5 Signs You Aren’t Spending Your Time Wisely at Work

The plague forced many workers to adapt how they’re working. Some of us work remotely, others combine personal and remote work, and for those of us whose work cannot be done remotely, our environment has been altered to improve safety.

While we think about how we work, it’s also a good time to consider what Work we do. Non-promotional tasks (NPTs) are important to the organization but do not advance the career of the person doing them.

Tasks like filling out for a fellow outreach, serving on a DEI committee, or polishing a PowerPoint presentation for a fellow. Everyone needs to do some NPTs but when you do more of them than your peers, your career can stall. This is because NPTs steal time from work that will be important to your promotion.

So how do you know if you’re doing too much non-promotional work? Here are five warning signs that you are not spending your time wisely:

You regret handling the task.

Maybe you were given the task and wished you were not. Or maybe you were asked, you said yes, and I wish you said no. Maybe you volunteered to do it and now you wish you were waiting for someone else to raise their hand. These are signs that you are doing tasks that you should not be doing. They may benefit your organization, but they will not help your career. Use remorse as a warning sign – you will never regret spending your time in ways that will help you succeed at work.

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief that this is your job and not theirs.

No one wants a task that comes unrewarded so people are grateful when they can get out of it! When you finish NPT, you will get a “thank you” fast! But this is it. It does not appear in your performance appraisal. The promotional work that is the core of your work and helps you succeed does not only evoke gratitude or gratitude. It produces tangible rewards like a higher salary or an amazing performance appraisal!

You envy the work your peers do.

If your colleagues spend their day at a job that is more central to the organization’s mission, then you should want those tasks as well. This type of work is rewarding and makes your co-workers pay attention and praise for their contribution. If your job falls short of these dimensions, you’re probably spending too much time on NPTs.

The tasks you perform do not require any special skills.

Almost anyone in your organization can do them. People bring different skill sets and perspectives to their organization and you want to spend your time on a job that connects to yours. You have a problem if you spend your time on routine work.

You do not have time for the work that is most important to you.

Spending your day focused on hopeless work, which distracts time from your critical work that can be promoted, is a clear warning sign. Dead end work often has shorter time horizons and promotional work usually has longer ones, so it’s tempting to fend things off with short deadlines first. But do it too often and limit your productivity over time.

If some of these warning signs apply to you, you probably are not optimizing the way you spend your time at work. Here’s how to get back on track.

First, analyze your workload to assess which tasks can be promoted and which may not. If you are unsure, seek the opinions of a co-worker or friends.

Second, identify the tasks you would like to stop doing so that you can focus more on promotional work.

Finally, talk to your supervisor – respectfully – about the gradual changes you would like to make. Define the conversation as a desire to maximize your contribution at work by better prioritizing how you spend your time.

These changes will help you spend more time on meaningful work and advance your career.

This guest post was happyREdited by Linda Beckock, Brenda Pacer, Liz Westerlund and Laurie Weingart

Are the authors of The No Club: Putting a stop to women’s dead end work


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