How much of your workday is spent reacting to events that happen over the hours you spend at the office? How much is spent on planning and strategy? Finally, ask yourself how much time is spent towards real problem solving, or getting to the root problems of the issues you spent the other few hours reacting to?
If you can sit down and successfully audit the amount of time you spend on a given day doing what kind of work, you'll have a better idea of where you should put your efforts, and what you can expect your average day to look like.
Over at the blog The 99 Percent, Scott Belsky explains that most of our workdays are broken into five distinct types of work: reactionary work, planning, procedural work, insecurity and problem solving. He argues that most of us spend the bulk of our day doing reactionary things, like responding to incoming emails, addressing new priorities and fighting fires. Insecurity, he points out, is work we do to allay our own fears about our jobs or our company — looking up statistics to make sure the company's healthy, brushing up our resumes, looking at job boards and playing office politics in case we want a transfer into a new department.
He tries not to pass judgement on any of those types of work, but instead encourages us to audit our workday and get a feel for how much time we spend on each area, and whether there's anything we can do to adjust our day so we put more effort where we want it to go. For example, a manager may want you to spend most of your day doing real problem solving and root cause analysis, but doesn't hesitate to load you up with reactionary, fire-fighting duties instead. Auditing your day will help you prepare, but also help you justify how you spend your time.
Do you audit your day, or keep track of how much time you spend doing what? Share your average workday in the comments below.
The 5 Types of Work That Fill Your Day [The 99 Percent]