So what’s it going to take to make you a successful CIO? Is it going to be your understanding of a wide variety of the IT sector’s emerging technologies? Is it your ability to understand where the company stands in the marketplace and where it wants to go? Or is it your business skills that allow you to seamlessly network with the rest of the company in order to lead the IT department?
Turns out that these are all good to have; however, what it’s going to take to get you to the finish line is something much more valuable: personal energy.
Why You Are Doing A Poor Job Of Being CIO
How would you be able to tell if you were doing a poor job of being CIO? I guess one way would be to determine that you were not getting things done – more and more tasks were just sitting around waiting for you to get to them. Is this happening? Maybe we should take a look at your email inbox – is it getting rather full?
So what’s going on here? You’ve probably read that “Getting Things Done” book, you’ve studied the 7 habits of effective people, how much more time can you spend managing your time? Tony Schwartz has looked into what is going on here and he believes that we are all experiencing what he calls a “personal energy crisis”.
Look, for years and years we have all been finding ways to do more in a fixed amount of time – thank you smart phones and laptops. However, we’ve just about used up all of our available time no matter how hard we try to free up more time to do stuff. We are out of time. Going forward it’s not going to be so much about finding more time to get things done, rather it’s all going to be about finding the personal energy to get things done.
How To Find Your Personal Power
The concept of having enough personal power to get the important work done seems straightforward enough. But how does one actually go about doing this? Here’s what we are all missing: we are human beings and that means that at a biological level we are programmed to work for a while and then to take a rest. The definition of information technology focuses on the software and systems that we use to accomplish tasks – we are not those machines. We are not computers sitting in some data center somewhere that can be plugged in and run for months or years without stopping.
Ooops, did I say rest? Doesn’t that go against just about everything that you are currently doing? Didn’t you get to the position of CIO by working harder than everyone else? Getting in early, staying late, working weekends is what it takes to succeed, right?
Bad / Good news – turns out that we’ve got it all wrong. Because we are human beings, we do need rest. But the good thing about rest is that after we get some, we have the ability to do more work than before. Studies of pilots have shown this to be true: a short half-hour nap boosted their reaction times by 16% while pilots who didn’t nap had their reaction times drop by 34%. I suspect that most of us are in the 34% crowd.
A sleep researcher names Nathaniel Kleitman came up with the concept of the “basic rest activity cycle”. What this means is that during the day we all cycle through a 90-minute cycle where we go from high alertness to low alertness. Clearly your body wants you to stop and take a break every 90 minutes or so.
To become a more effective CIO you need to make some changes in how you run your day. You need to schedule your work so that you are running at a higher focus for a shorter period of time. After this period is over, you need to take the time to rest and allow your body to renew itself. By doing this you will find that you really can get more work done in less time!
What All Of This Means For You
In order to be an effective CIO you are going to have to be able to get an awful lot of work done. The question that should be smacking you in the face right about now is just exactly how are you going to get all of that work done? It turns out that time management is only going to get you so far. You are eventually going to run out of time.
The importance of information technology means that you need to become a strong leader, not one that runs out of steam. You are going to have to switch from managing your time to managing your personal energy. We humans are designed to work in 90 minute cycles. What this means that is that we’ll go from being very alert to being not so alert every hour and a half. Understanding that you have this cycle and designing your work schedule around it will be the key to becoming and remaining effective.
You can become the CIO that everyone turns to because they know that you can get it done. However, the only way that you’re going to be able to do this is to make sure that your personal energy is up to powering you through day after day of charting your company’s technological future. Start living your work days 90 minutes at a time and you’ll be the CIO that everyone looks up to.
Question For You: What’s the best way to make sure that you can divide your day up into 90 minute blocks?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I’m green, you’re green, all of IT is going green. Ok, so this sure sounds like a good thing to do and I’m all for saving the planet and such, but is it really worth it? I mean we’re still dealing with the aftereffects of that global recession thing and should those of us in the IT sector insist that green IT projects pay for themselves? If the answer is yes, then how the heck can we determine if a green IT project is a good idea or not?