One of the biggest requests we have from the C-Suite is “how can I work more manageable hours?”  The higher up you are in an organization the more people want a piece of you, the more you have people globally and the more pressure there is to get things handled promptly.

All of these pressures can, at first, seem to be solved by putting in a little big of extra time in the morning or evening that is your time.  But eventually that time creeps and creeps and before you know it Johnny is out of diapers and off to college and you missed it all.

So how do you manage to keep your hours sane?

There are three things you need to do and I will tell you that almost every CEO I work with says, “oh I can’t do that” and then three months later they are loving life as they find it is possible to get their hours down to a more manageable time.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  I say “no one can encroach on your time without your consent.”  The first thing you have to realize is that this is 100% within your control.

1. Set clear boundaries.  You have to know the hours you will start and stop work.  Abide by them and only break them on select occasions.  If people know you are available at all hours they will take advantage of that and come to you when it is convenient for them rather than thinking through strategically how to handle situations.

2. Clear private non-interruption time 3-5 five times a week for you to work strategically on projects.  This “forward” thinking time will keep your brain relaxed and you will get far more done then if you “patch” your projects in between meetings.

3. Establish with your direct reports clear times you will and won’t be available for meetings.  You will be surprised by how much they can handle without you involved.

4. When people meet with you make sure in the first 5 minutes you know what they want to accomplish and what they see your role in the discussion being.  Right away you will see who has done their homework and who is filling time.

I always recommend you get a one hour block of time daily that is yours alone.  At your level, what you will crank out in one hour can keep your team busy for a week.  The more you are able to work in the future, the better you will be at leading.

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