What Percentage of Your Time is Spent on Strategy?

Here is an exercise worthy of your time, one that will make you more productive by helping you prioritize the projects that get your time and attention.

Through the years I have found that nearly everything you work on can fit in one of four types:

  1. Day-to-day Quick: these are the small tasks you work on that take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to complete.
  2. Day-to-day Long: these are the micro-level tasks that are not as quick or easy as #1, and are usually broken out over a number of days or weeks.
  3. Strategic – Low Level: thought-level analysis and planning for an individual project or exercise, covering a single aspect of the business or just one initiative.
  4. Strategic – High Level: like #3 above but more expansive, business- or brand-level strategy (rebranding or new business initiatives).

If you ask most people how much time they should be devoting to all four of these buckets, you will find various answers that usually involve some amount of time each week in all categories. On average, it will break out pretty evenly (25-25-25-25%).

But if you ask those same people how they actually spend their time, odds are most will say they spend much more of their time in bucket 1 than any of the others.

And while bucket 1 is important, we have to do whatever we can to make sure it does not eat up our time for buckets 2, 3, and 4.

Bucket 2 is often work we put off because we know it’s a time suck. Those are the things we know have to get done, but can’t get done today. So they’re easy to put off.

Buckets 3 and 4 are perhaps the most important, because that is how we plan and prepare for the future. That is how we grow our brands, innovate, and compete.

The best way to prioritize strategy work is to schedule it. When we don’t schedule it, its easy to put it off. “I’ll have more time for that later,” we tell ourselves, “but right now there’s this one thing I have to finish.” But when we put time for strategy on our schedules, we commit ourselves to it.

Make a goal to spend at least 20% of your time each week (that’s 1 full day in 5) to focusing on strategic projects. You will find that you are more productive, and spend more of your time working on things that will have a larger company-wide impact.