• March 25, 2023

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Whether you lead a bustling startup or an established business, as a CEO, your days are likely full of endless meetings, questions from leadership or staff, “fires” that need putting out and very little time to get any actual work done. Without an intentional plan or schedule, your day can get away from you, allowing your work—and your stress—to build up over time.

But adding a little structure to your workday doesn’t have to be complicated. Below, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council speak to their own experience as business leaders, each recommending one way CEOs can build structure into their workday to help them maximize their productivity and why this is so critical to do.

1. Start Your Day With Your Most Dreaded Task

Make the thing you’re dreading the most the very first thing you do. Get it out of the way when you are at the peak of your energy and freshness for the day. Odds are you’re dreading it because it is difficult but important. An example might be preparing for tax season. It will be dull, tedious and devoid of creativity, but it is absolutely crucial to the future of you and everyone else in the company. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

2. Group Similar Activities Together

One productivity tip I swear by is time blocking. I’m a CEO of a startup, so if I’m not careful, I could spend my day jumping between projects and tasks without time to actually get anything done. I find time blocking to be extremely helpful, and it enables me to group like activities together so I don’t lose time reorienting myself again. For example, whenever possible I will set aside the afternoon for meetings. This gives me the morning to get busy work done, and then once I’m finished with my meetings in the afternoon, I have time to digest the conversations and come up with action points for the next day. – Diana Goodwin, MarketBox

3. Determine Up To Three High-Priority Tasks For The Day

Without some structure, my day could easily become consumed by replying to Slack messages, checking Trello notifications, answering emails, attending meetings and the like. In fact, when I don’t structure my days ahead of time, this ends up being what my day looks like, and I find myself having to work when I get home. I build structure into my workday by having one to three high-priority tasks in mind that I want to accomplish each day. I give myself a range of one to three because I never know what will come up during the day. As a CEO, you often feel like there are so many things to do and never enough time, so I’m gracious with myself. If I’m feeling productive, I can get all three tasks done. If not, one task will suffice. At the very least, I know that I accomplished something. – Simon Bacher, Ling App

4. Take An Actual Lunch Break

Do lunch with another person and not as a solo meal. CEOs at in-person offices can meet with management in the break room or a communal area for a 30-minute lunch. The other person can be a manager, a co-worker or even a family member if you’re working at home. Clock back in as soon as you are done, but set a time to enjoy a meal. Setting boundaries is important, but a lunch date affirms a commitment where you take some time to recharge and stretch. A recharge will mitigate potential burnout, and you also get the chance to spend time with someone you would otherwise miss during a standard workday. You can then get back to work with more energy. – Duran Inci, Optimum7


5. Leverage Modular Routines

Every CEO’s workday is going to be different based on their unique needs and schedule. However, one way a CEO can build structure into their workday to help them maximize their productivity is by creating a daily schedule using modular routines. We all know the value of using a set routine. It can help you get into “work mode” and help you focus on the tasks at hand. But schedules with lots of variation can make this a challenge. So, I like to use what I call modular routines. These are set time blocks for core tasks. For example, I set a one-hour block of time to catch up on my VIP emails. This can be at various times, but it’s always a daily to-do. I simply drag the item around to where it makes the most sense that day. – Richard Fong, Trustable Tech

6. Schedule Time For Thinking And Brainstorming

One fun way a CEO can build structure into their workday to help them maximize their productivity is to set aside dedicated time for creative brainstorming. This could be done by scheduling 30 minutes each day for uninterrupted thinking and idea generation. This is critical to do because it allows the CEO to step away from their normal day-to-day tasks and focus on longer-term strategy and vision. It also helps to keep the CEO motivated and inspired while providing a much-needed break from the rigors of daily work. From my own experience, I find that taking the time to step back and think more creatively leads to more efficient and effective decision-making, which in turn leads to greater productivity. – Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

7. Split Your Day Into Productive Intervals

A CEO can create structure in their workday by using the Pomodoro technique. It’s a technique that enables you to split your workday into short, productive intervals. Each interval lasts 30 minutes. You work for 25 minutes straight and take a quick 5-minute break after. This is one of the best ways to maximize productivity because the activity window is so small that there’s literally no room for distractions. I personally use this technique, and each session feels like an accomplishment as you are a step closer to completing the task at hand. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

8. Organize Your To-Do List By Impact

Prioritize projects based on their overall impact to the company. This ensures you maximize ROI based on time and effort spent. It’s easier to move the needle this way without getting weighed down and overwhelmed by dozens of small tasks that may eat away at your limited hours each day. If you’re able to drive additional revenue, cost savings or efficiency, then you’re able to recruit additional help to take over some of your low-impact but time-consuming tasks. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress

9. Allot Only A Certain Amount Of Time Per Task

I find that having set time allotments for my tasks helps build and maintain workday structure. I move on to the next task even if I don’t finish something in the time allotted and then allow for extra time at the end of the day to go back and wrap up. This system keeps my day flowing and helps increase productivity. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure


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