If you make a habit of asking yourself on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, “how much of what I’m doing is completely necessary and how much of it is just busywork?” You will find the number of unnecessary things that you are engaging in drastically reduce.
It is very easy to mistake the nice to haves for absolutely must-haves, so easy in fact that people often end up not being able to get on with the must-haves, the non-negotiables because they spend all their time engaging in the nice to haves. They are nice, more pleasant to do, and that’s wonderful, but that stuff (the nice to haves) has to come after the must-haves. It is really quite simple.
Separate the essentials from everything else and eliminate the busywork
So I have a process, a process that I go through, a system I use that helps me to eliminate busywork, as in unnecessary things, from my day to day life. It comes down to how you categorise things.
The system I use is very simple and is easy to do on the fly. The reason it is simple is that if it was complicated then it would be difficult or time-consuming to do and that would be no good. It is really hard to make complexity a habit so the purpose of this system is to simplify, not complicate.
The legal requiements
You have legal requirements. These are all the things that are absolutely necessary. If you don’t do them, you go to jail, you get in trouble with the taxman, or you are in some way non-compliant. These things need to be done, they cannot and should not ever be put off. I think we can all agree on that, right?
The consequences of not performing these tasks are too grave to even consider not completing them in a timely fashion. You need to set time aside to do these tasks and it has to come before all other things. If you have not done them then there is little point in doing anything else. These tasks areas important to your business as drawing breath is for your body. You cannot put them off. These tasks are the total opposite of busywork.
The business requirements
Then you have business requirements. That is things like sales, marketing, and delivery of products or services. Those are things that, if you don’t do them you don’t have a business. With no customers to serve, no products to deliver, no income-producing activity you have no business at all. These tasks are definitely not busywork.
These tasks, the business requirements, are equally important as your legal requirements. These tasks need to be performed and they cannot be avoided. I don’t even know why you would want to put them off but so many people do. They do so and make excuses for it, those people will never succeed. You either want the business to work or you don’t, pick one. If it were me (and I face this choice daily just like you do) I always choose yes. Yes, I do want my business to work and succeed, yes I do want to generate income, and yes I do want to serve my customers. What will you choose? If you choose yes then do the work, if not go and work at McDonald’s.
What about everything else? How do we determine the value work from the busywork?
I tend to break this list of tasks down by using a set of questions. The questions I use i am going to share in order of priority, so the most important first. These things tend to be nice to haves rather than absolutely essentials so should be completed after the legal and business requirements. Do not make the mistake of engaging with these first, they will end up sucking up your time and you will have to rush the really important stuff; or worse, not get round to it at all.
Question 1: Does this task benefit my customers?
So the first question is, does this benefit my customers. If the answer is yes, then cool, it’s worth doing. If not, then there are two more questions you need to ask. Things that benefit the customer but aren’t business requirements tend to be the things that improve the customer experience. You want happy, fulfilled, and satisfied customers. These tasks are the ones that ensure that happens but, only if the really important things are done first. By really important I am of course referring to the legal; and business requirements.
Question 2: Does this task benefit me and my business?
The next question is, does this benefit me or my business. Again, if the answer is yes then cool, do it. If not, then there’s another question you need to ask. These tasks are fairly important in the grand scheme of things. Your business exists to serve you and pay your bills, you are not a charity. Thinking about things that directly benefit you or your business may seem somewhat selfish but in reality that is not the case. These tasks improve your life. The happier and more fulfilled you are the more positive the impact you can have on the lives of the people you serve. It is not selfish at all so get those thoughts out of your head.
Question 3: Does this task have a positive impact on MY world?
The final question is, does this create a positive impact on me and my world. So when I say, my word that means all the people in your world, your friends, your family, and your customers. Everything that is beneficial to improving the lives of the people you care most for is important. This also goes back to fulfilment and happiness. The happier and more stable you are and the people in your orbit are, the greater the impact you are able to have on the lives of your customers. If it, the task at hand, creates a positive impact on your world then it’s worth doing. But if it doesn’t, and it’s not worth doing.
What about everything else? All the tasks left over?
If you cannot categorise the tasks as legal or business requirements and cannot get at least one yes from the set of questions then why is it even in contention in the first place? Why have you allowed this task to steal your attention? What benefit is it really offering your business or your life?
If you are unsure about the consequences of dropping these tasks then do a bit of experimentation. Drop it for a week or two and record the results. What impact has not doing it had on your business or life? In 99% of cases, the impact not doing it has is zero. In the 1% of cases that it has an impact, seeing what that impact is will help you to properly categorise it.
You can get help with eliminating busywork and prioritising tasks
I know it can seem like quite a daunting task to analyse what you are doing and why but there are other benefits that go beyond just being more organised. Properly organising and managing your time can help prevent burnout and exhaustion, something that I have experienced myself in the worst possible way. If you would like to learn more about the other benefits of proper time management then have a read of this https://mybizacademy.co.uk/how-time-management-can-save-you-from-overwhelm
If you would like someone to go through all of this with then by all means drop me a message on my company website and we can get you booked in for a 1:1 session to get you on the right path https://mikethebizguy.co.uk/Contact