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We’re All Wasting Our Time

Feb 4, 2019 | Blog

How you allocate your time is probably the most crucial factor in your own performance and that of your organisation. Yet we pay scant attention to understanding, analysing and altering this part of our working lives.

It is an indisputable fact of business that we are all wasting our time.

We are doing things we don’t need to do; spending time on areas which could be delegated to others; and not achieving laser like focus on where we add the most value and make a difference. It is worse than that – most of us don’t even know how much time we are spending and on what ! 


How CEO’s Spend Their Time


A Harvard study analysed 60,000 CEO hours by getting Executive Assistants to code their boss’s time in 15 minute segments. The results, which are below, surprised the CEOs involved and led to nearly all making changes to their schedules.


Get Laser Like Focus

In our executive coaching, we see the “wrong focus” or “distraction” as a major barrier to success for many of the clients we work with.

We strongly urge clients to carry out an audit of how they spend their time and then consider what changes they can make to be better aligned to their strengths and to delivering their personal and business goals.

To be more effective often we need to spend more time face to face with our key direct reports; more time on our agenda for change; more time delegating; and more and more alone time to reflect and analyse.

We need to spend less time reacting; less time on email; have shorter meetings (are you guilty of scheduling most of your meetings for an hour); and challenge the time spent on things which have become“must do’s”

The Scourge of Emails


We are also need to become evangelical about tackling the scourge of email. Executives now spend 28% of their working day reading and replying to emails. (Source: McKinsey). We check our inbox 15 times a day. That takes 2.6 hours and on average amounts to receiving 120 messages. Even more worrying is that it is not just the time you spend in your inbox that takes you away from the present. It takes 23 minutes to get your mind back into the moment after an Inbox rummage.

Time is, of course, money. How we spend it is either a barrier to success or the key to achievement.

It is about time we spent more time seriously considering how we spend our time.

Atholl Duncan is an Executive Coach.