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Harvard Business Review (HBR) OnPoint – Winter 2018

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The Harvard Business Review (HBR)
OnPoint Magazine – Winter 2018

“A CEO’s schedule (indeed, any leader’s schedule), then,
is a manifestation of how the leader leads and sends powerful
messages to the rest of the organization.”

WHERE TO START
10 A Practical Plan for When You Feel Overwhelmed – Peter Bregman
11 How to Allocate Your Time, and Your Effort – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

14 Make Time for the Work That Matters – Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen
More hours in the day. It’s one thing everyone wants, and yet it’s impossible to attain. But what if you could free up significant time—maybe as much as 20% of your workday—to focus on the responsibilities that really matter? The authors have spent the past three years studying the productivity of knowledge workers and discovered that they spend, on average, 41% of their time on activities that offer little personal satisfaction and could be handled competently by others.
On the basis of their research, the authors have come up with a process to help knowledge workers make themselves more productive. It involves thinking consciously about how they spend their time, deciding which tasks matter most to them and their organizations, and dropping or creatively outsourcing the rest.
The tasks to be dropped are sorted into quick kills (things you can stop doing now, without any negative effects), off-load opportunities (work that can be delegated with minimal effort), and long-term redesign (work that needs to be reconceived or restructured). Once the tasks are disposed of, the freed-up time is spent focusing on more-important work.
When 15 executives tried this, they were able to reduce desk work by an average of six hours per week and meetings by two hours per week. They filled the time with value-added tasks like coaching and strategizing.
This article also includes a useful self- assessment for evaluating tasks.

A PRACTICAL PLAN
20 Are You Spending Your Time the Right Way? – Melissa Raffoni
22 Track Your Time for 30 Days: What You Learn Might Surprise You – Dorie Clark
24 How to Prioritize Your Work When Your Manager Doesn’t – Amy Jen Su
26 To Be a Great Leader, Learn How to Delegate Well – Jesse Sostrin
28 HBR’s Best on Saying No to More Work – Amy Gallo

30 Conquering Digital Distraction – Larry Rosen and Alexandra Samuel
Many people today regard their computers, tablets, and smartphones as indispensable, both professionally and personally. But they can also be dangerous: Research shows that spending too much time on e-mail and social media reduces your productivity and engagement at home and at work.
So how can you avoid digital overload? In this article, two experts offer dramatically differ-
ent strategies. Larry Rosen, a psychologist, advocates pulling away from technology in order to refocus. His advice: Limit the time you spend with your devices, using behavioural techniques to gradually wean yourself away; when you are using technology, take periodic breaks to exercise, meditate, or otherwise recharge; and avoid on-screen activities before bedtime, to ensure that you get proper rest.
Alexandra Samuel, a pioneer in electronic engagement, recommends the opposite tack: Embrace technology and make smarter use of digital tools to manage information overload. She suggests filtering your e-mail and using
a newsreader app to customize the stream of articles and blog items you receive. You can also automate your postings to social networks.
The authors’ approaches needn’t be mutually exclusive. Indeed, combining them may be the best way to combat digital distraction.

36 Collaboration Without Burnout – Rob Cross, Scott Taylor, and Deb Zehner
As organizations become more global, matrixed, and complex, they are requiring employees to collaborate with more internal colleagues and external contacts than ever before. According to research, most managers now spend 85% or more of their work time on e-mail, in meetings, and on the phone. And although greater collaboration has benefits, it also leaves significantly less time for focused individual work, careful reflection, and sound decision making.
Organizational solutions are, of course, necessary to eradicate collaborative overload across the board. But research shows that with some strategic self-management, individuals can also tackle the problem on their own, clawing back 18% to 24% of their collaborative time.
The first step is to understand why you take
on too much work for and with others; this often involves challenging your identity as a “helper,” a “team player,” or a “star performer.” Next, figure out how you add—and from where you derive—the most value and eliminate any collaborations that distract from that work. Last, ensure that the collaboration you continue with is as productive as possible.

42 Reclaim Your Commute – Francesca Gino et al.
Every day, millions of people around the world face long commutes to work. In the United States alone, approximately 25 million workers spend more than 90 minutes each day getting to and from their jobs. And yet few people enjoy their commutes.
This distaste for commuting has serious implications for well-being. Studies have found that workers with lengthy commutes feel more anxious and less happy and satisfied with life than those with shorter ones and are more likely to get divorced. They also are less likely to find their daily activities worthwhile, are more exhausted and less productive at work, and have lower job satisfaction.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Research (including studies by the authors) suggests that small tweaks to the way you conduct your commute can improve the experience, leaving you both happier and more productive. They offer five strategies that commuters can try: Use the time to shift your mindset; prepare to be productive; find your “pocket of freedom”; share the spirit; and reduce your commute.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE
48 Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life – Stewart D. Friedman

Work fills most executives’ lives to the brim, leaving insufficient time for their families, their communities, and themselves. But Wharton professor Friedman suggests that, rather than view the problem as a set of trade-offs, executives use their leadership talents to benefit all four domains at once. The idea is to design experiments—small, short-term adjustments to their daily routines— that incorporate and mutually benefit the various aspects of their lives. If an experiment works out, everyone wins—employer, employee, family, and community; if it doesn’t, it simply becomes a low-cost learning opportunity. Over time, the combination of small gains and lessons learned can lead to larger-scale transformation.
The “Total Leadership” process involves identifying what’s important to you, identifying what’s important to everyone in your life, using those insights to creatively explore possibilities for experiments, and then selecting and implementing a few at a time. Drawing on decades of experience, Friedman has distilled nine categories of experiments that offer a manageable, systematic approach to the daunting task of conceiving projects with four-way benefits.
In one such experiment, an executive might raise money for a charity her company sponsors by running a marathon with her son, thus simultaneously gaining greater visibility at work, spending more time with her family, giving back to the community, and improving her health. To move toward the goal of becoming a CEO, another executive might join the board of a nonprofit agency in his neighbourhood together with his wife.
Friedman suspects that there are far more opportunities for simultaneous benefits than people realize. They are there for the taking. You just have to know how to look for them and then find the support and courage to pursue them.

58 What to Do When Personal and Professional Commitments Compete for Your Time Elizabeth – Grace Saunders
59 Making Time for Networking as a Working Parent – David Burkus

THE HABITS OF CEOs AND GENIUSES
62 How CEOs Manage Time – Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria

In 2006, Harvard Business School’s Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria launched a study tracking how large companies’ CEOs spent their time, 24/7, for 13 weeks: where they were, with whom, what they did, and what they were focusing on.
To date Porter and Nohria have gathered 60,000 hours’ worth of data on 27 executives, interviewing them—and hundreds of other CEOs—about their schedules. This article presents the findings, offering insights not only into best time-management practices but into the CEO’s role itself. CEOs need to learn to simultaneously manage the seemingly contradictory dualities of the job: integrating direct decision making with indirect levers like strategy and culture, balancing internal and external constituencies, proactively pursuing an agenda while reacting to unfolding events, exercising leverage while being mindful of constraints, focusing on the tangible impact of actions while recognizing their symbolic significance, and combining formal power with legitimacy.

78 One CEO’s Approach to Managing His Calendar – An Interview with Tom Gentile
86 The Daily Routines of Geniuses – Sarah Green Carmichael

MANAGING AN ORGANIZATION’S TIME
96 Your Scarcest Resource – Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm, and Greg Caimi

Most companies have elaborate procedures for managing capital. They require a compelling business case for any new capital investment. They set hurdle rates. They delegate authority carefully, prescribing spending limits for each level. An organization’s time, by contrast, goes largely unmanaged.
Bain & Company, with which all three authors are associated, used innovative people analytics tools to examine the time budgets of 17 large corporations. It discovered that companies are awash in e-communications; meeting time has skyrocketed; real collaboration is limited; dysfunctional meeting behaviour is on the rise; formal controls are rare; and the consequences of all this are few. The authors outline eight practices for managing organizational time. Among them are: Make meeting agendas clear and selective; create a zero-based time budget; require business cases for all initiatives; and standardize the decision process.
Some forward-thinking companies bring as much discipline to their time budgets as to their capital budgets. As a result, they have liberated countless hours of previously unproductive time for executives and employees, fueling innovation and accelerating profitable growth.

104 Stop the Meeting Madness – Leslie A. Perlow, Constance Noonan Hadley, and Eunice Eun
Many executives feel overwhelmed by meetings, and no wonder: On average, they spend nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. What’s more, the meetings are often poorly timed, badly run, or both.
We can all joke about how painful they are, say the authors, but that pain has real consequences for teams and organizations. Every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into solo work that’s essential for creativity and efficiency. Chopped- up schedules interrupt deep thinking, so people come to work early, stay late, or use weekends
for quiet time to concentrate. And dysfunctional meeting behaviours are associated with lower levels of market share, innovation, and employment stability.
The authors have found that real improvement requires systemic change, not discrete fixes. They describe a five-step process for that—along with the diagnostic work you’ll need to do in advance.

112 The Over-committed Organization – Mark Mortensen and Heidi K. Gardner
By assigning people to multiple teams at once, organizations can make more efficient use of time and brainpower and do a better job of solving complex problems and sharing knowledge across groups. But competing priorities and other conflicts can make it hard for teams with overlapping membership to stay on track. Group cohesion often suffers, and people serving on several teams concurrently may experience burnout.
Through extensive research and consulting, the authors have identified several ways that both team and organizational leaders can reduce the costs of multi-teaming and better capitalize on its advantages. Team leaders should launch the team well to establish trust and familiarity, map every member’s skills, carefully manage time across teams, and boost motivation by emphasizing opportunities to learn. Organizational leaders should focus on mapping and analyzing patterns of team overlap, promoting knowledge flows among teams, and buffering teams against shocks.
All this represents a significant investment of time and effort. But organizations pay a much higher price when they neglect the costs of multi- teaming in hot pursuit of its benefits.

122 Collaborative Overload – Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant
Collaboration is taking over the workplaAccordingding to data collected by the authors over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more. There is much to applaud about these developments—but when consumption of a valuable resource spikes that dramatically, it should also give us pause.
At many companies, people spend around 80% of their time in meetings or answering colleagues’ requests, leaving little time for all the critical work they must complete on their own. What’s more, research the authors have done across more than 300 organizations shows that the apportionment of collaborative work is often extremely lopsided. In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees. The avalanche of demands for input or advice, access to resources, or sometimes just presence in a meeting causes performance to suffer. Employees take assignments home, and soon burn-out and turnover become real risks.
Leaders must start to manage collaboration more effectively in two ways:
(1) by mapping the supply and demand in their organizations and redistributing the work more evenly among employees, and
(2) by incentivizing people to collaborate more efficiently.

HOW TO FEEL LESS BUSY
88 You’ll Feel Less Rushed If You Give Time Away – An Interview with Cassie Mogilner

There are only so many hours in the day, or so it seems. Most of us spend our time feeling too busy, too rushed, and unable to add one more thing to our schedules—especially on a voluntary basis. But research by Wharton’s Cassie Mogilner and her colleagues finds that just the opposite is true: Giving away your time makes you feel as if you have more of it and can even make you feel more productive.
For example, in several experiments, subjects were asked to volunteer their time in a variety of ways, from writing notes to sick children, to help- ing at-risk students edit a paper, to devoting time to helping others on the weekend. What Mogilner and team found was that those who helped others consistently felt as if they had more time in their day than those who didn’t help others or spent the same amount of time on themselves. Those who gave their time to others felt more capable, confident, and useful. What’s more, the results were the same whether people devoted 10 minutes or 30 minutes to helping others.
We can also feel more time abundant, Mogilner says, simply by thinking about time. Making an effort to stay in the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or the future, can make us feel less rushed because it slows down the way we perceive the passage of time. Slowing down our breathing can help with this, too.
The bottom line?
Giving away our time—and staying in the moment—helps us feel that we have more time to give.

90 How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy – Hugh McGuire
92 Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure – Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan
94 The Lie That Perfectionists Tell Themselves – Matt Plummer and Jo Wilson

128 EXECUTIVE SUMMARIES

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