Every CEO has a busy schedule and wants to have either more time a day or a super assistant. Without either? My mentor advises me to start early and write up a to-do list before everyone else enters the office. Sometimes this works perfectly. A lot more times, the list becomes so long that stress builds up and kill my day.
One of the things I have started learning recently is to restrict myself to have 3 things in mind every day. Don’t get me wrong. This does not mean I only do 3 tasks, but 3 major groups of stuff that I should be caring of in mind. This helps me judge what I should or should not do. To be precise, this approach helps me to say no to a lot of things that either do not fall into any categories of these 3 things or may have negative impacts in accomplishing them.
So what are these three things?
1. Delegate my to-do list
Before, like many others, I sometimes did not feel like what I should do as there appeared so many things that were of high priority. The situation became worse when there were ad hoc stuff coming up, ad hoc phone calls, ad hoc problems to solve, etc. It was so hard to focus with such distractions. Now, I delegate my to-do list to my executive assistant, and sit down with her every week to plan out together the priorities and ensure there are some spare time as contingency. When I have new ideas and something I want to do, I ask my assistant to have it included on my to-do list. For the rest of the time, I can just sit back and let my assistant advise me what I should do in a given time. I can devote totally myself on the tasks themselves without worrying what to do next by when. How wonderful the peace of mind this is giving me!
2. Forget my calendar
Everyday, I receive on average 10 appointment invitations. The time spans range from like this afternoon to some time next year. Some invitations come with fixed date, time and venue. A lot more of them are tentative, subject to changes. It takes up a lot of time and human memory to handle. Some friends of mine use 2 monitors at their workspace. One for working, the other for calendar showing meetings and appointments. Some use laptop computers and tablets. I tried similar approaches, too. In any case, the idea is to make it easier to manage the schedule. Some lucky ones rely on their very smart assistant to check the calendar and advise their availability. I found this approach still demanding me to make, not necessarily at the right moment, the judgement and decision. What I do now instead is to totally forget my calendar, and rely completely on my assistant to manage it. Of course, my assistant and I have common understandings on how to handle and prioritise. So, I do not need an extra monitor to show calendar, and I am not interrupted to think about whether I should or am available to attend an appointment when I am working very hard on something that I am paid to do to grow the company.
3. Create Time for Myself
When I first brought up this idea to my assistant, she was very surprised on what she had heard. She asked whether this would create time for her too! I explained to her how important it was to me to bring myself joyfulness from work. Yes, I know, I work when I work. But how many times I had new initiatives that I would like to move forward but had to stop due to absence of time! If I were to have more time, I could have done that. Creating extra time for myself makes me happy! Of course, if I can squeeze a few hours to enjoy music and sunshine by the pool or beach, that would be perfect!
Of these three things, after all, I am still in the process of learning to live with them. While I find a lot of fine-tuning essential, I trust there will be many interesting stories down the road. Would love to share with you here when time comes. Have a happy day!