Post by Sheena McKinney, Executive Assistant to President, Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing

According to Fearless Selling’s article 10 Things Sales People Need to Know About C-Level Decision Makers, Kelley Robertson says chief exces have “…at least 40 hours of work on their desk at any given time and upwards of 150 emails every day.”  For some execs these might be understatements.

To live the suite life at C-Level, excellent time management is a must, even with the very best support team.  So how do they do it, really?  It’s not chiefly one thing of course, but as part of our “How I Work” Series, when we asked top leaders “What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?” we got some great answers– things you can use to save time no matter how many emails you get every day.  Below are the Chiefs’ life hacks…. to see all the answers from all the top leaders (chief of not) click here.

Liz Pearce, CEO – LiquidPlanner:  Saying no to things that aren’t mission critical. How do you keep track of your busy life? For little things I need to do in the next 24 hours: paper and pencil. For bigger things I need to do in the next 12 weeks: in LiquidPlanner. For long-term projects or goals: in a journal.

Allen Gannett, CEO – TrackMaven:  I don’t fold my socks.

Chris Brogram, CEO – Owner Media Group I don’t worry much about saving time. I schedule my day to 40%. That means I work on the work that matters most to me.

Kyle Porter, CEO – Salesloft:  Daily twitter email alerts – twitter is noisy, and you’ll waste a lot of time trying to keep up with your stream of content. We built a free service, to auto connect twitter to salesforce and send daily alerts on my most important CRM contacts.

Lori Richardson, CEO – Score More Sales:  On Monday I go through the major goals with our team, and on Friday we review. It helps keep us in focus so we don’t waste time working on the wrong things.

Greg Alexander, CEO – Sales Benchmark Index:  Listening to podcasts.  I used to spend 2-3 hours reading every day.  Now I spend 2-3 hours listening every day. This turns unproductive time, i.e. commuting, working out, standing in line, etc. into productive time.

Mike Damphousse, CEO/CMO – Green Leads:  Don’t start the day behind the 8 ball. I schedule my mornings to myself. Every morning is mine. First thing I do is clean out the inbox and Mailbox lets me organize it to meet my schedule, not the schedule of the sender. Then I’m looking at a clean slate for the day and I control how it goes. My second hack is when it’s after hours, I either respond to an email immediately, or I use Mailbox to push it to a designated time…I don’t think about it until that time. It keeps me clean to focus on what I want to focus on.

Craig Elias, Chief Catalyst – SHIFT Selling Inc.:  I get up between 4:30 and 5:30 every day of the week and get a few hours or work done before I have any interruptions. To make that happen I’m usually in bed by 9:30 and I watch no more than 90 minutes of TV a week.

Tony Jaros, Chief Research Officer – SiriusDecisions:  Keep your email inbox as clean as you can; I always recoil in horror when I see others with thousands of emails in their inboxes. Once you let yourself get too far behind, there’s no catching up.

Brian Kardon, CMO – Lattice Engines:  1. Get your brain doing different kinds of activities. 2. Tennis.  Lots of tennis.  3. Work with people you really enjoy and respect. 4. Play music in a band

Scott Vaughan, CMO – Integrate:  A few things for me, blocking and tackling-type stuff:  1-touch email protocol  Always have a meeting agenda with discussion points (included in invite) to get to the point (or likely no need for meeting)  Set up meeting/next steps before I leave a meeting/conversation, eliminates steps

Mike Volpe, CMO – Hubspot:  Force yourself to have one day a week with no meetings.  It is far too easy to get caught up in the flow of everyone else’s projects and have a calendar full of meetings allowing little time for everything else you need to do.  For me, having one day a week to clear my head, dig out from my inbox and then think about how to strategically drive our team toward the things I think are most important is really valuable.

Amy Bohutinsky, CMO – Zillow:  Being married to a professional chef. He does all the grocery shopping and cooking. He’s also really particular about the kitchen, so he does most of the clean-up there, too. I’d highly recommend finding this in a partner.

Liz Sophia (McClellan), CMO – North Plains Systems:  Starting my work day at 4:30am.  It allows me to get a jump start on the day before my kids wake up and provide better support to my European colleagues. Also, I will do exercises when I’m on conference calls (when possible). My office has kettlebells, weights and a jump rope right next to my desk. I don’t have any excuses for not fitting in exercise. Exercise clears my head and keeps me grounded.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, CEO – Littlebird:    I get a lot of push notifications, any updates at all from the right sources (people, websites, search queries), which has enabled me to act fast on all kinds of things, for years.  I’ve basically built my career from tweets and push notifications.  I also really like custom search engines, or searches inside a pre-defined set of topical sources.

Jonathan Farrington, CEO – Top Sales World:  Delegation: I have a fantastic small team, who between them cover all the bases, and as a consequence we outsource nothing at all. For the past 7 years, I have divided my time more or less equally between my consultancy – JFA – and the Top Sales World project, which just keeps growing and developing. However, I have slowly been reducing my consultancy assignments and planning some brand new projects, which I will begin work on in 2015, with a few good chums! Top Sales World will have a new CEO in place, by the start of next year, freeing me to move upstairs and take a less hands-on role as Chairman. I will still have full responsibility for special events, such as the conferences, Awards, Academy, etc. and I will also manage the Partner/Sponsor relationships. My passion – apart from my work, which actually is a mission – is sport. I need to draw a differentiation between fitness fanatics/snobs, and sport. I play sport for fun, I love it, and it just so happens to keep me fit. I don’t need ludicrous gadgets strapped to my body to tell me how fast my heart is beating or how far I have walked, or even how many calories I have burned that day . I know my own body, we have been close for more than sixty years! And if my body has a lapse of concentration, even momentarily, and fails to alert me, my GP will no doubt flag it up when we get together annually to celebrate my incredible fitness J Finally, I must add that I think fitness is a personal matter – rather like religion -– and we each understand what we need to do if we wish to live longer with sustained good health. Idiots claiming to bench-press the equivalent of five trucks, or people who claim to cycle miles and miles during their lunch hours, really do have a problem.

Robert Pease, CMO Practice Lead – Heinz Marketing, Inc.:  Don’t ask or answer open ended questions in email like “How did it go?”  I rarely participate in lengthy email threads among many people.  If it gets to that point, get on the phone.  If it isn’t phone worthy, it isn’t worth spending time on.

Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer – HubSpot Sales Division: See Mark’s lengthy-but-worth-the read answer here.

You may not be able to score a professional chef for a partner as Amy did, but we can all learn from these leaders living and working at C-level.  What are some of your life hacks?