top of page

This Simple Exercise Will Help You Focus your Workload and Cut Unnecessary Tasks

Between meetings, developing employees, supporting customers, generating revenue, and managing day-to-day business needs, most managers find themselves with more tasks than there are hours in the day. While some of these tasks should or must be handled by the manager, others can be delegated or eliminated altogether.

To understand how best to focus your time, first take an inventory of what you spend your day doing. Once you understand how you’re using your time, you can determine which tasks are creating the most value, which tasks are not creating any value, and which tasks add value but can be delegated. Follow this simple but powerful exercise to begin getting control of your workload.

How to Prioritize Value-Added Versus Unnecessary Work

The purpose of this exercise is to help leaders and managers prioritize value-added and necessary work while eliminating non-value-added and unnecessary work.

This exercise works best when you have each person complete this on their own and then schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss the outcome.

Step 1: Review the definition of each type of work.

  1. Value-Added Work: Directly impacts the customer, focuses on what is important and as a result, enables us to maximize profits.

  2. Non-Value-Added Work: Does not impact the customer, takes focus away from what is important and as a result, erodes our profits.

  3. Necessary Work: Work that must be accomplished in all cases to deliver our products and services to our customers.

  4. Unnecessary Work: The work we do that results from complying with policies, procedures, systems, and controls that could likely be eliminated.

Step 2: Make a list of all the work you do.

Step 3: Categorize the list into the following:

  • Necessary & Value-Added Work

  • Necessary & Non-Value-Added Work

  • Unnecessary & Non-Value-Added Work

Step 4: For each category, determine which tasks to continue, to delegate, or to eliminate.

  • Necessary & Value-Added Work

    • Determine which tasks to delegate and which tasks to continue

  • Necessary & Non-Value-Added Work

    • Determine which tasks to delegate and which tasks to continue

  • Unnecessary & Non-Value-Added Work

    • Eliminate these tasks. If they add no value and are unnecessary, there is no reason to continue doing them. It is not uncommon to find tasks in your daily routine that fall into this category.


Managers who complete this exercise achieve three equally important benefits.

  1. Free up time to focus on the highest priority tasks. Typically, these tasks are ones that will bring the most value to the company and can only be completed by someone at a certain skill or experience level.

  2. Provide opportunities for managers to delegate work to their direct reports. This is important because it gives employees more responsibility, which helps them grow professionally and prepares them for future leadership roles. These types of tasks are usually necessary but do not need a certain skill/experience level to complete.

  3. Remove clutter by removing tasks in your daily routine that have “always been done” but no longer bring value to the business.

It is also valuable for managers to have their direct reports do this exercise, either individually or as a team. It’s a great way to slow down and refocus on what is most important.


bottom of page