I Don’t Have Time

One of my clients asked me to help her find more time on her calendar. She said she no longer had the time to do the things that were important to her job or her personally. She might have expected me to review her calendar. Instead, I told her that she was failing to prioritize her work.

Most knowledge workers spend too much time on tedious tasks of minimal value. I once discovered that I was spending a lot of time preparing two reports every quarter that I thought were important. I had a feeling that the reports weren’t needed but had always been done. When no one complained when I missed a report, my suspicions were proven correct. It freed up a lot of time.

Julian Birkinshaw, a professor at the London Business School, and Jordan Cohen of Lumanity completed a three year on productivity in the workplace. They recommend we eliminate or delegate unimportant tasks and replace them with value-added ones. Knowledge workers, they say, spend an average of 41%—on discretionary activities that offer little personal satisfaction and could be handled competently by others.

The researchers found that we like to hang on to tasks that make us feel busy. It makes us feel busy. We hope that our busyness will impress our boss.

But an audit of what we do, and don’t need to do, may free up enough time so we focus on what is important.

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