CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. The leaders worked 9.7 hours per weekday, on average. They also conducted business on 79% of weekend days, putting in an average of 3.9 hours daily, and on 70% of vacation days, averaging 2.4 hours daily. As these figures show, the CEO’s job is relentless.
Given that work could consume every hour of their lives, CEOs have to set limits so that they can preserve their health and their relationships with family and friends.
They slept, on average, 6.9 hours a night, and many had regular exercise regimens, which consumed about 9% of their non-work hours (or about 45 minutes a day).
The top job in a company involves primarily face-to-face interactions, which took up 61% of the work time of the CEOs we studied. Another 15% was spent on the phone or reading and replying to written correspondence. The final 24% was spent on electronic communications.
In theory, e-mail helps leaders cut down on face-to-face meetings and improve productivity. In reality, many find it ineffective and a dangerous time sink—but one they have trouble avoiding. E-mail interrupts work, extends the workday, intrudes on time for family and thinking, and is not conducive to thoughtful discussions. CEOs are endlessly copied on FYI e-mails. They feel pressure to respond because ignoring an e-mail seems rude.
Some CEOs in our study have begun to use videoconferencing as an alternative to face-to-face meetings, especially to cut down on travel for themselves and for team members who might otherwise have to come to see them. Although such efficiencies should surely be sought, CEOs must never forget that at its core their job is a face-to-face one.
CEOs oversee a large number of organizational units and work streams and countless types of decisions.A clear and effective agenda optimizes the CEO’s limited time; without one, demands from the loudest constituencies will take over, and the most important work won’t get done.