Musings from the CU Suite

Feb 21, 2012

Data: Some That Shouldn't Shock Us, and Some That Might

Written by Anthony Demangone

Meetings.  (Sigh.)  We've complained about them forever. But does anything change?

Perhaps not.  At least according to this Wall Street Journal article.  The article was based on a study that tracked the days of 500 CEOs.  From the article:

In one sample of 65 CEOs, executives spent roughly 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings, more than three hours on calls and five hours in business meals, on average. Some of the remaining time was spent traveling, in personal activity, such as exercise or lunches with spouses, or in short activities, such as quick calls, that weren't recorded by CEOs' assistants. Working alone averaged just six hours weekly.  (Emphasis added.)

Whoah, Nelly!  Six hours?  I understand all too well how meetings can eat up your day.  But I was a bit shocked to learn that the average CEO's schedule includes only six hours a week for "alone" time.   My guess is that six hours is not enough.

Fred Becker, my boss, always urges me to turn off the computer, shut my door, and simply think.  On the rare occasions when I do it, it tends to work.  Over the lunch hour, recently, I dashed off to get a hair cut.  As I walked to the barber, and while I sat in the chair, my mind stumbled onto this issue: What do NAFCU's members really want from our Annual Conference? Networking?  Entertainment?  Education?  A mix?  If so, what is the right mix?  Or do you try to build numerous conference experiences within the same conference to adapt it to as many points of view as possible? 

I certainly didn't come up with any hard answers.  But "quiet time" was very useful.  And my wife likes my haircut.  But I do a terrible job of building this sort of work into my schedule.

Back to the WSJ article: it wasn't all gloom and doom.  One CEO created a system that worked for him.  He now budgets 25% of his time for thinking.  He uses his travel time (flights) and he also blocks off time on his calendar. 

How did this CEO view meetings?

"While you are sitting in a meeting, your competition is getting stuff done," he says. 

So, I pose these questions to you:

  1. Do you have enough "down" time within your schedule to think? 
  2. How much time do you spend in meetings?  Is that too much, too little, or not enough?

Do any of you have a system that builds in "thinking" time? And how do you manage the "meetings" beast?   Curious minds (including mine) want to know.