For the last seven years, job search and recruiting site Glassdoor has released its ranking of the top CEOs based on employee reviews. This year, VMware's CEO Pat Gelsinger was both the top tech CEO and top overall, with a 99 percent approval from his employees.
That's impressive for sure, but even more so was this comment in an interview with Glassdoor about his best productivity hack. Instead of talking about his favorite tech tool or technique to get more done, his answer was simple; maintain work-life balance and you'll get more done.
Knowing when to quit.
"Something I established with my wife years ago is a points system. I earn points if I leave the office at 5 p.m, but points get subtracted if I work until 6:30 pm. The net effect is that I'm more productive in my time at the office. It ensures that when I'm home, I'm 100 percent focused on being at home. Conversely, when I'm at work, I'm 100 percent focused on my work life," says Gelsigner.
In an industry known for extreme work hours and burnout, Gelsigner says that his trick to getting more done is knowing when to quit for the day. I think that's brilliant and I totally agree.
It's certainly easy to fall into the trap that if we're working more we're getting more done, but that's not always true. Measuring work and productivity are two different things. In fact, work is sometimes just a measure of busy-ness, whereas productivity is a measure of accomplishment. I love the mentality that the best way to actually accomplish more is to avoid the tendency to be "busy."
Be productive by being prepared.
Gelsinger went on to say "I'm typically in the office by 6 a.m and I clean out my inbox every morning to get to a single page of emails. I use those precious early-morning hours to review priorities and prepare for my day. Every time I do that, I start out on top of the day, with a handle on what's coming. And it makes me far more productive throughout the day."
The goal isn't to work longer, but to get more actual work done. To do that, Gelsinger starts each day by cleaning out the email inbox so that there is nothing lingering over his head that feels like it requires his attention.
I've said many times that email has killed many productive work days, and I love the idea that triaging and dealing with as much of it as possible up front gives you a clean slate as you start your workday.
Your team will follow your lead.
Not only is this important in your own work habits, but clearly it has an effect on the people who work around you and for you. Many of them signed on to your adventure to accomplish great things, and they are far more likely to do that when they know that the boss is okay with going home at 5 p.m.
It's important that they know that you're not measuring them based on how much time they spend at the office, but rather on how well they accomplish the goals set before them. VMware is a company of high-performers, but its leader knows that the best way to get people to perform well is for them to have a healthy balance between their work life, and their real life.
People who leave work knowing they can now focus on something else, whether it's a family, a hobby, or something else that recharges them, will come back the next day ready to be productive.
Your job is to help them be as productive as possible by making sure they go home.