Meetings Dominate CEOs’ Schedules: How Do CEOs Spend Their Day?

By Nathan Denny

CEOs’ schedules can be daunting when you think about the amount of responsibilities and people they speak with on a daily basis. A recent study found that meetings dominated a CEO’s workweek. So, what do CEOs do all day and how that this affect the way a business is run?

“I don’t know when I’m not in a meeting,” says one CEO.

“While you are sitting in a meeting, your competition is getting stuff done,” says another.

In an effort to understand just how CEOs are spending their time, experts at the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School created the Executive Time Use Project and examined the daily activities of more than 500 CEOs all around the world.

It’s no trivial exercise. An increasingly common criticism since the economic slump of the late-2000s is that CEOs aren’t as engaged or accountable in their organizations as they could be — and that U.S. productivity has suffered for it.

The findings? About 1/3 of a CEO’s day is spent in meetings — and that’s way more time than CEOs spend on any other part of their day.

“In one sample of 65 CEOs, executives spent roughly 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings, more than 3 hours on calls and 5 hours in business meals, on average,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Meetings Dominate CEOs' Schedules: How Do CEOs Spend Their Day?“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 6 hours weekly.”

But that’s no surprise, say researchers (who got their data from time logs kept by executive assistants).

After all, “since one of the roles of a CEO is to manage employees and meet with customers and consultants,” all that meeting time kind of comes with the territory.
Originally published: Feb 14, 2012

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