Editor’s note: Inc. asked eight entrepreneurs at the top of their game to track for one day (Tuesday, November 29, 2016) how they spent every single hour. Productivity expert and author Laura Vanderkam then weighed in on what they’re doing right, what they may be doing wrong, and how you can apply their productivity skills to your life.
Slack‘s explosive growth–from zero users to more than 4 million in less than four years–is all the more impressive considering that what it offers, office productivity software, isn’t typically associated with a rabid following. As Slack’s chief technical officer, Cal Henderson, 36, shows off some serious time-management chops of his own in his job of ensuring that product updates go off without a hitch.
7:30 a.m. Wake up, review news from BBC and front page of Reddit, quickly review Slack (mainly DMs from overnight), and shower.
8:00 a.m. I get two to three hours a day with my 2-year-old son during the week (an hour in the morning and an hour or more in the evening), so I make a point not to do work during these hours.
Laura says: Family time can be anytime.
Mornings are great for spending with family. If family dinner isn’t happening because of your crazy work schedule, breakfast is a great substitute.
9:00 a.m. My morning commute is a 50-minute walk. It includes a
stop at Blue Bottle for coffee, and I listen to audiobooks at 2-to-3x speed. I’ve read or listened to 70-plus books this year.
10:00 a.m. The meetings begin, often with a staff meeting. It’s late enough that the late starters (like me!) have been at the office for a few minutes, but not so late that they’ve gotten down to work.
11:00 a.m. I schedule meetings on the half-hour or hour. It’s easy to let them fill the time. Having an agenda before you start is a huge help. Many recurring meetings have a single document with an agenda that we add to over the course of the week.
12:00 p.m. I set a 10-minute reminder on my Apple Watch for meetings. It’s helpful for workflow. Our video conference system (Zoom) displays a countdown for the last 10 minutes of each meeting, which keeps me on time.
1:00 p.m. We cater lunch once a week, but encourage people to get out of the office on the other days. I spend 30 minutes each week with each of my direct reports and others. Doing walking one-on-ones helps me get exercise.
2:00 p.m. Brainstorm. At 2:30, I take a break. I like a few breathers throughout the day–I find having a couple of half-hour breaks is much less stressful than having constant, back-to-back meetings.
Laura says: Manage your meetings.
Meetings expand to fill the available space. And if they’re stacked up, back to back, it’s easy for the schedule to fall apart when one runs late. Cal guards against this by putting in an open half-hour at 2:30 p.m. This slack keeps everything running on time.
3:00 p.m. Time for some onsite interviews. I interview only a fraction of the candidates we have onsite, but I like to spend a portion of my time every week on recruiting.
4:00 p.m. I schedule one block daily without a meeting to catch up on Slack (I’m also reading it during the day) and email (I usually check it just once a day). I also read proposals, give feedback, or route information to the right people.
5:00 p.m. I have a 40-minute walk home. I try to walk every day, though that gets harder in the winter with the early sunset. Having the extra time to think or listen to an audiobook or podcast is a great way to decompress.
6:00 p.m. This is family time.
7:00 p.m. My wife and I have a set date night once a week. It can be hard to stick to, but making sure we take time away from work every week is really important.
11:00 p.m. Brush teeth. Listen to audiobook.
Laura says …
I am so impressed with Cal’s schedule. If he can get enough sleep, have family time, and exercise while running a major company, so can everyone else. Note the sleep: eight hours. Not everyone needs eight hours, but whatever your happy sleep number is, do what you can to structure your life to get it.