The High Pay Centre recently calculated that the average FTSE 100 CEO earns slightly more than £1,000 an hour. An underlying assumption was that top bosses work a punishing 12 hours a day, 320 days a year.
Bruce Daisley is having none of it. Twitter’s VP for EMEA is a keen student of the research into productivity and the dangers of overwork, which has led him not only to cut his own hours, but also to help his staff do the same. He tells Management Today how to do more with less time.
"We live in a world that celebrates overwork. No one’s stepping forward and saying I work less.
"As Daniel Levitin explains in his book The Organized Mind, the brain is configured to make a certain number of decisions a day. Once you reach that limit you can’t make any more. As soon as I read that, this notion of working an 80 hour week seemed like nonsense.
"If you ask people when they last had a good idea, it’s normally when they’re walking the dog or in the shower or staring out the window. That’s when what neuroscientists call our default network is active, but now our calendars are so overscheduled and we get so many emails that our default network is rarely active: when we're stuck in queue, we start looking at our phone.
"You’re rarely expected to respond instantly to emails at Twitter. I’ve tried to encourage people to recognise that there’s more than one channel of communication. You can’t remove yourself from the fact that more in-depth, face-to-face discussion really works. Email’s more transactional here."
"Meetings are a tax on time. I read in Management Today once that the average person spends 16 hours a week in meetings. I’d say most organisations could halve that by working in smaller groups and having standing meetings.
"Also, while there’s sometimes a benefit of setting aside time in the calendar for regular meetings, if you’ve got nothing to talk about, cancel it. There’s a big mindset change there. Sometimes when you cancel, people will think you just haven’t prepared, but it’s far more about taking a poll and saying if we’ve got nothing, I’m going to return the time to you."
"Multitasking is a fallacy. All we can do is transition very quickly between things, but when we do there’s an attention residue. It’s like a teenager watching a movie while on their phone, and missing part of the plot. We should celebrate uninterrupted attention because that’s where the good stuff happens."
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