My wife sent me a great Fast Company article on how several top tech executives manage their the overwhelming schedules. You can visit the article to read their stories, but if you want the bullets, here’s the skinny:
1. One size does not fit all. Cingular Wireless CEO Stephen Carter handles almost every incoming email in real time; Sun Microsystems EVP Marissa Peterson checks email just twice a day. When it comes to multitasking, no single solution works for everyone. Pick the tactic that’s best for you.
Doug Comments – I’m an NF, and I don’t know if this is true for all NFs but I cannot even follow the same process for extended periods. It helps me to change the way I do things every so often, or I feel like I get into a creative rut.
2. Paper piles only grow. When you get a paper report or memo, deal with it, then file it or hand it off. Piles of paper make for more work.
Doug Comments – My wife is an organizer, so I’ve heard this for almost twenty years! But I love stacks and stacks of paper and stacks and stacks of books careless thrown about on my desk. It’s not about a method for processing that info: I try to deal with stuff ASAP or flag in email so I will remember. But if I am working on a project, I need the clutter to help me create. Otherwise, I feel as blank as the desk.
3. Heading to a meeting? Go unplugged. When you meet with someone, you’re using a nonrenewable resource: your time. Don’t let cell-phone or pager interruptions waste it.
Doug Comments – Totally on board with this. I do not answer my phone when I am in conversation or meetings. The person in front of me receives top priority. The Amish have a handle on this. One reason they seem to reject technology is the destructive impact it can have on community. So a phone cannot be in the house because it will interrupt the importance of the people who are present (think: answering the phone during supper). There is one exception for me: the wife! Once we were at Walmart and I was talking with an old friend. My phone buzzed and buzzed and buzzed and buzzed, but I completely ignored it and focused on my friend. Suddenly my wife appeared. After looking for me for about twenty minutes, she was a minor bit frustrated. I learned my lesson: she takes priority!
4. The next killer business app? Instant messaging. IM is faster than email and just as inclusive. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. Think of it as the online equivalent of an elevator conversation.
Doug Comments – During the day, I work online all day: this is my contact point of choice!
5. Delegate: It’s the ultimate time-saver. Investing in frequent communications with your staff — lunch meetings, daily emails — yields big dividends. Your staff members can’t lighten your load if they’re out of the loop.
Doug Comments – Good. In my ministry world, I am trying to learn this.
6. Working in hard-to-reach territories? Voice-mail it. Voice mail is more dependable than email and better for keeping globe-trotting executives emotionally connected with the home team.
Doug Comments – If you need to talk with them, make sure to leave times and phone number, when you are available to avoid the dang phone tag wars.