The 3 Kinds of Work (including 2 you should be doing less of)

There are three kinds of work you do a regular basis.

First, there’s work that gets immediate results. It might be actually delivering the service you provide or creating the product you sell. It could be writing on your blog or updating product descriptions. It could be ordering supplies or promoting your work.

Second, there’s work that should be done by someone else. This varies depending on your business and your strengths within that business. It could be fiddling with your website, sending out emails, or scheduling clients. It could be writing copy or creating advertisements. It could be shipping packages or bookkeeping.

Third, there’s the work that contributes to long-term growth. Often this is work that requires your expertise but that isn’t the hands-on work that you sell. It’s systems work. It’s process work. It’s relationship building. It’s working on the vision (and the byproducts of it).

You probably do a lot of the first and second kind of work. You are constantly after immediate results (they feel good, right?) because immediate results are better than no results. And you do a lot of work that you really have no business doing because you have chosen not to invest the time or money in having someone else do it.

That means that the work that contributes to long-term growth gets the short shrift. When you don’t work towards the future, you leave yourself in the hamster wheel of constant hustling. Sound familiar?

…while you’re doing it, doing it, doing it, there’s something much more important that isn’t getting done. And it’s the work you’re not doing, the strategic work, the entrepreneurial work, that will lead your business forward, that will give you the life you’ve not yet known.
— Michael E Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited

If you’re beginning to lose faith in the dream of having a business that takes care of you (instead of you taking care of it), then it’s probably because you find yourself doing so much of the first two categories of work. When that type of work is disproportionate to the results you see, frustration is the natural byproduct.

When you exercise your responsibility to long-term growth work, even if you’re not seeing immediate results, you can better weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. If a particular idea doesn’t work out, you have the systems or relationships in place to get you through. Or you have the comfort of knowing your next idea or opportunity is already in the works.

If you’re ready to do more long-term growth work and less of the rest, you need to schedule it. Put it on the calendar. Honor it like it was a client appointment or a project deadline. This is the work that will keep your business in business – respect it.

Once you’ve got that kind of work on the calendar, make sure that you’re creating systems that reduce the amount of other work you’re doing. Use your scheduled time to create a training or on-boarding process for an assistant or business manager. Also use that time to plan for new products or services that require less effort or active time from you. Plan to shift your business model to one that leverages your time & talents.

Bottom line: how would you spend your time if doing work that contributed to long-term business growth was your primary responsibility?

‘Cause it is.

– PS –

Kick Start Labs designed a brand-new Lab to help you get out of this rut and into strategic product development. It’s call Product Development 101. It’s available for a limited time on its own or as part of a Kick Start Labs membership. Click here for more info.

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19 comments on “The 3 Kinds of Work (including 2 you should be doing less of)

  1. Linda Gordon says:

    I swear you are in my head.

    My buddy Jenn has been nagging me to get off my duff and find some help. So, I finally created an online application and I found two people with the right set of skills to assist me with my new home decor line. Giving out work and depending on someone to give the same attention to detail and speed to your products is hard to do, but it is hard to pull myself in so many directions when I could be focusing on the most important parts of my business.

    thanks Tara…I needed this!

    The Twisted Cow

  2. This really connected with me today, especially because I’m just starting my business and feeling impatient for the SALES. But I realize that putting the systems in place BEFORE the sales come will save my sanity later… I am a visual artist/illustrator, and of course, I can’t sell my prints OR communicate my vision without artwork. So, thinking about how working toward long-term success looks for me, would you say that putting more time into developing a unique style and philosophy in my work is more important than just cranking out the work? And I have a creeping feeling that translating all of my “about” stuff into German (since I live in Germany!) is another essential to relationship-building and longevity that needs to be addressed instead of put off again and again. Thanks, Tara, for giving me something to think about!

  3. Laurence says:

    1, 2, 3… all very obvious, but it’s always good to have what you (probably), know reinforced from outside sources. In the day to day running of businesses/lives etc. you can easily get distracted and become less productive. Keeping your eye on great information from good sources like this is invaluable. After all you can’t get too much motivation can you?

  4. Marcos Baker says:

    I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post.But i dislike your 3rd opinion because no one depend on
    our business