How Satisfied Executives Spend Their Time

by David Paul Carter, MBA
Always-on communications. Growing complexity of domestic and global companies. Pressures imposed by profound economic uncertainty. These and many other components of business today add up to a feeling among executives that there are simply not enough hours in the day! A recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly looked at the allocation of what top executives spend their time on. Of the nearly 1500 executives McKinsey surveyed, only 9% were very satisfied with their allocation of time. The dissatisfied executives fell into four categories:

  • Online junky
  • Smoozer
  • Cheerleader
  • Firefighter

Do you fit any of these categories? Be honest! Now take a look at the bar chart below of the most highly satisfied executives and how they allocate their time.

Take Note – the most satisfied executives spend almost 25% of their time alone; and when it comes to preferred communication channel, spend 38% face-to-face and 72% in total synchronous communication versus just 28% asynchronous communication (email and voice mail).


So where should you focus to make real progress for your company—and yourself?

The research and experience suggests that leaders who are serious about addressing this challenge stop thinking about time management as an individual problem and start addressing it company wide. It isn’t just a personal-productivity issue; it has increasingly become an organizational issue with root causes embedded in company structures and cultures.

Start treating executive time as the finite and measurable resource it is. Leadership time too often gets treated as though it were limitless, with all good opportunities receiving high priority regardless of the leadership capacity to drive them forward.

Take two minutes to scan through the article (it’s fairly long). Then make this an action item at your next monthly leadership team meeting (you do have one don’t you?).

Contact me at 267-908-3180 to learn more.
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Based on an article in McKinsey Quarterly | January 2013 | by Frankki Bevins and Aaron De Smet.

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