About the Project

Time management is essential for an Executive. As Peter Drucker puts it, “Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.” Our goal is to go beyond selective case studies and collect systematic evidence on how corporate leaders organize their working time, how this is determined by the constraints faced by the firm and how it affects the performance of their firms. Our dataset will also help individual leaders to benchmark their time management against that of their peers, nationally and globally. Ultimately, the Time Use Survey is a simple tool that allows top corporate leaders to align their use of time with their growth strategies.

What data do you collect?

We select a random observation week, from Monday to Friday. We collect information on all the work activities of the Executive that last over ten minutes. In case of meetings, we record the function of the people involved (but not their names).

Executives are busy people: how do you collect the data?

The data is not collected through Executives but through their personal assistants or executive assistants. After the Executives give us authorization, we only interact with their assistants. The project only requires a few minutes of the Executive’s time for the authorization, and a few minutes a day for week of the assistant’s time. We offer friendly, reliable assistance in case there are problems.

I’m an Executive: why should I participate in your survey?

We will provide you free and confidential feedback on your time use patterns and how it compares to your peers. CEOs attending Harvard Business School executive courses have found this feedback extremely useful.

What can business leaders learn from this research?

Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone International writes: “Knowing how CEOs spend their time can tell us a lot about management styles and, ultimately, it could help us analyze differences in cultures and performances. I also believe that the study can be extremely beneficial for the CEOs themselves. Personally, when I heard about your work, I felt the need to get data on my own time use and I decided to analyze the last six months of my agenda.”

Is the data confidential?

Absolutely. We will never divulge the identity of individual participants, nor will we provide enough information to identify, directly or indirectly, the companies they work for. All data collected is saved in anonymous form in password protected servers at the Harvard Business School.

How many CEOs have you surveyed so far?

Over 1200 CEOs have participated to this project in medium and large companies based in Britain, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, the United States, and other countries.