How Execs Use their Time

August 17, 2015

How Execs Use their Time

There really have not been many new studies on how CEOs use their time. So when one comes along that even remotely has information, I jump. This one is from Quartz, the Atlantic Media publication that is billed as a “digitally native news outlet for the new global economy.” The information is not even remote, it’s pretty directly related to the kind of information that I find useful.

The results from Quartz’s global executive study is shared online. They surveyed 940 global executives about their use of time and present the data by four industries – finance, tech, media/advertising and consulting, among other breaks. As interesting as the results are, their description of how they managed to get so many time-scarce top execs to answer with a 55% response rate is equally compelling. Read about that here. Here are some of the interesting pieces of information that grabbed me:

  • 44% of global execs focus on news when they first wake up, so catch them early
  • 75% of executives spend at least 30 minutes on news every day, mostly in the early morning and mostly on their phones. They check the news periodically during the day but no preferred time showed up since their days are so chaotic probably
  • 61% primarily use their mobiles to get their news with only 5% reading a newspaper or turning on the TV first
  • 60% of executives read an email newsletter as one of their first three news sources they check daily. The prominence of the email newsletter continues. As the late and wonderful David Carr wrote last year, the death of the newsletter is greatly exaggerated. Gosh, I miss his Media Equation on Monday mornings. Here is how Carr explained the ascent of the email newletter, “Newsletters are clicking because readers have grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognizable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos.”
  • Executives really heavily on email newsletters (56%), general news sites (55%) and industry-specific news sites (55%)
  • Nearly all execs share work-related information with others via email
  • Execs are most likely to share information via mobile (47%) and desktop (48%)
  • Only 22% share information face to face, preferring to share via email or social platforms
  • About half of the executives follow brands on social media, whether inside or outside their industries. What interests them most is industry analysis, company products and innovation, leadership insights and to a far lesser extent, growth stories or perspectives on social issues. Social issues always ranks last it seems, not fair!

I have noticed that email newsletters are great ways to get short bites of information to start your day. They bullet point the few things you ought to know before everything comes crashing down. As a rule, I read our industry newsletters every day (PRWeek and The Holmes Report) and then a variety of emailed newsletters about women executives, newsletters from the WSJ and NYT, Quartz and some from bloggers I follow. Although I never feel like I have the time, I almost always scan them and never fail to read something that intrigues me. They either provide me with good information to use or they are witty and sharp and it gets me in fighting practice for my day. Actually, I quite enjoy it.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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