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CFOs Are Burning the Midnight Oil, Survey Shows

Chief financial officers are seeking a little relief. In a new survey by Robert Half Management Resources, 36 percent of CFOs said if they could change one thing about their current position, they would work fewer hours.

Less meetings and more forgiving deadlines — two other time-oriented answers — were the next most frequently cited responses, at 17 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

CFOs were asked, “If you could change one thing about your current position, what would it be?” Their responses:

– Work fewer hours 36%
– Reduce the number of meetings attended 17%
– Extend tight deadlines 12%
– Improve relationship with boss 7%
– Spend less time traveling 4%
– Increased salary 3%
– Other 7%
– Nothing 8%
– Don't know/no answer 6%

“CFOs don't have the luxury of time, yet it clearly ranks as the top priority on their professional wish list,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “New demands are adding to their already busy schedules, including accelerated SEC filing deadlines, regulatory compliance requirements and strategies to optimize business growth after a period of economic uncertainty.”

McDonald suggests executives adhere to a number of proven time-management strategies:

– Delegate judiciously. Strike a balance between the tasks you feel comfortable assigning and those that require your direct involvement, such as overseeing the preparation of financial reports and, for public companies, certifying financial statements. Realize you can't do it all, and be willing to delegate less-pressing projects to trusted team members who can competently assume the responsibility.

– Conduct an audit of your time. If your schedule seems to be controlling you, track how you spend an average workday. Consider how you might rely further on your staff for tasks and activities. For example, if appropriate, have your assistant respond to standard email requests on your behalf and manage your schedule for daily meetings and conference calls.

– Evaluate your resources. Determine if your organization is adequately staffed to meet current business demands. If you don't have enough people in the right places, consider arranging for other departments to reallocate staff for mission-critical projects. Assess whether additional full-time or project employees are needed to manage workloads.

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