Remember those days before 2007 when you could find a new job if you wanted one? Yeah. Those days are over. I’ve seen people not receive a raise since 2008. People are stuck in jobs, doing the work of 2-3 people, but can’t afford to quit because they’re living paycheck to paycheck. Forget asking about how people do with multitasking – interviewers should be asking how well people work when they’re feeling overwhelmed!
To be as productive as possible, I’ve found it is necessary to stay focused on your high value work at all times. This way you can stay as productive as possible. Although there are times when you’ll have to do the low value work [because all work needs to be done], there are times when you can actively separate the two.
The Best Time? When You Start a New Job
When you first get into a new position, you’re seeing things with fresh eyes. This lets you be able to separate the low value work away from the high value work. Take a moment to look at everything, then propose goals to your new boss to see how many useless things can be removed.
I have a friend who started a position as a clinical manager a few years ago. On the first day of his new job, his boss was explaining how they input clinical notes. There were four levels of bureaucracy required just for one person to enter one note. So he asked a question: “Why can’t the people who create the note just write it themselves on their own?”
And that one question saved $100,000 in labor costs. That’s the power of limiting low value work.
Make Changes When You Get More Responsibility
When you receive a promotion, it’s the perfect time to look at the structure of that management position. Think about every task which is being asked to be completed in a critical way. Should you be the one in charge of doing these things? Can they be delegated? Is there a third option available to you?
I would also include the times of reorganization in with this category. You know – the “changes” which occur that have the executive team saying things like, “It’s time to get lean and mean.” This transitory time shifts responsibilities from worker to worker, which means you’ve got the chance to propose cutting low value work.
Great Success Means Great Rewards
Sometimes the best way to get rid of the low value work is to knock an idea out of the park with your high value work. When you have great success come your way, then you have the perfect opportunity to ask for something. Instead of an extra sick day or a boost in pay [both important, by the way], maybe consider asking for some of the low value busy work to be removed from your plate. Making life easier at work doesn’t add dollars to your paycheck, but it does reduce stress from your life.
There are a number of ways you can make sure you’re spending more time on your high value work. You can automate your low value tasks as much as possible. Delegation may be possible. You can be like me and just create your own rules to avoid doing that low value work. If it has to be done, then block of a specific segment of time on your calendar each week to do nothing but low value work – and only do it during that period of time.
Staying focused on high value work will make you more productive from an overall standpoint. It’s your job, so design a plan of action to make it work for you. How do you stay focused on high value tasks? I’d love to hear some of your ideas that help to keep you productive