Are Low Value Tasks Holding Us Back? You’ve conquered your email, minimized meetings and stopped answering the phone. But you still don’t seem to be getting your goals completed. Now what?
You’ve got the obvious time killers under control now and have freed up a couple extra hours per week but, of the tasks which remain, those you consider to be part of your routine, they may actually be holding you back from having a greater positive impact on your business. A 3 year research study, by London Business School and Pfizer, revealed an opportunity for further productivity improvement.¹
“We’ve spent the past three years studying how knowledge workers can become more productive and found that the answer is simple: Eliminate or delegate unimportant tasks and replace them with value-added ones. Our research indicates that knowledge workers spend a great deal of their time – an average of 41% – on discretionary activities that offer little personal satisfaction and could be handled competently by others.“
How Did We Get Here?
Our less-productive work routines have built up over time as task requests and responsibilities have accumulated from all different angles. Bosses, colleagues, customers and external events all contribute to our daily workload along with additional tasks being added to our agendas as cost cutting efforts have reduced staff over the years. With a swelling plate of responsibilities it becomes easier just to keep our heads down and trudge through, stressing the entire time about not getting our growing routines completed but not stopping to examine what it is we’re actually doing. In all of the hustle and push we either don’t realize or feel helpless to change the fact that we’re only spending a fraction of our day on high value activities.
This post provides a fun but realistic view of this continual juggling act between low value and high value tasks.
HOW DO WE GET OUT OF HERE?
1. Identify the Low Value Tasks
Review your daily tasks and answer these questions about each one:
- Does this task help achieve the long term goals of your company?
- Does this task use your core expertise?
If you answer NO to the above then you have a Low Value Task:
- Can this task be eliminated without any great impact?
If you answer NO to the above:
- Can this task with some instructions be delegated to someone else?
If you answer YES then this task can be delegated freeing up some time.
2. Define the Tasks
Delegating even low value tasks without clear direction can have negative outcomes. It may unfairly create a false scenario that the task cannot be delegated. So whether through documenting instructions, or just by having a hand off call to review the task, you will ensure the task is completed correctly.
3. Delegate the Tasks
Delegate the task to the right person or partner firm. Delegating shouldn’t be where your distraction becomes someone else’s distraction. It’s important to delegate to someone that is setup to take on these types of tasks with a process that has the strengths to execute them where it’s a core expertise rather than distraction.
Use the time gained from those tasks wisely. Perhaps you’re able to apply the gain towards personal time, towards activities requiring your core expertise, or towards a project that is important to your company’s strategy . The participants in the research study went through a similar process and many were able to gain 8 hours per week that they could use on tasks that were more important to their business or more personally/professionally satisfying.
What could you do with more time?
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