It’s actually a matter of professional life or death to get rid of your low-value work tasks that mean little or nothing to your end customers (patients) or colleagues.
In the past, time management experts would recommend that you divide up your work into A tasks, B tasks, and C tasks. The concept was to do the A tasks first, then the B tasks, then the C tasks, when you can get to them. If priorities changed, you just changed the order of your As, Bs, and Cs. Doing all aspects of a job seemed possible then, if you just followed some basic time management rules.
That kind of thinking ended during the recession of 2007-2009. Between January 2008 and February 2010, 8.8 million jobs were lost. Although the jobs went away, much of the work didn’t. No matter the job, everyone ended up with a lot more work. And although there have been real gains in productivity since then, the days of A, B, and C tasks are over. Overwhelmed is the new normal.
Take an active approach. Design a new, do-able job for yourself. Here’s when to do it:
- When you start a new job, you have a fresh perspective on what has to be done and you can see the low-value work more easily. Take a look at everything on your plate. Propose three-month goals to your manager, getting rid of as many useless tasks as you can.
- When more responsibility is added to what you already do, you have an opportunity to restructure your work and present your plan. Offer choices to your manager: “Should I lead this task considering it will take approximately 20% of my time? Or, should I…?”
- When you have done an amazing job of something and everyone is celebrating, it’s a great time to ask for something. Ask for help reducing your low-value work from your company’s productivity unit or IT gurus.
And here’s how to do it:
- Vote it off the island. Another approach is to ask your clients & colleagues if you cannot do something. The idea is simply to stop doing something that isn’t important, but to check first so that it doesn’t get you into trouble.
- Automate it. If it’s low value, it’s easy to automate. Find any IT solutions around that can be of help. Whether you are talking about project tracking, content digitization, QC or publishing, there are simpler cloud based applications that you could use.
- Write your own rules. Limit what you are going to do and then make sure people know your rules. It will save hours of time.
It’s your job, after all. Make it work for you. And stop doing that low-value work.