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6 Tips for Managing High-Leverage Activities

Learn how to manage high-leverage activities effectively to ensure you are getting the best return on investment of your time and energy.

By Kate Dagher  •   June 16, 2022  •   8 min read

Everyone wants to have a high impact regardless of their role within a given organization. For anyone seeking to make a high impact, it’s important to spend as much time as possible on high-leverage activities. High-leverage activities are essentially tasks which have greater results than average, simple everyday tasks. 

As a leader, high-leverage activities become essential to managing your team because your actions affect many others beyond yourself. There are several strategies you can implement to invest your time into energy multipliers and achieve more desirable results for yourself and for the entire team. This article covers everything you need to know about managing high-leverage activities and motivating the entire team. 

What are high-leverage activities?

High-leverage activities are tasks which tend to have more impactful results than regular or low-leverage activities (like answering emails or organizing a meeting). High-leverage activities are therefore any kinds of activities which boost your efficiency and the effectiveness of your time, money, and professional relationships. These types of activities are what some call “energy multipliers.” This term was coined because when you leverage your skills, experience, and relationships, you can invest less time and effort to obtain desirable, outsized results. 

This is hugely related to the 80/20 rule (or the Pareto Principle), which is the notion that 80% of the effects come from only 20% of the causes. Based on this rule, the majority of the results in both your professional and personal life are owed to a mere 20% of the activities in which you take part.

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Examples of high-leverage activities 

Your high-leverage activities will differ based on your skills, experience, abilities, likes, dislikes, and even your network. Here are some examples of possible high-leverage activities: 

  • Mentoring a new employee
  • Mastering a critical tool
  • Implementing a new management system 
  • Creating and publishing original content
  • Joining a public speaking group
  • Automating repetitive work and processes
  • Taking a specialized training program
  • Building metacognitive processes
  • Investing in learning 
  • Learning a new skill or language (for example, learning how to code)
  • Pushing back on unnecessary meetings
  • Investing in personal and professional relationships

The benefits of high-leverage activities 

High-leverage activities are beneficial because they are an opportunity to reclaim both your time and energy by identifying areas you can leverage the most effectively in your work day. 

Try out our pop quiz to see if at this point in the article, you have a good understanding of what a high leverage activity is. 

Which of the following is a high leverage activity? 

  • Checking your emails
  • Creating and publishing an article
  • Organizing your desk

Steps to identify high-leverage activities

1Write down your responsibilities

Start by writing down your responsibilities to get a proper sense of how you can currently spend your time and energy. Many of us often underestimate the amount of time required to complete responsibilities and as a result, we become overworked, stressed, and rundown. Make sure to spend a few days tracking how you spend your work days and how much time is focused per task. Be wary that time seems to go by quickly when you enjoy the work that you’re doing and seems to drag on with tasks that are much less enjoyable. 

2Play to your strengths 

It’s important that you focus your time and energy especially on tasks that only you can do. It’s sometimes easier and more enjoyable to you than to other team members to complete particular tasks because these tasks are aligned more closely with your skills, experience, and interests. Because of this, your performance is often higher in a given task area than someone else’s would be. Play to your strengths and gain the ability to observe and identify other team members’ strengths as well. This way, you can align skill sets, likes, and dislikes with particular responsibilities so you’re maximizing your team’s productivity and efficiency. Doing so will allow you to determine which tasks give you the greatest return on investment (ROI). 

3Prioritize activities that provide the highest ROI

Identify and then prioritize high-leverage activities that are going to provide you with the highest ROI. In doing so, be sure that you’re selective with how many high-leverage activities you can handle at once. While these high-leverage activities provide you and your team with outsized results compared to the time and energy put in, you still only have a certain amount of hours in a day to get things done. We recommend choosing a maximum of three high-leverage activities so you can really commit to them, while delegating tasks for which others may be better suited and automating repetitive processes. 

6 ways to manage high-leverage activities  

1Time block

One way to manage high-leverage activities is to time block. The time blocking method has become an increasingly popular time management technique because of its efficacy. It’s a time management method meant to help individuals organize their workday into specific blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to completing a specific task, with the intention for the individual to stay focused on that task exclusively. Rather than acting as an open-ended to-do list, time blocking allows you to focus on a concrete schedule so there’s no question as to what you should prioritize each day, and when. This way, you know exactly how much time to spend on your high-leverage activities to optimize your time and productivity. 

2Say no to other tasks 

It is extremely important to learn how to say no—especially to low-leverage activities. If you’re being invited to meetings where you don’t think that you’ll provide any value, don’t attend. This mindset should be applied to all your activities and responsibilities. When you look at your to-do list, consider if there are any low-leverage activities and how you may be able to eliminate them from your schedule if there are. If you’re unable to completely rid yourself of a task, try to determine what the minimum amount of time is that you can spend on it. Moreover, move your low-leverage activities that you simply must do to times of the day where you feel lower in energy and require less attentiveness. 

3Work as a team 

Manage your high-leverage activities by working as a team. As a leader, you’re connected to various people throughout the organization in a different way than your employees are. Use this bird’s eye view to think about who is best suited for which tasks, who may collaborate well together, which people’s skill sets may compliment one another and ultimately, how to achieve your organizational goals in the most effective way possible. Because you may have more access to information and know more people, leverage this knowledge and insight to connect people and collaborate. Doing so will motivate and empower individuals to be brought together to achieve larger, overarching goals. 

4Delegate low-leverage activities

For leaders to be effective, they need to learn to delegate responsibilities to others. Delegate your low-leverage activities to other individuals so you can concentrate on high-leverage activities that take specialty knowledge and are a priority to you and the business. It’s much more effective to involve your team members in low-leverage activities and give them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with other parts of the business to which they perhaps have not had exposure yet. Delegating is a form of collaboration and provides a great opportunity for employees to learn from you and to feel empowered. Freeing up this time that would have been spent on low-leverage activities means the time can now be spent on crucial high-leverage activities. 

5Give your team members autonomy

Importantly, give your team members autonomy. Modern workplaces seeking to disassemble old management models of hierarchy know that by giving your team members more autonomy, you’re building trust, motivating, and supporting employees’ growth. If particular employees have proven that they’re well able to handle high-leverage activities, allow them to do so. This doesn’t mean that you have to be completely hands-off, but you can support them and check in with them as they work to complete more complex responsibilities. Highly qualified employees deserve and enjoy a high degree of freedom. They don’t need to be closely supervised and will actually perform better with more independence. Not only does this give you more free time as a manager, but it also empowers your team. 

6Create an action plan

Another way to manage high-leverage activities is to create an action plan so you can achieve them in an effective and timely manner. It’s a great idea to host a brainstorming session to create an action plan for your high-leverage activities so anyone involved is clear on their responsibilities and the time commitment associated with them. Having an action plan will help you run productive and inclusive brainstorming sessions with your team with trackable items to ensure you’re meeting your goals. Having an action plan is also a great way for your team to voice ideas, questions, concerns, and suggestions. 

Try this free Brainstorming Session Agenda:

Parting advice 

Managing high-leverage activities in an effective way will ensure that you and your team are achieving more in less time, therefore boosting your productivity. As a leader, it’s important that you feel aligned with your strengths and weaknesses so you can take on and delegate tasks in a way that optimizes your time and energy. Make sure that you identify your high-leverage activities by writing down your responsibilities, playing to your strengths, and prioritizing activities that yield the best ROI. Then, implement some of these strategies to best manage your high-leverage activities once they have been identified. Your newfound productivity will speak for itself!

P.S. The answer to the pop quiz is creating and publishing an article

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