Your time is valuable. In order to successfully plan and execute work, we must intentionally use our time in a way that produces the most value. How do you determine what work you do is most valuable, and what is least valuable? Isn’t everything you do valuable at some level? Yes – but that value varies significantly. If you were asked to put an hourly value to the work you do in any given week, what do you think you would learn? 

How to determine what work is valuable to you   

Determining the least valuable work you do begins with shifting your mindset around how you approach your work. For example, look back at the last 3 weeks of your calendar. Ask yourself, “If I were to have gone on vacation, what of that work would have been completed in my absence?” Any of the work that can be completed by someone else while you are away indicates that it is work someone else could or should be doing.  

Another way to shift your mindset in how you approach your work is to look at the upcoming week, write out and separate your work into hour-long chunks, and place your work into categories of $50, $500, or $5,000. In an average week, there are tasks that return $50/hr (e.g. administrative, calendar management, etc.), $500/hr (e.g. mentoring, team development, etc.) and $5,000/hr. Is it hard to believe that your time is worth $5,000/hr? You’re not alone. Think about this through the lens of the total return of a four-hour block of your time. Most of us have items on our to-do list that we could solve – if we could just find that elusive afternoon of uninterrupted time. In many cases, the ROI on solving such a problem is recurring. Spending 4 hours to fix a recurring issue that increases the productivity of your team could easily contribute $20,000 to the bottom line over the course of the next year or two. 

Being busy vs. prioritizing productivity 

Often leaders fall into the trap of believing their value comes from being able to get as much work done as possible. Where leaders struggle in optimizing their work – particularly those of us with deep empathy for and a strong desire to serve others – is letting others step in. Mental blocks create plateaus in our work and prevent us from letting go. Common mental blocks include:  

  • Failing to value our own time in the same way that others value our time. 
  • Lack of delegation and control: Allowing our interest in certain tasks to continually draw us into tasks that could and should be done by others. 
  • Ego: Believing no one else can do the work as well as I can. (You might be right – but will anyone notice?) 
  • Servant leadership – to a fault: Not wanting to ask someone to do work I wouldn’t do myself; proving to yourself that you can do the “dirty work.” 
  • Career-limiting thoughts: If I work myself out of the work I do now, what will they need me for? 

Where do these negative thoughts come from? As leaders, we relentlessly pursue perfection in our work. A good start in overcoming these thoughts that create mental roadblocks is letting go. Being able to let go of what rationalizes plateau-inducing behavior in your work can make your work more valuable to you and others. Easier said than done, and it takes practice. 

Be conscious with your time 

Be conscious and intentional of how you value and approach your work. When was the last time you stepped back and looked at how you approach situations as a leader? Raise your level of consciousness about yourself – in order to make better decisions, have greater perspective, and to improve your ability to problem-solve. Attend the Explore Conscious Leadership workshop to become the next-best version of yourself, at work and at home.