up the latest program for car dealers when I was on top of Kilimanjaro,” he says.
John Racanelli, chief executive of strategy consultancy Racanelli Partners Inc., boasts that he snuck out of his San Rafael, Calif., office 39 times this year to surf. The 52-year-old Mr. Racanelli is a veteran surfer who was an executive at aquaria in California and Florida before starting his own business.
His biggest challenge is planning absences to coincide with good waves, which are unpredictable. He begged off one conference call by telling a client that he had an “unexpected board meeting.”
“It was a meeting with my surfboard,” Mr. Racanelli says with a laugh. “Technically, it was correct.”