How much Work that Matters do you really do each week?

Hmm, how much work do you do each week? Real work, that is. Work that Matters.

And what about your team? How much do they do?

It would be nice to think that most of your week was spent doing Work that Matters. Of course it won’t be the entire week as there’s plenty of stuff to do that gets in the way of good work: emails, meetings, crises, fun. But you’d think that a fair proportion of your week would be spent on Work that Matters, otherwise you’d be wasting the week. Agreed?

Well, let’s do a little experiment.

Start by writing down the number of hours you think you spend on Work that Matters. Get your team to do it too. But no colluding please. Let’s keep your estimates personal.

Pop the number in a sealed envelope.

Next, get a notebook and for at least the next week (but see below) jot down, in Roman Numeral style, every hour that you spend doing work that matters. Get your management team to do this too.

At the end of the week, tally up the number of hours that you spent doing Work that Matters. Now compare it to the number you estimated in your sealed envelope.

How does it compare?

No good? Worse than expected? Shockingly little time spent on Work that Matters?

Now, of course, is when you (and your team) remember that this week was a tricky week, what with the problems at the depot, the travel to the trade show, the…[ you can insert your own excuse in here].

Okay, so this week wasn’t a great example. That’s why we are going to extend the experiment four more weeks so that you can get a good idea of what a typical week really looks like.

And what do you think it will look like then? Same as this week?


If you are like the many, many other people who have done this exercise the number of hours that you spent on Work that Matters will be significantly less than you expected. It might even be woeful.

It’s a fact: CEOs and management teams spend just a tiny fraction of their weeks doing Work that Matters. So what if you and everyone in your management team traded just two ‘ho-hum’ hours for Work that Matters hours? It wouldn’t be hard to do but the upshot would be the equivalent of having another brain at your management table.

Now that sounds worth it.

Are you prepared to give it a go?

Julia Bickerstaff’s expertise is in helping businesses grow profitably. She runs two businesses: Butterfly Coaching, a small advisory firm with a unique approach to assisting SMEs with profitable growth; and The Business Bakery, which helps kitchen table tycoons build their best businesses. Julia is the author of “How to Bake a Business”  and was previously a partner at Deloitte. She is a chartered accountant and has a degree in economics from The London School of Economics (London University).


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