18 time hacks for busy leaders to recoup three to five hours a week

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Time management is a critical skill for business leaders who often have to juggle multiple responsibilities and obligations. Finding effective strategies to maximize productivity and reclaim more time is essential for leaders.

As experts, the members of gotechbusiness.com Business Council have extensive experience devising ways to increase productivity, save time and make the most of their limited availability. Below, 18 of them offer valuable techniques that can help busy leaders reclaim three to five hours a week and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Contents

1. Focus on the why, what and how

Focus and prioritize tasks that are critical to the “why” of your business. Collaborate and contribute to the “what”. Remove and delegate the “how” as much as you can! – Thomas Serrano, exclamation group

2. Make incremental changes

Incremental changes can help create a positive impact. For example, it can be helpful to wake up 30 minutes earlier each day to segment desires into a time block catalog. Time-blocking or cataloging where time is spent adjusting results is a revelation that can save time for delegation and prioritization. – Paul L. Gunn, Jr., KUG Corporation


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3. Find time to let your mind wander

Create what I call “mind-meandering hours” in the schedule. Senior leaders always move from task to task and from decision to decision. To make complex decisions and come up with out-of-the-box solutions to a problem, the mind must be clear and free. This only happens if you let it wander off without any interruption or agenda. I’ve seen some of my best decisions and insights happen during these winding hours. – Xavier Prabhu, PRUB

4. Use calendars to schedule meeting times accordingly

Attend or schedule only meetings with agendas and make sure to schedule an appropriate meeting duration based on the agenda. Often people choose a meeting of 30 or 60 minutes as standard when a shorter meeting would be more suitable. End the meeting when the meeting agenda is over. If you want to chat, schedule coffee chats. – Shavonnah Schreiber, SNR Creative

5. Give up 80% of your time

The fastest way to become super efficient is to challenge yourself to free up 80% of your time. When we do this, we force ourselves to be ruthless with our time. We are usually amazed at what we can really delegate and what is a totally inefficient use of time. – Marianne Evans, Raise BC Ltd

6. Hire an assistant

I had an assistant take over my schedule. I was so afraid to let it go, but I found it to be so liberating! I love waking up and knowing I already have a productive day ahead of me. I am now teaching my assistant to manage my email inbox. I’m terrified of giving up, but I look forward to the time when I have just a handful of emails to answer at the start of my work day. – Angie Noll, Reconciled solutions

7. Encourage pre-reads prior to meetings

To get the most out of meetings and reduce the time spent on them, we encourage pre-reads. This ensures that everyone is grounded with critical information for the meeting. This way, meetings can start with any clarifications and then dive deep into a rich discussion. It saves a lot of time upfront and makes meetings more fruitful. If we don’t do this effectively, we feel the impact. – Lee Rothschild, Packed with a purpose

8. Create empty calendar days

Have a day when you don’t get a call. Set your calendar so that no one can reserve time for you on this day, and the people on your team should know that this is the day you don’t want to be disturbed. You will have the opportunity to be more creative and will have the opportunity to work on other projects. This day is Friday for me and is now known as “No Call Friday”. It always feels like my most productive day. – Liam Pingree, Neuronic

9. Concentrate on work related to your position

Focus on what matters most to your role and let your team do the rest. Delegate tasks that are not essential or strategic. Trust your team and empower them to make decisions – your people will rise to the challenge and step forward if given the right leadership and direction. – Daniel Farar, Assembly software

10. Streamline your day

Plan your day and block out time for strategic thinking. Improving a day’s work or a week’s worth will probably keep you busy, but it won’t take you to the next level. Replace some meetings with Loom videos to save time. Also read your emails in batches as it has the same impact. – Marianella Manzur, Joorney Business Plans

11. Prioritize alignment and focus

Good time management is about alignment and focus, which can be represented using objectives and key results (OKRs) as an example. That’s why the time hack is to look at your work day, see what tasks fall outside of those OKRs and cut them out of the work schedule, especially for meetings. It takes some mental effort to do this. – Oleksandra Rostovtseva, Altamira

12. Focus on essential tasks and meetings

There’s no secret sauce, as we all work differently, but overall increasing your productivity works with this proven strategy: only attend essential meetings. Reduce meeting times to 30 minutes or less and prioritize meeting results for success. Skip non-essential meet and greets. Stay connected on the phone for fast action. Do not procrastinate tasks, because procrastination hinders progress! – Ali El Husseini, Land administration of the Medici

13. Delegate responsibilities

Delegate. The most common mistake leaders make is trying to do everything themselves because they think they can do it better. This is not scalable. You must learn to delegate responsibilities to others and demand quality. – Jay Rawat, Zinrelo

14. Block out time during the day

Sometimes making time saves time. I’ve been blocking 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 5 pm in my calendar for years. Morning time is thinking time where I read and research where we need to take our business. My coach says: “You can’t do more for your company, you can only think more.” Afternoon time is for the end of the day to clean up and debrief. Because of this ritual I usually don’t have to work at night and/or on weekends. – Misty Dijkema, Simante

15. Make your environment reflective of your work

Assign specific contexts to different tasks and allocate most of your time to creative and strategic work. For creative work, position yourself in a creative physical space with limited or no distractions. For strategic work, identify the combination of people or resources you need and make sure the environment has enough stimulation to keep your energy flowing. – DeEtta Jones, DeEtta Jones and associates

16. Eliminate procrastinating tasks first

Start your week, and every day, with the tasks most likely to fuel the procrastination pitfall. You’d be surprised how busy we fool ourselves when we put forward something annoying or unpleasant. You gain time and train yourself to eliminate procrastination. – Michael Paiva, The financial therapist

17. Use useful tools

Use productivity and automation tools. Also identify tasks that can be entrusted to skilled team members and empower them to take responsibility. Delegate tasks that match their strengths and provide clear instructions and expectations. This not only eases your workload, but also develops team members’ skills and promotes collaboration. – Myrtle Anne Ramos, Block tides

18. Multitask during Power Hours

I use power hours almost daily and combine many tasks to work in parallel. I could take my daughter to her figure skating practice and book a face-to-face meeting at a location where we can train in sports and meet each other at the same time. On the way home I do the shopping and listen to an audio book. There are many combinations for power hours. It is about having two to three parallel activities carried out at the same time. – Aslak de Silva, Shop yourself