Most of us could stand to be happier and more productive in our work lives. Our work lives tend, though, to accumulate tasks and responsibilities gradually, over time. We become set in routines that we needed at one time, but now not necessary. Many of these tasks are unproductive. We dread them. We put them off. We spend more time worrying about having to get them done that doing them.
Our work routines require regular maintenance. Here’s one routine maintenance that can make you happier and more productive:
Take an inventory of the regular tasks you perform over a week, or even a month. What discrete pieces of work do you regularly complete? Then, divide those work items into two columns: those you find to be exciting, interesting or charge you up; and those you hate, that drain you, and that you find yourself avoiding.
Now, look closely at the tasks on the negative side of the ledger. It is likely that some of the things you do were added to the list out of some time-bound necessity or have proven not to be as successful or needful as you first hoped. Delete those items. Just stop doing them. Like going through the apps on your phone and deleting the ones you do not use frees up memory, deleting tasks that are unproductive or unimportant frees up time. Deleting even one or two tasks a week, especially if they are ones that drain you, can make a significant impact on your life.
Look again at your ledger, both sides of it. Chances are that some of the tasks that you perform were added to your list some time ago. The world we live in today changes at a dizzying pace. New apps and automations are sprouting up all of the time. Sites like IFFTT and Zappier let you design your own automations. When they say: “There’s an app for that,” they are not kidding. Do some research on the tools that are available and automate your mundane tasks. Automate as many as possible. You will be glad you did.
The tasks you have remaining on the negative side of your list are those that are too important to delete and cannot be automated, at least not by you. For your final bit of housekeeping, see if you can delegate any of those tasks. One great bit of hiring advice is to hire people whose skills and personalities complement, rather than duplicate, your own. Just because you find a task to be boring or dreadful doesn’t mean that another person in your office will not enjoy it, or at least not mind it. You are not limited to delegating internally, either. Today’s freelancer market is thriving. You may be able to find someone on a site like Fiverr for smaller tasks, hire someone you know who is looking for a side-hustle, or even hire a consultant if it is a larger task.
In any case, delegate what you cannot automate or delete, and spend your time on the high-value activities that are the most productive and important. Chances are, these are the tasks on the positive side of your list. If they are not, maybe it is time to buy What Color is Your Parachute, and figure out how to change that.