A recent survey looked at how almost 300 C-level execs from leading companies spent their days.
As expected, a lot of time is devoted to meetings, emails and teamwork. What you might not have expected is the amount of time spent on personal development (30 minutes per day, or 2.5 hours per week not counting weekends) and social interaction (8 hours per week).
Success leaves clues, and these are very telling. How much time do people who aspire to be in those positions spend on personal development or career-driven social interaction? Probably not as much, when they should likely be doing even more.
Here are two habits I have found that, when done consistently, can take anyone to the next level no matter what their goals are.
Personal Development: I do an orientation session for every group of new hires at my company, Undertone. Last week someone asked me for a tip of how they can accelerate their own development. I said this: create a daily habit of reading your industry’s trade publications, every day. This is easy to do if you have a commute and can come in many forms - newsletters, twitter, feeds or the old fashioned way, going to each site one by one (this is what I do). In digital media we are fortunate to have many dedicated trade publications like Ad Age, Adweek, Mediapost, Adexchanger, Digiday and others, as well as big mainstream publications like WSJ’s CMO today and Business Insider. Daily reading is the single best way to speed understanding of an industry, develop an eye for trends and provide intelligence to your coworkers & clients (email them some of the most relevant stories with your point of view). I do this every single morning and it takes, ironically, about 30 minutes.
Social Interaction: I’ll assume that most social interaction time will go to family and friends. as it should. However, finding just one hour per week to go towards development of key relationships can be a game changer. Grab lunch or coffee with an industry peer, or better yet, someone who is where you want to be in the future. Find out what makes them tick, what you have in common and a challenge they might be facing. Then figure out how you can help this person, ideally by connecting them with someone in your close network who can. This creates a stronger, more valuable network for you and adds immediate value to both friends. And do it again and again. I can’t say enough about how this has helped my own career and life in general. One thing that is important here is to be very selective over those who you spend this time with. One of my favorite sayings (I think I first heard this from Tim Ferriss) is that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Cultivate a circle of positive people that make you better.
Done over time, the compounded gains from these two habits of top performers can make an incredible difference in one’s career.