CEO Time: What It Is, Why You Need It, and How to Make It Happen

This blog is the first blog of our 8-part Rhythm Series. You can learn more about what rhythms in business are here and why I believe they are the foundation of any successful, sustainable, scalable creative business. Be sure to click here to subscribe to my email list so you’ll be the first to know when the next blog drops each week.

I hope you’ve checked out my very first post of the NEW YEAR (um… seriously…how in the WORLD is it 2022?!). 

It’s all about the importance of rhythms in your business. 

*If not, you can check it out here and come right back when you’re ready to put your first rhythm in motion.

Today we’re talking all about the most FOUNDATIONAL rhythm of all *IMO* (in my opinion). I call it CEO Time. It’s a really big deal and it’s the reason why we’re kicking off the Rhythm Blog Series with this post. But before we dig into all the nuts and bolts, let’s chat a bit about the term “CEO” first. 

Mindset is EVERYTHING, after all…

What comes to mind when you think of the term “CEO”?

  • a stuffy corporate office?
  • business casual attire?
  • power and authority?
  • an out-of-touch administrator bossing everyone around?

 … OR… do you think of YOURSELF (and I know for a fact you’re not a “regular” CEO, you’re a COOL CEO – gotta love a Mean Girls reference)

While the term CEO, aka “Chief Executive Officer”, may come from the corporate world, as an entrepreneur YOU get to give it new meaning as you step into your role as the CEO of your business. 

Whether you oversee a large agency, work closely with a small team, or identify as a solopreneur, owning your role as the “boss” of your organization is about way more than the title. 

The CEO title is all about balance. It’s like looking through a microscope AND binoculars at the same time. You need to be in tune with the nitty-gritty operations of your business on a detailed level, while also prioritizing vision-casting so that you feel grounded in the overall direction of your company. 

One of the biggest challenges new, and even experienced, business owners struggle with is shifting from an employee mindset into a CEO mindset. 

Most likely, you’ve been an employee for many years. You received “orders” from the top, put your head down, and checked off the tasks assigned to you. You were not steering the ship, you were (figuratively) swabbing the decks and raising the sails to make someone else’s voyage possible.

But now…

You’re the boss! 

This means there’s no one there to…

  • Tell you what to do… you call the shots (for better or worse)!
  • Hold you accountable… if you don’t get it done, no one is coming to save the day – you need to be your own hero
  • Blame for the challenges along the way… you’re in the driver’s seat which means you get the power AND the responsibility

It also means you have the authority to do things in a way that feels genuinely aligned to your dreams, visions, and core values. You set the course and decide where you want to go. 

But, if you don’t take time to reflect, dream, and put a plan into action as CEO, you’ll most likely discover that you’re recreating someone else’s version of success or a business you don’t actually want to run at all. Without taking regular CEO time, you’re likely running your business as an employee instead of as a boss and that’s simply a recipe for disaster, burn-out, and misalignment.

CEO Time can make all the difference.

It will be the secret ingredient that helps you build a business that is intentional, strategic, sustainable, scalable, and most importantly, successful.

Ready to become the CEO you always knew you could be? 

Let’s explore what CEO Time is, why so many business owners don’t prioritize CEO Time, the undeniable benefits of taking CEO Time, and how to consistently create space in your work to step away from your daily operations and into your role as CEO.

What is CEO Time?

CEO Time is time to work ON your business instead of IN your business. It means you carve out time away from the day-to-day tasks to TRULY wear your CEO hat (AKA it’s not time off or a vacation…although time off for YOU is equally as important). 

During this time you’ll be able to focus on the strategy behind your business that influences the direction, long-term goals, and day-to-day operations. You’ll also have time for big-picture vision casting. You’ll remove yourself from the daily tasks of your business so that you can think long-term, strategize months and even years into the future, and reconnect to your “why.” This will ensure that every task, action, and offer in your business is ACTUALLY moving the needle forward to help you reach those big goals and dreams you’ve set.

Why So Many Entrepreneurs Fail to Prioritize CEO Time (and are missing OUT!)

Now, CEO Time sounds great. But there’s a reason most entrepreneurs don’t take this time in their businesses. It’s not because they don’t want to or even that they think they don’t need to. 

I know I don’t need to tell you, but being a business owner means you wear a lot of hats. It may be a cliche, but it’s SO true! 

On any given day, I bet I could find you… managing your social media account, reconciling your books, sending invoices, hopping on sales calls, and so much more!

 The REAL reason so many entrepreneurs don’t take CEO Time? 

They’re afraid!

Afraid that the moment they step away, the whole operation will crumble! Can you relate?

Do you feel like…

  • You’re overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations and are just trying to keep things afloat? 
  • You’ve duct-taped your systems (or even your whole business) together behind the scenes?
  • You’re not sure how, or when, or even WHAT to outsource or delegate?
  • You don’t know how to get on track and into alignment? 
  • You’ve built a business that you think you SHOULD like but don’t…

If so, CEO Time is going to help you stay on the pulse of your business needs and create space to reflect, plan, and iterate, so that you can proactively step back into your daily rounds with clarity, direction, and vision. Ultimately, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing you are moving your business in a direction you genuinely feel GOOD about. 

The Benefits of CEO Time

CEO Time isn’t an excuse to put things off. It’s not an escape or a cop-out. Instead, it’s the backbone of all of your business rhythms. CEO Time can grow, expand, and change to fit your needs throughout the many different seasons of your business and life. Let’s explore the top 6 reasons why CEO Time is essential when creating a sustainable, scalable, passion-led business. 

#1 Big Picture Planning

CEO Time is your time to do big picture planning, tap into your creativity, and come back to your work feeling inspired and revitalized. With your mind clear and your calendar free, you’ll be able to hop off the hamster wheel and press pause so that you can be intentional about how your business is operating for you, your clients, your team, and your legacy. You’ll have the opportunity to problem-solve for your current needs and plan for the months and even years ahead!

#2 Keep Your Business Running Like A Well-Oiled Machine

Don’t be the bottleneck. 

We’ve all been there. As CEOs, we become so ingrained in all the tiny details day-in and day-out. When we hold everything in our minds, we may feel a sense of control, but in reality, this approach to your work is going to lead to exhaustion and burn-out. This means it will be harder to scale and grow your business. 

CEO Time can become a practice in letting go, asking for help, and releasing the reigns. You simply cannot do it all and sometimes, bringing on expert team members can help you to get things done faster and even better than you could have by yourself. Leaning on the help of automations, systems, and even other people is what makes your work sustainable long-term. 

#3 Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive

CEO time allows you to be more proactive in your business overall. Using CEO time regularly keeps your business in alignment. This proactive rather than reactive approach lets you be more deliberate, discerning, and intentional in your work. 

You’ll regularly ((key word)) be able to evaluate opportunities as they come (so you don’t miss out on awesome events or take on something that isn’t in line with your goals), get a good grasp on what is or is not working to support your workflows, and identify any changes you should be making in your business. 

As a result your business remains agile and stays in alignment. All of these factors are key to building a sustainable and scalable business.

#4 Reach Your Goals Faster

It’s not a race, but sometimes we get in our own way unnecessarily. CEO Time can help you kick self-sabotage to the curb!

Often entrepreneurs hesitate to take CEO Time because they think it’s taking them away from the work that needs to be done. Slowing down consistently can actually help you accelerate ahead! 

Essentially, we slow down to speed up!

CEO Time can shorten the time to success by allowing you to pivot, adjust, and iterate faster as things grow and change in your business. 

If you just keep charging ahead or muscling through, it’s going to take you WAY longer to reach your goals. Instead, if you put the right time, attention, and planning into your work you’ll stop spinning your wheels. Remember, work smarter, not harder!

#5 Tap Into Your Creativity

CEO Time isn’t just about planning, problem-solving, or dreaming. Sometimes your CEO Time is about pouring into yourself as a professional and as a creative!

Your CEO Time may include…

  • continuing education
  • reading
  • attending conferences
  • interviewing mentors you admire
  • meeting with fellow entrepreneurs
  • & more! 

When you free up your time and space, you also free up your energy and allow the ideas to flow! With CEO Time you create opportunities to innovate and inspire your offers, your team, and your audience. 

#6 It’s The Rhythm That Supports All Your Other Rhythms

Strategically committing to CEO Time means making it a priority and developing the systems you need to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes. Plus, carving out CEO Time will give you the space you need to tend to the rest of your rhythms (hint: this is why I’m talking to you about CEO Time first)! Get CEO Time blocked on your schedule regularly so that you can put rhythms in place now and grow into your CEO role in the future.

How to Schedule CEO Time

So, by now you’re convinced and ready to make CEO Time a thing in your business ASAP, right?! 

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you to fend for yourself. 

I’ve walked all of my clients through this exact process countless times. Now, I’m here to support you and take the guesswork out of CEO Time. Let me guide you through the process so that you can commit to CEO Time in an aligned, effective, and manageable way.

Step 1: Complete a Time Audit 

Do you ever sit down at your desk, look up at the clock, and wonder– where did the time go?!

When you aren’t mindful of how you spend your work hours (or personal time for that matter) the minutes, hours, and even DAYS can escape you! This means you’re less productive, but more importantly, it makes it harder to maintain boundaries. 

Suddenly work hours spill into dinner time and weekends. 

I don’t know about you, but that is NOT what I signed up for. 

Before trying to throw CEO Time into your “calendar abyss” like yet another to-do item, take inventory of what is already happening with your schedule. This will allow you to schedule CEO Time realistically, mindfully, and strategically.

Time audits will help you see where your time is going so you can take control, reclaim your time, ditch the time-wasters once and for all, and implement CEO Time in a way that will be most beneficial to you and your business. 

Time Audit Basics:

  • Commit to auditing your time for 7 consecutive days.
    • Hint: there is never a “perfect” or ideal time to do an audit. Just go for it! There’s always a reason this week is a bit different than normal so just pick 7 days and commit without overthinking it!

  • Keep track of how you are spending your time with a spreadsheet or a journal.

  • Take note of meetings, social media engagement, client correspondence, breaks/meals, etc.
    • Also note the QUALITY of that time. Were you in a flow? Distracted? Interrupted? If so, how much and by what? This will help you figure out the best times to do certain work and the biggest time suckers you’re up against!

  • Evaluate how much time is spent on similar tasks.

  • Notice patterns from day-to-day and over the course of the week.

  • Ask yourself: What’s working? What’s not?

  • Consider your core values. Are you spending your time in ways that support these values or undermine them?

Once you get a grip on your time, you may be able to substitute unhelpful time eaters with your CEO Time. Or you may notice open time in your schedule that could be better harnessed for CEO Time on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis. Lastly, you might even be able to target where a block of CEO time could fit into your schedule that will help you get ahead on tasks. This can make your work even easier and more efficient (and a whole lot less stressful since you’re consistently planning ahead).

Step 2: Streamline Your Operations

When you’re in the weeds of your business it can feel impossible to crawl your way out of the daily stressors, challenges, and obstacles. But, if you continue on the same path and keep pushing ahead without making any changes, you’re on a direct route to burnout!

Often we avoid CEO TIme, not because we can’t make the time but because we’re hesitant to step away. Ease your concerns by setting yourself up for success and taking a load off!

Consider where you can automate, streamline, document, or refine your business systems to make repeated tasks in your business work smoothly behind the scenes without your constant attention and energy. 

  1. Automate anything and everything you can. There are so many apps that make being human SO much easier. Don’t rely on your willpower or memory to get everything done on time. Instead, take the time upfront to set up automations once, and you’ll save yourself time over and over again moving forward. You can automate things like emails, scheduling, and capturing client inquiries. 

  2. Create systems. If it’s in your head, you can’t hand it off to a team member or outsource it to an expert. Or, if you do, it’s going to feel like a huge, overwhelming task that’s going to suck up all your energy and attention. Be sure to proactively document all portions of your repeating workflows, “how-tos”, and overall business operations. These are called SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures. SOPs include all sorts of things from finances to client experience to social media. This upfront planning will allow you to grow and scale without being a bottleneck that slows everything down. 

  3. Delegate. If you have a team, look for ways to lean on them for support and expertise. The best leaders know that they cannot and should not do everything. Know your limits! Once you’ve identified and set up any tasks that can be automated, and have a set system for those that need human attention, you can confidently delegate certain tasks to your team and take some responsibilities off your plate. If you don’t have a team, you may consider outsourcing certain tasks or projects that you keep putting off, struggle with, or dread doing. 

  4. Communicate. Let people know how to get in touch in case of an emergency or who they can reach out to during your absence. Emergencies happen and you want to make sure your clients always feel taken care of within reason and within your boundaries.

  5. Scaffold. I don’t expect you to flesh out a full, extensive CEO Time plan right away. But I encourage you to start small. I recommend starting with one hour of CEO time each week. With time you might find you can increase that to a half day or a full day. Once you’ve established this new routine, you can consider longer CEO Time blocks over a 3-day weekend or even a full week. These will of course need to be aligned to your goals, schedule, and priorities.  

With these pieces in place, it will be so much easier to step away from your work for CEO Time without constantly checking your email, team Slack channel, or Voxer! You can zoom out for some big picture planning that will bring you and your entire business back into alignment time and time again.

COO Tip: Even if you think you know where your time is going, you’ll likely uncover surprising trends and insights with your time audit. I can’t think of a single time audit that my clients or I’ve done that hasn’t yielded surprising insights.

You’ll discover how much time are you ACTUALLY spending…

  • on that client account
  • getting lost in your inbox
  • multitasking instead of just focusing on one thing at a time
  • each time you get interrupted by a Voxer, email, or text that takes you out of your flow

All of these factors (and more) have an impact. When you understand them, you can either minimize them or learn to work with them, not against them!

Step 3: Create a Schedule

Decide how often you’d like to take CEO Time. There is no right or wrong answer. You can do this weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or annually. I highly recommend finding a balance of each of these that works for you! 

COO Tip: CEO Time can be a day-long intensive, or it could even last as long as a week. Personally, I do both! I take one day each week (Fridays are my CEO Days) AND I take a full week of CEO time once every year so that I can get things in motion that will positively impact my business long-term. I’ve even had clients who like to get away for their CEO TIme. They might book a hotel stay so that they can truly dive deep and work consistently without interruptions. This not only gets you out of your daily rounds but also puts you in a new environment. Sometimes a change of scenery is EVERYTHING (and can even be found at your local coffee shop)!

You can explore taking CEO Time at different points throughout the year:

  • Weekly: Some of my clients reserve one day of each week for CEO tasks. Tending to this rhythm each week ensures that you’re putting your CEO hat on regularly (mine are on Fridays!)

  • Monthly: Monthly CEO Time offers the opportunity to notice seasonal trends and external factors that may be influencing your business.

  • Quarterly: Quarterly CEO Time can help you observe general patterns and trends. You can pivot faster in the moment and collect data to influence how you approach that quarter next year. 

  • Annually: Taking CEO Time at a specific point each year is like a bird’s eye view that can offer a unique perspective. Each year, you can take CEO Time as a way to reflect, celebrate, realign, plan, and set things into action. I recommend taking more than 1 day if possible.

Once you decide, mark it on the calendar and make it a non-negotiable. 

Once it’s defined and set, you’ll need to PROTECT it! Make sure to communicate this to your team members and your clients early and often. This time is a boundary you need to hold (and sometimes willpower alone isn’t enough). Add it to your calendar and treat it like any other appointment or meeting. If you wouldn’t cancel a meeting with a client at the last minute, don’t cancel on yourself either!

COO Tip: After you decide when you’ll be taking CEO time, make the most of the time by going into it with a plan. 

  • Decide what you want to cover and what you’ll need in order to do it (maybe you need financials, sales reports, feedback forms from clients, or something else. Whatever it is, make sure you have it before your scheduled CEO Time, so you can dive right in rather than chasing down the info you need!)

  • Start off with recurring agenda items based on the current season (like an end-of-year review, monthly financials, or quarterly goals update). This allows you to track things, notice trends, and gain insights. 

  • Lastly, focus on special projects or one-off agenda items (maybe creating a new offering, reviewing new website copy, updating your vision or values, the sky’s the limit!). I keep a running list of these items. When it’s time to plan CEO time I can easily review everything I want to cover and prioritize accordingly!

Choose the rhythms that make the most sense for your business and schedule. 

There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” plan for your CEO Time rhythms. There are some tried and true rhythms that just make sense! Here’s some advice to help you choose the right rhythms.

  1. Start simple, because starting is, honestly, the HARDEST part. Choose a regular weekly or monthly rhythm first and stick to it. You can layer on additional rhythms once the first rhythm is established. 

  2. Allow momentum to be your ally! Once you fall into your new rhythms for a few rounds, momentum makes it easier to keep up with them going forward. Be patient. It’s always tough to get going at first because you’re starting from a full stop and are likely playing a bit of catch up. I promise the initial effort is worth it and will offer you ease and flow in the near future. 

  3. Make sure it makes sense. If you try a rhythm but find they aren’t the best use of your time, give yourself permission to pivot to a different rhythm. 

  4. Find a balance in rhythms. Over time, you’ll find that you benefit from a mixture of consistent CEO time on a weekly or monthly basis paired well with a longer block of CEO Time. For example, I take CEO time every Friday AND I also carve out a FULL WEEK of CEO time each year to focus on vision-casting at a higher level. 

Let’s Sum It Up

CEO Time is the foundation upon which you’ll be able to build all the other rhythms of your business. Carving out this time ensures you are not succumbing to doing things a certain way just because, “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Instead, you’ll be able to navigate and direct your business with perspective, creativity, reflection, and alignment.

I can’t wait to see how you use CEO Time in your creative business! 

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This blog is part of an 8-part series on creating Rhythms to support your short-term and long-term business goals. CEO Time is the first rhythm we set because once you’ve put it in place, you can use this time to implement the other rhythms. 

Next, we’ll chat about financial rhythms in your business. Be sure to subscribe HERE and keep your rhythm-setting momentum going so you can tackle those new year’s goals and resolutions!

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Without taking regular CEO time, you’re likely running your business as an employee instead of as a boss and that’s simply a recipe for disaster, burn-out, and misalignment. Read more.
  1. […] can free up the mental space you need to stay in your zone of genius, and truly step into your role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) […]

  2. […] know when the next blog drops each week. If you missed last week’s blog, you can check it out here. We talked all about CEO Time and creating space in your workflow for big-picture planning and […]

  3. […] CEO Time is a perfect way to prioritize your creativity. CEO time is time to work on your business outside of your regular tasks. It allows you to focus on big picture visions, or in this case, the creative spark behind your work! You can take CEO time weekly, quarterly, or even annually. Find a balance between tapping into your creativity consistently while also carving out some more in-depth, extended time to get those creative juices flowing without the interruptions or distractions of your typical, day-to-day tasks.  […]

  4. […] CEO Time is time to work ON your business instead of IN your business. It’s the time you prioritize away from the day-to-day tasks to TRULY wear your CEO hat (AKA this is not time off or vacation time). CEO Time is different from taking a few days to relax at the beach or visit family (although time off for YOU is equally as important!).  […]

  5. […] creating Rhythms to support your short-term and long-term business goals. So far we’ve explored CEO Time, Financial Rhythms, Sales Rhythms,  Operations Rhythms, Creative Rhythms, and Marketing […]

  6. […] a small team of people as the CEO of your creative business can be an exciting, priceless experience. Each member of your team […]

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