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The French are very productive people, in fact the French are some of the most productive people on the planet. According to an article based on an infographic sourced from the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), France is ranked in the top 5 most productive countries in the world. Many very large companies, such as Total, Axa or Airbus developed and prospered in France.

To run these companies, highly effective CEOs have been nominated to handle the duty and obligations that comes with the position. Being the CEO of a very large company is not an easy role every day, and staying focused while juggling between topics and responsibilities can become overwhelming.

So here are the productivity tips that top French CEOs shared with Challenges, a french weekly business magazine, that you can use to stay focus on what is important.


Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of Total is a prioritizing advocate: “As a CEO you don’t have time not to be focused, you need to be constantly at full capacity.” He only gets distracted when something more important comes to his mind.

In order to prioritize like a CEO, you need to do what needs to be done immediately, such as all the small quick tasks that can clutter with your planning. Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis, says that choosing your rhythm and tempo is essential, so you can take action on what needs to be done and let the long and tedious tasks or subjects flourish in your mind.

Track your time

Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, world leader in dairy products, holds a very tight schedule. Everything is planned to the minute. This might seem a little extreme but that’s his way of giving a 100% of himself to his collaborators from beginning to end of every meeting, no matter how long they last.

Small meetings

Carlos Tavarez, CEO of Peugeot Citroen, also carefully plans his days, but he also established a routine: every day starts and ends with dealing with emails, while the rest of the day is for meetings.

But he’s got more in his sleeve. In order to have more fruitful meetings, he invites only key collaborators in his office: “ I want people to have a clear goal in mind for every meeting”. So there is no time wasted and all involved quickly engage into what really matters.

Step back

Sometimes you need to disconnect to let your mind rest from all that is going on, the big decisions, and other concerns. Catherine Coupet, CEO of Up Group, like to let her mind go by watching the landscapes on her weekly train ride for about 5 hours.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, CEO of Essec, one of the leading business schools in europe, enjoys reading something completely different from his work, so he can step back and reflect.

Take aways

So there are a few take aways we can gather from the top French executives:

  • Carefully plan your days while having your priorities in mind, don’t lose track of time, and stick to your schedule.
  • Concerning meetings, invite only people who really have a say in the matter, and make sure every meetings have a clear purpose.
  • Don’t forget to step back from time to time, to give you perspective and clear your head.

This post was inspired by an article published on Challenges, a French Economic magazine.

Team Azendoo
Product Manager at Azendoo. I enjoy tech, building software, and football.
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