Important Work or Busy Work? Leaders Should Focus on Growth.

Sales & Growth
Vision & Strategy

Every leader has important work and busy work to do.

Important work is made up of the items that push you and the business forward. It should take you out of your comfort zone and push you.

Sometimes it’s hard to do. You find yourself struggling and wanting (desperately) to distract yourself with those urgent items… the busy work and fires that constantly seem to come up.

It’s easy to accept that distraction and do the busy work. To stay there. It’s comfortable.

But if you stay in the comfort zone, you never grow. Those fires and busy work will always be there. It’s one of the truths of the universe – busy work will always take up all the available time.

We don’t make true progress doing busy work. We don’t build momentum. Yes, we’re getting sh*t done. That feels good. But where is the growth?

The Growth Zone

Getting good at staying in the growth zone is a skill. Focus is a muscle and learning to keep it in the face of discomfort takes practice. For most of us, we get into the growth zone, then pull back, then get back into it, then pull back.

That’s ok. If it’s a skill, we can get better at it. We can make that muscle stronger.

Here’s how:

  1. Book time in your calendar for focused time. Block in the hard work that will drive your business forward.
  2. Start with shorter blocks – 1 to 2 hours, once or twice a week.
  3. Remove all distractions during that time.  No email, phone, social media.
  4. Celebrate your wins and the progress you’re making.  Consider having a peer group or thinking partner to celebrate with.
  5. As the blocks get easier, increase their length.

Busy Work vs. Important Work

So, now you know how to structure your day to get in the growth zone. But what kind of work should you be focused on?

Many of the things we do daily aren’t necessarily a job for a CEO, but something that became a habit – perhaps from your early days when you were staying lean and handled all the finances, right down to paying the rent. Step away from your desk and consider the following list – is your time better spent in the left column, or the right?

Busy WorkImportant Work
  • Email
  • Social media management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Invoicing, paying bills
  • Day-to-day operations
  • Basic customer service functions
  • That one client request that seems easier to do yourself…
  • Developing your vision
  • Systematizing processes
  • Exploring new tools to create efficiency
  • Strengthening your unique value proposition
  • Developing your corporate culture
  • Launching that new program you’ve been discussing…

Enhance Your Growth Work

Understanding your own personal focus/energy clock can help you make the most of your important work. We all have different times of day where we have the most energy and creativity. That’s when you want your focus time scheduled for, not your email time.

What’s your best tip for getting the hard, uncomfortable stuff done? Head over to my LinkedIn post to discuss.

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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