How much time do you think the average leader spends interacting with employees and customers? Forty percent? Fifty percent? A recent study outlined in Harvard Business Review reveals that it’s just 9 percent. Every leader who participated in the study was shocked by this number: They truly believed they were investing far more time in those two important areas.
To help leaders understand where they actually spend their time vs. where they think they spend their time, I’ve created a tool called the Leadership Task Log.
When leaders at Merck Canada used it to track their time, they discovered that the vast majority of it was spent — surprise, surprise — in meetings. Tracking their time helped them realize where their time was going and where it was being wasted. Getting an accurate snapshot of how they spent their workdays enabled them to prioritize their goals and make new commitments.
To get this kind of insight, start by downloading a time-tracker like Simple Time Track, Timesheet, or Klok. Then, for one week in January, track exactly how you spend your time at work. it’s crucial to be precise about your tasks so we’ve broken down the main business areas into these 14 categories:
Communications Organizational Structure H.R. Marketing Strategy/Planning Operational Meetings Email Research Reports Presentations Administrative tasks Travel Other
Remember to also log any time you spend working after-hours or on the weekend. After seven days, add up your totals in each category and then tally