Six Low to No Cost Ways to Maximize your Executive Time

Staying up to date on trends and issues in your industry is imperative to effective leadership. Setting aside time in your schedule to listen, read, and think is a great justification of #ExecutiveTime and below are a few ideas about how to maximize this time.

I get emails about free webinars all of the time and I am sure you do too. I register for them knowing full well that I will not be glued to the screen during a live webinar but counting on the fact that producers will send a link to the recorded version. The only flaw in my plan is that I never have time to listen to the archived content.

I admit that some of my favorite podcasts cover true crime and political scandals but there is a podcast on every topic. They are everywhere and accessible on almost every device and make for great listening during executive time or while trying to stay calm in traffic.

Published Articles
Reputable articles published by established leaders or associations are free and zipping across the internet. Registering for newsletters from industry associations or simply following thought leaders on LinkedIn can ensure that information is delivered to your inbox.

Conferences and Seminars
Last week, I received notification that registration for a national conference that I typically attend is now open. This year, they are offering a variety of virtual attendance options that make attendance cost effective considering many target participants work for small nonprofits. These virtual options make it possible for me to attend the keynote address and designated workshops from within the glorious white walls of my office instead of the loud and raucous convention center in New Orleans.

Of course, I would prefer to attend the conference in person but virtual options allow me to tap into the knowledge and future direction of the work for $1500 less than traditinal attendance will cost. For those of us who believe that being frugal is a virtue; the a la carte participation options provide a bonus.

It is a weird acronym for one of the best, free, development mechanisms to ever be invented. MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses are free (typically) online courses available to the public. Courses include videos, readings, and discussion forums on various topics.

The thoughts captured in e-books can be innovative, controversial, and sometimes even bizarre. In most cases, they are free in exchange for a little contact information and can challenge your thinking.

A scientific approach to job search

I find the research data interesting but don’t clearly understand why applying between the hours of 6:00-10:00 am is the magical timeframe. Perhaps I will take this approach for a month or so and report back.

Looking for a Job

The Clock Changes but Time Management Issues Stay the Same

melted-clockA few weeks ago I called a co-worker who works remotely to complain about how little time I have to actually get things done. I wanted to make sure he could focus on my complaining so I acknowledged the irony of using my time to place a call to complain about not having enough time.

Every day I work with people to set their professional goals and help them identify barriers to success and I would guess that ninety percent of the time, people name “time” as one of their biggest challenges. No one has time to spare or invest, or commit toward their goals. I have made very similar complaints during my own journey.

But, is it true? Do I and they really not have the time to do the things we say we want or need to do? A couple of tactics that I have used to answer these questions and help me feel more in control of the time that I do have are

1. Know where your time is actually going

A year ago, I developed and tested a time management chart before asking my staff members to record their activity for a week. I wanted to find out how labor intensive it actually was to document activities by the hour.  What I found was that I could better use my time in the office. I was having a number of unproductive conversations (not always initiated by me), shifting focus from one activity to another instead of following things through to completion, and spending far more time working on other people’s issues than I should have.

Now, when I am feeling stressed to my limit, I take a day or two to conduct an inventory of where my time is going. I look at my time during the work day as well as what I am doing during non-work hours. Most of the time, I find spaces that could be used to work on a specific goal of mine.

2.  Make you and your goals a priority

It is very easy to let everyone else’s priorities trump your own. In the midst of caring for and spending time with our families and friends, work, and all of the unexpected shenanigans that we can’t seem to avoid, it can seem frivolous to take the time to do something as simple as give your next professional move some real thought.

No matter how trivial or wasteful it sounds, YOU HAVE TO! Your goals have to be a priority for you and you need to make sure that anyone who cares about you knows what your priorities are.  When you list of your priorities in life or just for the day, include at least one thing that brings you closer to accomplishing one of your goals.

3.  Learn to multitask

It would be great if we could all get a six-month sabbatical (I would settle for a 72-hour break), to think, research, and actually work on a goal that I set. Alas, it ain’t going to happen. I can make use of the time that I have. For instance, I am typically alone in the kitchen when I am cooking. Once I have prepped everything and put the food on the stove, I have at least 15-30 minutes to focus. That is my time to finish a self-assessment, update my resume, or work on my LinkedIn profile.

Don’t categorize your activities so tightly that you don’t use all of your time wisely. When children are doing their homework, do your homework. Work on that goal. When you are supporting your kids or family members at their game, instead of Instagramming, Facebooking, or whatever activity you are doing to pass the time; work on that goal.

Finally, be very mindful of where you put your time and energy. Are you focusing on the “right” things? Does it matter to you and your end goal? If you are spending a lot of time on irrelevant things, recalibrate immediately.  Make every moment you actually have count toward what you have decided matters.