Repeating tasks are a waste of your time. Find the underlying cause. Prevent repeats by bringing in better systems. Ask why, maybe the five whys, until you get to the root cause. Even when a customer is involved you can still find better ways of working. Find ways to get repeating tasks done quicker.
- Any repeating problem is a waste of you, and it would be worth investing some time to identify the cause of the problem and then fix it. Any repeating task is always a waste of you. Is there a way to automate it or at least to find a quicker way to do it? If you're a manager then, everything that repeats should have a routine solution set up so that you can delegate this to someone else to free you up for creative tasks. If it's not creative, then it's a waste of you as a manager.
Anything non-creative can be systematized and that is a word. I'll give you an example. I had a customer who was managing director of a company making windows and the window installation kits. That's all the screws and stuff that go with them to the building site. Of course, all the time the builders on site would break or lose one of the catches or screws and they would then pinch one from the new kit that had just arrived, and then they would claim that it was missing from the new kit.
So, the call would come into the company saying the kit was incomplete, and the managing director, why him I'm not sure, was spending a few hours every day dealing with these calls. Clearly, he needs to set up a system where the problem can be dealt with by someone less senior and expensive. He could empower his secretary to just send a replacement screw. They don't cost much. Or better, he could set up a system to stop it happening. Maybe color code the screws so they couldn't be moved to a different window, or get the kits inspected and signed off when they arrive on site, or just send spares with every kit if the cost is minimal.
Whatever the solution is, he needs to sort this trivial problem which is costing him hours a day, hours, when he could be planning the future of his company. So, the hierarchy is first to prevent problems happening in the first place. If you can't do that, then automate them or delegate them so that you don't use up any time on them, and if they're really unavoidable, maybe you can find a way to do repeating things quicker by having a better process. A great way to get the bottom of process problems is to ask, why, more than once.
For example, why was the customer unhappy? Well, because he had to wait for two weeks for a new part. But why did he have to wait two weeks? Maybe because the part was out of stock, but why was the part out of stock? Perhaps because it didn't get reordered when we used up the last one. At which point, you might tempted just to reprimand whoever didn't reorder it, but no, keep digging, keep asking why, so that you can dig deeper to the cause. Why didn't the person reorder it? Well, because the computer didn't show it was out of stock.
Well why not? Because we don't always record when we use stuff. Aha, now we're getting to the root of the problem, and we can fix it by making sure that people can't use stuff without it being recorded, or by making one person responsible for keeping the records of what gets used. Always think, why did it happen? And then fix it so it won't keep happening. This applies to any repeating problem, whether it's a customer, whether it's an organizational problem like phone calls which come through to the wrong person.
Can we have a better phone list? Can the person who puts them through be trained? Whether it's an IT problem, or a problem with another department. Even the time you spend looking for trivial things like a pen or scissors. Get hundreds of pens and spread them around the office. It'll cost nothing and it'll solve the problem. Get a pair of scissors for each person, or put them on a piece of string, but at least have a system so that you'll always be able to find a pair. The thought process should always be that any repeating problem is a waste of you.
I have a friend who regularly phones me to ask if I have someone's number and then he dials it but he doesn't store it. So a few weeks later he phones me again to get the number of the same person. It's a repeating problem that would pay him to fix it once and for all and get everyone's number stored in one place. So, what are your repeating time wasters? Then first, can you set up an improved system to stop them happening at all? Second, can you make dealing with them into a routine so that you can then delegate it? Third, if not, can you set up a system so that you don't have to think about how to sort it out? So that you can do it quicker and with less mental effort.
The most efficient people use technology and established systems of organization to manage their tasks and maximize their time. This course shows how to put these time management techniques to work for you.
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- Managing your inbox
- Managing repetitive tasks
- Using lists and calendars
- Maximizing spare time
- Organizing information digitally and on paper
- Getting the most out of technology and software
- Writing effective email
- Reducing filing