Do you spend your time on what adds most value?

Earlier this week, I met with a client – let’s call her Julia – who felt that she’d lost her focus at work. Knowing that she wanted to address this in her next session, I had previously asked her to record how she spent her time over the previous fortnight.

She listed 10 activities – you can see them in the table below.

I then asked her to rank them 1 to 10 where 1 was the activity on which she had spent the most time and 10 was the activity on which she spent the least time. You can see that she’d spent most time planning and executing campaigns and least developing new uses for existing products.

Next, I asked her to rank them according to preference: number 1 being her favourite activity, number 10 being her least favourite: top of the list was marketing strategy and right down at the bottom was producing internal communications.

Lastly, I asked her to rank them according to which she believed added most value to the business. Again, marketing strategy topped the list whilst event attendance just beat internal comms to the bottom spot.

Activity Time Preference Value
Marketing strategy 6 1 1
Plan and execute campaigns 1 8 5
Team management 2 7 6
Budget control 8 3 2
Event attendance 3 9 10
External relationships 7 4 7
Internal relationships 5 6 8
New product launch 9 2 3
Production of internal communications 4 10 9
Develop new uses for existing products 10 5 4

‘What conclusions do you draw from this?’ I asked her.

‘My first instinct is that I need to spend a lot more time on marketing strategy. Looking at this, I can see that it’s the tactical work – the planning and execution of the campaigns – that’s getting in the way. I used to love that stuff but actually, I need to hand it on to another member of the team. It’s the perfect opportunity for her to progress and add value and will free me up.

‘Also, I need to devote much more time to budget management. To do that, I think I’ll find a new home for the internal communications work. We have a junior marketing exec who has just joined: he could team up with a more senior one and they could handle this together,’ replied Julia.

‘Whose support do you need?’ 

‘Well, my boss, firstly. Actually, what I really need to do is to sit down with her and talk through this table and check that she agrees with where I can add most value. Then we can take it from there. I feel much clearer about where my focus should be.’

Julia is meeting with her manager on Friday to have that discussion.

clock do you spend your time on what adds most value do you waste time productivity management

Coincidentally, I was catching up via Skype with another client and he mentioned that he and his wife have just used this exercise to plan their Christmas activities with their family. They realised that whilst they thought it was a real adventure to go into London to see a Christmas show, their children found the journey very tiring and sometimes fell asleep halfway through which seemed a shame for such an expensive outing. This year, they are opting for the local pantomime and inviting the grandparents to come with them. As a family, this seemed to tick several boxes in terms of preference and value whilst saving time.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: could the time/preference/value exercise help you regain your focus?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’re ready to make progress, why not email me to see how we can work together?




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