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Automating Time as a CEO : An interview with Sonaya Williams

We talk to Sonaya Williams about entrepreneurial workflow, tips for CEOs, Danish work-life balance and more.

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    By James

    James has seven years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.

    Entrepreneurial workflow, tips for CEO’s, Danish work-life balance…and more

    Sonaya Williams is the founder of The CEO Partner, a digital Project Management agency that helps smart CEOs grow their business and meet their goals. Read on as Sonaya shares with us her experiences working with CEO’s, entrepreneurial tips on maximising productivity, managing emails… and more.

    Sonaya Williams

    Hi Sonaya! Please tell us a little bit more about you and The CEO Partner.

    The CEO Partner started in April 2011. I was working full time as a Sr. Financial Systems Analyst at a brokerage firm working up to 60 hours per week. I knew that I wanted to have a family; the way I wanted to raise my kids was to be available to be home after school, go on school trips. I didn’t want to have to hire someone else to raise my children. That was not going to happen in my j-o-b. I took the skill that developed in my corporate career of process development and implementation for operations systems to entrepreneurs.

    The CEO Partner logo

    What is the key to maintaining good communication with the team?

    My team is completely remote. We have 4 team members across the globe: we keep open communication channels via Slack and our project management system Plutio. There’s a weekly team meeting every Monday to sync up and get on the same page for the week, and a weekly team check-in with our Project Manager on Wednesday.

    ? The key to making a remote team work is open & direct communication, and respecting boundaries of your team members.

    What’s one ‘holy-grail’ tip you always give to CEO’s and entrepreneurs?

    After founding The CEO Partner, I soon realized that many entrepreneurs have all of their operations processes in their head, which means they deliver a different experience every time. Or they are doing everything on their own because there’s no way to train or delegate tasks to a team member. Now we also help our clients on digital project management, hiring and onboarding of administrative team members.

    The #1 tip I always give to CEO’s: Take a close look at what you‘re working on and ask yourself: is this something you can delegate or can be automated, so you are only spending your time on revenue generating activities?

    Think about how much it’s costing you to do an admin task, v.s. you delegating to a VA and paying $20/hr to execute or implement a piece of work.

    Walk us through a typical work day for you!

    I always plan my week on Sundays. It usually takes about an hour to get all setup for the week. It starts with me doing brain-dump of milestones, tasks for out client project and internal projects — the old fashion way: in a notebook.

    Our projects are managed in Plutio. After updating all the client projects and tasks, I map out my tasks around my calls into my calendar so I know when everything is getting completed.

    What’s work culture like in Copenhagen, Denmark?

    I love the work-life balance in Copenhagen — it’s like the Danes live and then work. Whereas in America, they work to live. As I’m American, that is what I am used to. There are a ton of holidays and throughout the year where the whole city is basically shut down or stores even close early in the day — which is amazing for employees.

    Sonaya Williams on Danish work-life balance

    What’s the biggest challenge for you personally to balance work and life?

    The biggest challenge for me is the time zone. As my business originally started in America, I have a majority of clients in the US. I’ve adjusted to that by having 2 night a week (Monday & Wednesday) where I work late to do client calls. This allows me to maintain client and partner relationships across the globe.

    What do digital, technology and time mean to you at this day and age?

     Time is the most expensive currency: when paired with digital and technology it is priceless.

    Make the most of your time with technology and automation. I love not having to push buttons, or pay someone to push buttons to make thing happen!

    Let’s talk emails! How many do you receive a day, and how much time do you spend in your inbox?

    I stop counting. I check my email 3 times a day. There’s a morning check-in at 9 am, midday, and before I end my day at 3 pm. Depending on what’s happening at home, I may check in as well in the evening.

    Do you follow a specific strategy? How do you use Mailbutler to leverage your workflow?

    I tried Inbox Zero, but it felt like a never-ending chase for me. I’ve learned to stop using my email inbox as a to do list, and that has changed a ton for me.

    I was looking for a way to delay emails being sent on Apple Mail. There are times when I will be working and don’t necessarily want to deliver the message to the client at that time, in order to avoid back and forth message war.

    I came across Mailbutler, and love the ability to see that my messages have been read.

    What Mailbutler feature do you recommend to CEO’s business owners that want to improve their productivity?

    Send Later is the best feature for productivity. You can go into your inbox and knock out a few emails that will send in the morning, then that’s one less thing you have to do in the morning.

    Stay connected with Sonaya Williams and The CEO Partner:

    Website / Twitter / Instagram


    To explore all of our productivity-focused interviews, check out our Workflow Series

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