Busy work can be the bane of our company’s existence, eating up tons of time and energy, and making our days evaporate while our to-do lists stay undone. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce busywork and be more productive.
What Is Busy Work?
At its heart, busy work is an activity that keeps you and your staff busy but doesn’t have too much return on your time investment. It can be the product of lack of organization, a desire to look busy and important, or conducting too many meetings. Whatever the reason, busy work often creates bottlenecks and slows down work in companies.
Ways to Avoid Busy Work
There are plenty of ways to identify and eliminate busywork. Keep your eyes out for it, and you will start to notice where it’s eating into your time. Follow these simple steps to reduce it and have a less stressful, and more harmonious and productive work environment.
1. Get Everyone on the Same Page
Good organization is the mortal enemy of busy work. Once you get everyone in your company on the same page, you can begin to cut back on unnecessary tasks. If possible, work together to develop a communal calendar of tasks. Some people are very visually motivated and find cues like color coding to be helpful. Find a system that works for you and your team and get everyone on the same page at the beginning of the week.
2. Classify Each Task
Teach your team how to quickly and effectively classify each task. Team members should learn which tasks they are responsible for and which ones they need to delegate, as well as what time frame each task needs to be completed within. People have so much busy work because they don’t know what to do with their time. Give your team full instructions, and they will work more effectively.
3. Eat the Frog
There’s an old saying that you should “eat the frog” or do the most challenging task first thing in the morning. There’s a lot of truth to this. Many people put off their demanding tasks until later, and they fill their time with busy work to procrastinate. The hardest tasks are generally the most daunting, but they are usually also the most important. Have everyone identify what their top priority is each day, and eat the frog right away.
4. Know What Your KPIs Are
KPIs or key performance indicators are the smallest possible unit that tasks can be broken down into, and they are a very effective way of splitting up big goals. Take some time to break down all of your teams’ usual tasks into KPIs and then give them the tools to track their progress effectively.
This system will accomplish two things; your team members will always know what they have to do, increasing their productivity and allowing them to feel secure in their jobs, and it will also allow you to keep better track of how the team is progressing. KPIs are perfect for those in sales environments.
5. Make Sure Your Meetings Have Agendas
Meetings eat up so much time if you don’t correctly manage them. It’s easy to go down a meeting rabbit hole and have your staff waste an hour or more of their day. Although meetings are necessary, they can be highly unproductive, so take charge of your meetings by creating specific agendas. Make sure that you circulate the plan ahead of time and stick to it completely. Your team can address any off-topic questions after the meeting is over in a one-on-one setting.
6. Stop Multitasking
Although multitasking has a strange reputation for being one of the best productivity hacks out there, it’s actually a way to increase busy work and fragment your attention between projects to not focus on one specific thing. It’s far better to focus on one item at a time entirely. When people are frazzled, they tend to multitask more, so having a more organized system can be incredibly beneficial.
Give your team the leeway to work on single projects at a time and prioritize tasks so that their focus is where it needs to be. If you find that busy work is eating up too much of your day, follow these easy steps and watch your time suddenly free up.