In Business, ceopinions

Ceopinions: How to Prioritize Your Day When Everything Is Important

By Matthew Zeiler

In this month’s “CEOpinions” blog series, our CEO Matt “Pokemon Go? More like Pokemon No” Zeiler shares his life hacks for prioritization and efficiency. Catch up on the full “CEOpinions” blog series here.

At a young company like Clarifai, everyone is too busy, whether they’re an intern or the CEO. When you have a million things you need to do, it’s important to find a way to prioritize them and, more importantly, make time for them. Here are some ways I juggle all the things I need to do on a daily basis so that I can stay sane and happy.

Make your calendar work for you

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I think of my calendar as the digital guardian of my time – if a chunk of time is blocked off, it’s protected. My days tend to fill up with meetings, so I try to block off Tuesdays and Thursdays for coding. Anyone at Clarifai can see my calendar and when I’m busy or free. I also use a great time-saving tool called youcanbook.me for all external meetings for people outside of Clarifai to book time on my calendar, which saves a ton of back and forth for everyone!

Consolidate similar activities every day

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While multi-tasking can be useful, it can also be a drain on your productivity. Every time you switch activities, there’s a mental context shift that needs to happen, and it takes time for you to readjust. I like to block similar activities together to minimize the time I have to spend transitioning from one mindset to another. For example, I’ll try to schedule all my meetings back to back so I can do other work for a long, uninterrupted period of time, rather than have each of my meetings spaced out by a useless thirty minutes.

Exercise your body as much as your mind

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Nothing is as important as good health – getting upset at my health and fitness is something I do not have time for as a CEO. So, I try to exercise every day no matter how busy I get. To maximize efficiency, I’ll run home from work one night then run back to work the next morning – don’t worry, there’s a shower in our office (a must have for any office in my opinion)! If you start to exercise every day, you’ll build it into a habit where the thought of failing at keeping it up really bothers you and forces you to continue being healthy, which is a good thing. Trust me. If you fall behind, you’ll get upset at yourself and your health, something you do not have time to think about as a CEO.

Commute time = email time

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I don’t know about you, but it seems like every time I reply to an email, ten more take its place in my inbox. I try not to respond to emails during the day so that my day remains proactive rather than reactive. Instead, I use the time I commute to check and respond to emails. This allows me to focus on my own work I need to get done before putting out other people’s fires. If anything requires my immediate attention, people let me know through Slack, phone call, or face to face, not email. When I get to my inbox, it’s color-coded, so I can scan quickly: fires are red, @clarifai addresses are blue, code related stuff is green, and investors are yellow.

Happy employees, happy CEO

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Despite the previous talking points harping on how I try to use my time efficiently, I have an open door policy and drop everything when an employee comes to me with a problem. I try to make myself as available as possible, and proactively schedule CEO one-on-ones every Friday afternoon where people rotate in for thirty minutes at a time. After all, a company is only as successful as the team that’s building it!

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