Time is precious. It’s maybe the most precious resource. Once lost, it’s never regained. Moms of children know this all too well. CEOs, regardless of their company’s size, recognize the value of time. Today’s competitive pressures force CEOs to squeeze the most out of shorter and shorter time segments, those brief-fleeting moments in-between interruptions.
I served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited for nearly 7 years. Time, in particular uninterrupted time, was precious. With it, I accomplished great things. Without it … well, it wasn’t pretty.
I want to share with you the resources I found over those 7 years that gave me greater amounts of uninterrupted time. Some of them I implemented within the company. As time in a small business, in a rapidly changing business is precious for everyone.
- BASECAMP. It’s a wiki product offered and hosted by 37signals. First, what’s a wiki? According to Wikipedia (For this word, who else?), a wiki is a “collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language.
I’d add it’s a one-stop resource for your projects, the to-do’s and timelines with each project, a place to document your meeting notes and expectations that arise from them. It’s a repository of resources and ideas and your own private brainstorming sessions. You add content to those ideas that progress. You delete those crushed by reality.
There are many wiki products. I chose Basecamp because it’s affordable (start with free), easy to use (key for both you as the CEO and your company), its features are constantly upgraded without interrupting my use, and 37signals, the company behind it, offer a host of complimentary services that integrate with Basecamp. It saved us hours of time and frustration, minimized disputes by documenting the conversations, encouraged accountability AND participation, rewarded everyone’s engagement with an easy means to participate in an open, transparent manner. I continue to use it today.
- BIT LITERACY. This is a book, a methodology, for being literate in handling the bits of data that can overwhelm a CEO. It’s author is Mark Hurst. It’s been a huge boon for eliminating the incessant distractions from emails. And it’s let me take control of my time as opposed to having email control my time. It’s easy to implement and manage every day. And it’s freed up, I’d estimate, one hour a day from interruptions from email.
- IM or CHAT. This is another time-freeing resource. It’s faster, more immediate, than email. It’s less-interruptive than a phone call or in-person meeting to take care of those quick points or questions through the day. I implemented IM, instant messaging, or chat, within our company. We used Skype. It keeps a history of your chats, too. Documentation. Always good to have.
- PEER to PEER BOARDS. It’s lonely at the top. Who can you turn to for advice, for solutions, for insight (criticisms, too) and for support? Well, a group of your peers is a great start. PeerSight Online offers a confidential 2-hour conference call every 3 weeks with your peer CEOs. I found it invaluable for delivering incremental solutions, on a timely basis, as the company the grew and changed. The networking and support were invaluable.
- JOTT. Ideas and reminders don’t always arrive with your pen/keyboard poised for dictation. But JOTT offers a way to capture those ideas or reminders with your cellphone. You call a number where you dictate your message. It’s transcribed and delivered to your email … almost immediately. You can use it for reminders with yourself, your team, your family … your soccer team. Invaluable. I’ve used it when I’m running, driving, standing in-line, at the airport, at home, walking the dog, shopping. Oh. It’s FREE.
- RSS FEEDS. Keep up with news and trends is a key component of your job as CEO. Now you can monitor all the news from all the sources you find valuable with a RSS reader. RSS stands for real simple syndication. The readers, the application, delivers the news to your door from your desired publications, blogs, podcasts, videocasts. You can scan the headlines and read any post further. This site has a RSS feed. RSS readers can be found at Newsgator, Bloglines, Google, MSN, Yahoo … lots more. I use Newsgator.
- BLOGS. You should have a blog for your company and you as CEO. Why? It’s the ultimate online networking resource. It’s the ultimate differentiator for your marketing message. Write your own blog, in your words, with your message. It’s easy and immediate to write and publish. Its impact builds over time. And you can save the cost of a web designer with a standard blog template and text from you and your employees. I use Typepad. I blog at http://zanesafrit.typepad.com and http://life.ducttapemarketing.com. Blogging is how Anita Campbell and I met. ‘Nuff said.
This is my list. You have others. Let’s help each other. Share them here. We’ll build the ultimate list of Time-Generating Resources for CEOs.
Each month I’ll share more tips and perspectives From The Trenches: building operational excellence and a sustainable business.
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About the Author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations’ excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit.