GCP Central is a bustling hive of daily activity, so what does a typical week in the life of a CEO look like?

A week in the life of a CEO

Blog By Marieke Meuleman: As many of our readers will know, I’ve been running GCP Central since 2012, it’s been an incredible journey that has led me and the business to where we stand today.

When asked to write this blog, I thought, “wow, I’ll never be able to put a typical week down to paper”  but the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how structured I have to be in my position to guide the business to reach our business goals and stay productive.

From managing legal contracts and agreements to business development partner meetings, legislation, orientating new staff members, KPIs, staff interviews, marketing collaborations, website improvements, bug fixes, and software development. There isn’t really an area of the business that I don’t come into contact with. So how do I do it?

My tips for staying on top of the workload

Tip 1. Manage your time

For those who know me, they will know I am a true time management geek and I need to be, with the number of activities, responsibilities, and projects I have. I work in blocks of 1-hour max, and in that block, I work on activities like:

  • Payments
  • Administration 
  • Calling/emailing customers
  • Catch ups with the customer service department
  • Creating business processes 
  • Reviewing project statuses

I try to stay ahead as much as possible by knowing what the coming weeks look like for me, the business, and my individual teams. This means I juggle a few Google Calendars where I schedule this planning in advance as much as possible. Having visibility allows me to keep on track, manage project deadlines, and also plan my life beyond the office.

Tip 2. Resist the email anchor 

I manage my inbox using the time management quadrant of Covey: emails (and of course phone calls and people standing at your desk) can be categorized into 4 categories:

  1. Urgent and important
  2. Urgent and not important
  3. Not urgent and important
  4. Not urgent/not important

In the morning when I check my email, I answer all emails that can be done in 2 minutes.  I flag all emails that are important and urgent in this case to answer that same day. All other emails and tasks that are less urgent I plan into blocks later that week or the following week.

Working like this makes sure the urgent and important activities are done and all other activities are planned when needed.

Managing the expectations of co-workers and customers is highly important for me: I am eager to deliver good quality work in time and expect that from team members as well (another reason one of our business values is delivery counts!), that’s why I spend time with both customers and my team to discuss timelines and together decide what steps need to be taken when to deliver the expected result in time.

Tip 3. Keep meetings to a minimum

Like emails, meetings can also claim a lot of your time. A helpful tip is to adopt a “no agenda, no attendance” policy:

If the meeting host doesn’t share an agenda beforehand that makes it clear what the meeting is about and what they need, I don’t attend.

Tip 4. Trust in the team you’ve built

When I started GCP Central, the company was still small and I was able to manage most of the tasks myself. And as I was responsible for the build of the myGCP learning system and the learning method, I know all features of the system by heart.

Transferring that knowledge to team members takes time, requires training, needs documentation of processes, and in turn, lots of meetings. It’s tempting to solve a problem myself since I know what to do and sometimes explaining takes more time than solving it. But in the end, that doesn’t help me or the team.

I believe that the critical path in growing a company is hiring people with skills that I don’t have. I am proud of my team and their skills, my job is to give them all the knowledge and facilities to excel in their jobs.

The result? Both smooth business operations and happy customers. 

5. Wind down

Managing work-life balance is tough and there have been periods of time that I worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. That had a massive impact on my energy level and my life: less time for my wife and friends.

I am lucky that I’m surrounded by people that understand my ambition and have supported me. Now that the organization has grown and I have optimized my time management skills, even more, it’s a bit better. My current “rule” is to only work on weekdays between 7am-7pm, giving me enough time in the evenings and weekends for dinner, sports, and relaxation.

Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and being active in sports are really important to me and keep me going. I play field hockey twice a week and try to go running in the forest early in the morning (goal = at least twice a week). What a great way to start your day! I highly recommend this.  What else? At least once a month I take a day off and go to the beach to focus on my personal goals. 

6. Tools to assist 

Another useful tip is to make the most of all the amazing digital tools out there, here’s a selection of my favorites.

  • Asana – Project management system (free version)
  • iPhone notes – I’m often on the road so notes is a great friend to me, The dictating function is great for when you’re driving!
  • Couldn’t live without my Google Calendar and iCal. I plan everything in blocks

So, there you have it – a week in the life of a CEO, and my top tips for staying on top of the workload. Running a business is challenging but highly rewarding, and I hope a peek into my life inspires anyone who’s thinking of starting on their own, to go for it!