What Does Your Boss Do All Day?

Brett Savage

In a classic episode of The Office, Jan tasks Pam with documenting in detail what, exactly, Michael does with his time at work. Pam begins compiling a time-use diary. Michael, oblivious to the assignment, casually resists Pam's subtle suggestions to perform his typical duties, and the time log ultimately includes such inane activities as Michael doing his Bill Cosby impression, and standing in line for a free pretzel in the lobby.

This intriguing subplot raises the question—"What do bosses do with their time?"

Harvard Business School researchers adopted a similar approach for a working paper, asking the chief executives of 94 Italian companies to have their assistants record their activities. The results give us some idea of how top tier executives manage their time. Here are some interesting findings:

• The executives worked 48 hours per week and spend 60% of their time in meetings • Bosses complain about getting bogged down in day-to-day operations ("small picture stuff" in The Office) • Bosses spend only about 3-4% of their time thinking about long-term strategy • Bill Gates took regular "think weeks" to contemplate his company's future • The more time spent with employees of the firm, rather than outsiders, correlates to higher profits

Read the full article at The Economist. Or, you can read the source material here (opens PDF).