Management & Organization

Create more time for the important work

A week consists of 168 hours. A part of it is spend by sleeping, some is used on working, relaxing and being with family and friends. Unfortunately, way too much time is spent on unimportant things. Things, you don't need to do and could be delegated to others or changed.

If you'd like your 168 hour to be more efficient, then use this method for sorting your work tasks, to gain more time for the important stuff.

The two researchers, Julian Birkinshaw and Jonathan Cohen, have looked in to what it is that makes us productive and what stops us. And their research show that, often, the problem is that we spend our resources on the wrong things.

When they asked a group of leaders to identify which assignments meant the most to them and their organization, and to drop or delegate the rest, it released among the 15 leaders up to 20 % of their workday for more important tasks.

The method consists of five steps:

  1. Identify low-value tasks.
    1. Which tasks are unimportant to you and the company?
    2. Which tasks are relatively easy to drop, delegate or outsource?
  2. Decide, if the assignment should be dropped, delegated or redesigned.
    Sort the assignments into three categories:
    1. Quick kills. Things you can stop doing without negative consequences.
    2. Delegate opportunities. Tasks that can be delegated with a small effort.
    3. Long-term redesign. Tasks that needs a new structure or change.
  3. Delegate assignments.
    Can be the most difficult thing to do, but it's worth the trouble. For instance, the researchers report on one executive who experienced that a coworker was grateful for getting extra assignments.
  4. Distribute freed time.
    Write down what three things you ought to be doing, but you aren't capable of getting done. And use a logbook to keep an eye on whether you are spending your time right.
  5. Commit to your plan.
    1. Share your plan with your boss, coworker or mentor. Explain, what tasks you are dropping and why, and agree to discuss what you have achieved in a few weeks. Just saying it out loud gives you a sense of responsibility towards the plan. The person you share it with, might even help you move on. For instance, your boss might suggest who you can delegate one or more assignments to.

Read more about this topic here, where you also find a free online tool that can identify the unnecessary tasks.