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Your success at work depends in large part on your ability to be selective with your activities. Think of your success like a hot air balloon. Every activity that you perform, whether it's valuable or not, is one more sandbag, one more piece of weight to the balloon. If you have your workday balloon loaded up with 15 or 20 different kinds of activities, you're going to find it very hard to get off the ground. If we can get your workday down to just four or five different activities, two of those being your most valuable activities, then you're going to find it much easier to succeed and increase your value per hour.
But how can we trim these activities down, especially if you work for someone else and it's expected that you perform these activities? First, let's look at what not to do. Most people when trying to get rid of activities follow what I call the order of abdication. Abdication means to get rid of things, to give them away and hope that they never come back again. You're essentially just trying to toss it out the window and imagine that it doesn't exist.
The order of abdication goes like this. Number one, you realize that you don't have enough time to get everything done. Number two, you adopt technology or some tool or maybe even hire someone to help you get more things done. Number three, you realize that the tool can't solve your problem, which takes you to number four, you get rid of the tool and number five, you start over at step one. Many professionals waste a lot of time and money in the order of abdication, repeating this process over and over.
Instead, I would like to offer you the order of offloading as an effective alternative. The first step in the order of offloading is to improve your personal systems. Get as personally efficient, organized and responsible as you can. The best process that I can possibly recommend to improve your personal systems is to go through the Time Management Fundamentals course here on lynda.com. The second step is improving the business systems.
These systems include the processes, procedures and the organizational structure of the business. How well documented are the systems in your business? Do people know what they're supposed to be doing and do they know it by heart? Are you an expert in the systems of your day-to-day work activities? Mastery of business systems yields a lot of extra time and helps you spend less time in the least valuable activities. Step three in the order of offloading is to use the best technology available.
The most basic example is the computer that you're using. If your computer is older than five years, odds are, it's slowing you down and causing you to spend much more time than necessary in your LVAs. A 2% slowdown in your productivity, due to a computer running slow, a printer giving you difficulty, or repeated network outages, can equal an entire lost work week every single year. Also consider the office supplies that you're using.
If you use a 3 hole punch regularly and it's not working properly, then investing in a higher-quality tool will save you time in the long run. Usually, small investments in technology can yield huge dividends in productivity. Step four, is outsourcing. It's a good idea to begin with outsourcing or temporary help first, because it let's you test what your needs are before making a long-term commitment to hire. Hiring comes last.
If you follow the order of offloading in the sequence I've given you, at this point you will have established all of the systems and put all of the tools in place for a new hire to succeed. I found that professionals, who follow this process, make themselves much harder to replace.
This course is one of a series of five Dave Crenshaw courses based on his Invaluable teaching methodology for professional development.
- Discovering your most valuable activities
- Focusing by offloading tasks that weigh you down
- Enhancing productivity around the office
- Eliminating distractions