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Avoiding the least-valuable-activity trap

From: Enhancing Your Productivity

Video: Avoiding the least-valuable-activity trap

Now that you've identified your most valuable activities, let's look at the other side of the equation, your least valuable activities, or your LVAs. Think about the relationship between your MVAs and your LVAs like a glass of water. An empty glass isn't empty, it's filled with air. This is the equivalent of your LVAs. As we fill the glass up with water, your MVAs, it becomes more valuable and it leaves less and less room for air, your LVAs.

Avoiding the least-valuable-activity trap

Now that you've identified your most valuable activities, let's look at the other side of the equation, your least valuable activities, or your LVAs. Think about the relationship between your MVAs and your LVAs like a glass of water. An empty glass isn't empty, it's filled with air. This is the equivalent of your LVAs. As we fill the glass up with water, your MVAs, it becomes more valuable and it leaves less and less room for air, your LVAs.

As you spend more time in your MVAs the amount of time available for your LVAs decreases. However, most people are spending the majority of their time in their least valuable activities, naturally decreasing their value. We want to gradually increase the amount of MVAs over time, so that in the end, you have hardly any time at all for these least valuable activities. But LVAs are very powerful in their pull. It's much easier to spend your time doing least valuable activities.

Most anyone can do them and most anyone is willing to do them. These are small mundane tasks. The simple things like running errands at the store or printing out copies and watching the printer roll. Even attending meetings can be an LVA if the meeting doesn't have an important purpose. These kinds of activities take very little energy and effort. Contrast that with common MVAs, like building high-level relationships with partner companies, or developing a long -term marketing strategy, these most valuable activities take more energy, effort and skill.

Here are a couple of tools to help you recognize when you're falling into a least valuable activity trap and how to get yourself out. The first is to continually ask yourself the question, what is the value of this activity? This awareness will start to create a desire in you to not get sucked into these LVA traps. You may even want to keep track in your calendar of the value of each activity which you perform, just make a note of what you think each activity is worth in terms of dollar per hour.

Next, we want to ask the question, why am I doing this activity? The why question will help you identify how you got into that LVA trap. Perhaps you just drifted into it or maybe the task was delegated to you. Many people don't reach their career goals, because they allow themselves to get blown around in the wind of the day. Rather than making conscious decisions about what they're doing with their time, they become purely reactive to requests from coworkers and events around them.

We need to become strategic about how to serve both others and our career and that leads us to the third tool, which is to build a strategy to get out of LVA traps. In the next video, I'll help you build that strategy step-by-step. Remember, it may take more effort to stay out of these least valuable activities, but the more you fill up your glass with MVAs the less room you'll have for LVAs and the more valuable you'll become.

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Enhancing Your Productivity

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Dave Crenshaw
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