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PRODUCTIVITY

How CEOs Waste 70% of Their Time Each Day

First Round Capital Partner Bill Trenchard says that CEOs spend the majority of their workdays inefficiently. These nifty tips can help.

More than half of your workday could be spent more effectively. While that's hard a hard pill to swallow, you're not the only one who can stand to gain from a little schedule revamping. 

"Looking at the schedule of a typical CEO, a full 70 percent of that time is sub-optimal, and I'll back that up with my own experience," First Round Capital Partner Bill Trenchard wrote in a recent blog post. Trenchard served as the CEO of three different companies before joining the San Francisco-based venture capital firm. 

Now he spends his time meeting with dozens of CEOs regularly. Recently, he asked those of them who he considers to be "superhuman" time managers to share some of their best strategies. Here's a summary of the results from those interviews. 

1. Create "no" email templates

One of the most effective ways to protect your time is to say "no." It's not easy turning someone down, no matter what the situation. Additionally, declining an invitation tactfully takes time. For these reasons you should create email templates so that saying "no" is just a little bit easier.

"This lets you put the time and attention you want into crafting a response," Trenchard said. "The most important thing is that you close the door to further communication. Do it nicely in a way that truthfully explains the situation, but don’t leave things open-ended."

2. Adopt one of three email strategies

You need a plan of attack in order to effectively manage your emails. The best strategy simply depends on your personal work style and preference. There's the "all day" strategy, meaning that you're quick to respond to emails right as they come in. This can be efficient, but it can also be incredibly distracting. 

"Batching" emails involves looking at your inbox two to four times a day and responding to everything then. The third approach is to enlist help. If you can afford to hire an assistant, it can turbo-charge your whole life, Trenchard said.

3. Write playbooks 

A good way to avoid getting held up by someone who needs your assistance is to hand them an instruction manual, if possible. That's not to say you should spend your time writing step by step how-to guides. 

Instead, create playbooks just for those processes that you've performed more than three times. Then hand the guides off to someone else so they can see exactly how you did it.

4. Optimize (or eliminate) the internal meeting 

In general startups have too many meetings. Status meetings can be completely eliminated by using Google docs as an alternative. Just have everyone update and read the document once a week.

 

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Last updated: Mar 26, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




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