How Can CIOs Once Again Take Control Over Their Schedule?

Life is rough. What can CIOs do to balance things out?
Life is rough. What can CIOs do to balance things out? Image Credit: Peter Kaminski

Artificial intelligence, state sponsored hackers, software licenses that are expiring, and everything else having to do with the importance of information technology means that a CIOs life is never easy. In fact, for many of us, it is possible that we feel that things have gotten out of hand. The daily stress level that a CIO has to put up with can be enormous. However, the good news is that we do have the ability to take back control over our lives. In order to do this, we need to know the secrets to how to make our time ours once again. The good news is that it is actually fairly easy to do…

Dealing With Schedule Overload

So if your ran the world, what would you like right now? Fewer tasks. Less stress. Better use of your time? Are any of these even possible? It can seem daunting for even the most talented CIO. For many of us, work and life have somehow been squashed into one. Our responsibilities have seemed to multiply. What all of this means for the person with the CIO job is that now is the perfect time to take back control of your schedule. Since there’s already all these demands placed on you, even moving the needle a little bit on your time-management skills is going to have a much larger impact. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t do it now, then when will you do it?

The good news is that you don’t have to be a hyper-detail-oriented, Type-A personality to add some boundaries to your day and streamline your schedule, What you need to do is to start with the basics. These include learning to give priority to tasks that are really important – meaning if you don’t do them, there’s going to be a major long-term impact. This is in contrast with those tasks that are just urgent, meaning they need to be done fast.

Add Some Personal Time To Your Schedule

The question that the person in the CIO position needs to be asking themselves is does your work calendar rule your life? What’s going on here is that it’s almost like we sacrifice our boundaries, our common sense, our dignity to our Outlook calendar. So what’s the solution? The solution is to add the personal on your calendar before the work obligations crowd everything else out. Each week, put these buckets on first: time for physical well-being, like exercise and eating, time for emotional well-being, like sleep and vacation days, time for continuous learning, and two 15-minute breather blocks a day so you can pause between Zoom calls.

Start To Think Small

The good news for CIOs is that you don’t need huge chunks of time to bring some balance back into your life. Instead, what you can do is to fit exercise, hobbies, even parenting into micro doses. You can do this by carving two 15-to-20-minute “self-care anchors” into your day – one in the morning, one in the evening, at consistent times each day. Pick activities that can restore you and timing that will help put edges back on your workday. The approach can help maximize time with kids, too. CIOs need to understand that children thrive on short bursts of truly undivided attention delivered consistently.

Consolidate The Things That You Need To Do

On our to-do list there will always be those things that require us to loop in another person. What we need to do with these are to wrangle them in one place and have a set time to deal with them. No CIO likes being bombarded with a stream of interruptions and requests all day long: a morning text message about this weekend’s birthday party, an offhand comment at dinner about fixing the leaky faucet. Instead what you can do is to keep a piece of paper. There you can continuously jots down tasks and queries that require consulting with people in your life.

Find Ways To Make Your To-Do List Get Smaller

Oh yeah, there is that to-do list thing that never seems to be getting any smaller. Does every item really have to be on there, haunting you? CIOs need to ask themselves questions about if each item really needs to be there in order to help whittle down their tasks. The questions that you ask yourself should include determining what you can: diminish, delegate, delete, or delay. This approach works for everyone, even single parents.

Final Option: Just Let It Go

Look: you are not going to get everything that you think that you need to do done. What this means is that you need to take some action. You need to take the things forever lingering on your to-do list, the ones you’re never going to get to, the ones you’re forever feeling terrible about, and move them to a white flag of a list. After you do this, feel good about leaving them behind. Treat this as a sign you’re prioritizing what matters. Understand that this practice feels uncomfortable at first. One way to deal with this feeling is to have a trusted colleague take a look to make sure you’re not accidentally letting go of something crucial.

What All Of This Means For You

Even in the modern age in which we are all living, it can be very easy for our schedule to get away from us. All too often CIOs are walking around with lengthy lists of things that they would like to get done; however, they never seem to have the time that they’ll need in order to work on them. What can be done to take back control over our schedules?

The first thing that we can do is to take the time to add some personal time to our schedules. If it’s on the schedule, then we’ll probably do it. If it’s not, then we’ll never get to it. We need to understand that we can start to take back control over our lives in small increments done each day. When we find that we need to interact with others, we need to group all of the interactions that we need to have with them and then do them all at once. It may not seem possible, but with a little bit of effort we can make our to-do lists shorter. We always have the final option of creating another list and moving things that we know that we’ll never be able to do to that list and then just letting them go.

The most valuable thing in the world is time. There never seems to be enough of it and too much of our time seems to be spent doing things that are not all that important. In order to take back our time, CIOs have to find ways to start to manage their schedules better. We can do this, we just need to understand the steps that we need to take. Reclaiming control over your time is not something that happens all at once. Instead, it is a process that you need to first start and then continue to work on. Make an effort to manage your schedule and you just might be surprised at how much time you end up with…

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that CIOs should stop accepting meetings if they are trying to reclaim control over their time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Of all of the things that the person with the CIO job has to take care of, you would think that getting everyone to create strong passwords would be among the easiest, right? I mean we all know what it takes to create a secure password – make it long, don’t use common words and change it often. However, nobody seems to do the right thing. Studies that are done about the passwords that people choose show that “12345678” is always the most popular one. What can CIOs do to get people to do the right thing when it comes to passwords?