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CEO Time Management and the Danger of "Struggle Porn"

CEO Time Management and the Danger of "Struggle Porn"

I’ve wagered a bet with my marketing crew that this is going to be my most read post of 2018 simply because it has the word “porn” in the title. The fact that you’ve clicked and made it this far, means you haven’t let me down… so read on, perverts!

If you’re a CEO or a C-suite executive, you’re likely accustomed to working in a time pressured environment. CEO's, more than anything else, want to know they’re optimizing their time for the greatest benefit of the company. I find they also spend an incredible amount of time and energy comparing and contrasting their success to other CEO’s, often based on inaccurate or misleading information.

Harvard Business Review recently published a series of articles around “The Leader’s Calendar,” including one called, “How CEO’s Manage Time”. I found this piece, by Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria, particularly compelling not as a basis of comparison, but because it illuminates where CEOs SHOULD spend their time. If you’re looking to increase your impact as a CEO, here are my key takeaways from this article for what to focus on:

1. Harnessing Strategy

Ensuring that every business division has a clearly defined strategic plan with measurable OKR’s/outcomes is paramount. As this article outlines, “CEOs can almost never spend enough time on strategy – they must constantly be working to shape it, refine it, communicate it, reinforce it and help people recognize when they may be drifting from it.”

2. Making Meetings Shorter and More Effective

On average CEO’s spend upwards of 72% of their time in meetings, so ensure this time is as productive as possible. If you’re looking to optimize time spent in meetings, give Cameron Herald’s book, “Meetings Suck,” a read.

3. Carving Out Alone Time

CEO's need to block out meaningful, email free, amounts of uninterrupted alone time either in or outside the office. I proactively block out time on my calendar to focus on strategic “deep thinking” work and it’s made a significant impact on my productivity.

4. Finding Time for Customers

Surprisingly most CEO’s spend very little time with their customers – less than 3%, on average. Meeting frequently with customers gives you an external view about the company’s progress, industry trends, and competitors, while reinforcing key customer relationships. Systematically schedule time to meet with your customers and ensure you’re visiting key customers face-to-face on a quarterly basis.

Lastly, I want to address “struggle porn” (aka "hustle porn"). You may not be familiar with the term, but I’m quite sure (if you spend any amount of time on social media) that you will recognize the definition...

Tweet this!

Hustle Porn - a masochistic obsession with pushing yourself
harder, listening to people tell you to work harder, and broadcasting
how hard you’re working.

Tweet this!

I find that many entrepreneurs and CEO’s, particularly new CEO’s, spend an immense amount of time and energy on social media either watching “struggle porn” or posting their own.

I’m not going to belabor the ridiculousness of this social media-fueled comparison contest of who is “struggling” the most, however, what I’m hoping you take away from this post is to avoid focusing on bad proxies for success. Or as Nat Eliason outlined in his now-viral post on Medium,

“How hard you’re working isn’t a good indicator of the value you’re creating or the progress you’re making. It’s a vanity metric: just as how many Twitter followers you have is a poor measure for the vitality of your business, the amount you’re struggling isn’t a good measure of how much you’re learning and progressing.”

There’s a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Instead of worrying about documenting your struggle on social media, focus on optimizing your personal performance by understanding how to best use the most important resource you have to drive business impact: your time.

 

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