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How Executives Waste the Most Time

Odds are very good that you spend to much time on certain activities and not enough time on others. Here are four common ways that time-management goes wrong.

A survey from McKinsey & Co. finds that only 9 percent of executives are "satisfied" with the way they spend their time.

The others? They fall into four time-management categories: crisis managers, cheerleaders, online junkies, and schmoozers. In each case, their predilections and comfort zones have them spending too much time on certain activities, and not enough time on others.

Where they go wrong:

"Crisis managers" or "firefighters" spend 67 percent more time on short-term, unexpected issues compared with the "satisfied" 9-percenters. But they spend 25 percent less time on face-to-face communication and strategy-setting.

"Schmoozers" spend 17 percent more time with clients and customers at the expense of communicating with their colleagues. They spend a whopping 46 percent less time alone, missing the chance to actually think about the things that matter most to the company.

"Online junkies" spend 36 percent more time on email and voice mail at the expense of face-to-face communication. They also don't spend enough time directly interacting with the people who report to them.

"Cheerleaders" spend 45 percent more time on pep talks with staff, but 39% less time with clients. For a CEO, this much focus on the people inside the company can be a real deficit, since there is a world of external stakeholders who also need attention. 

Source: 2013 McKinsey & Co. survey.

IMAGE: Getty Images
From the March 2014 issue of Inc. magazine


Scott Leibs is executive editor of Inc. magazine, where he oversees the Lead and Build sections while also handling a range of other writing and editing duties for the magazine, website, and custom publishing projects. He is a former editor in chief of CFO magazine and a former senior editor for InformationWeek, and has written for many other publications, including The Economist and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He is a graduate of Emerson College, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts.

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