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How Low-Value Work Is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Cut out the optional

Being overwhelmed may be the new normal, but taking on too many responsibilities may be watering down our overall impact.

Bring back your focus to what matters most. Work on the projects that are the real game-changers. Delegate the discretionary work and eliminate unnecessary meetings.

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How Low-Value Work Is Hurting Your Bottom Line

How Low-Value Work Is Hurting Your Bottom Line

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/349018

entrepreneur.com

4

Key Ideas

Don't waste valuable energy

We can't waste valuable energy on mindless activities while putting off what matters most for later.

In business, wasting energy means working on low-value tasks, and thinking busywork is the same as productivity.

Cut out the optional

Being overwhelmed may be the new normal, but taking on too many responsibilities may be watering down our overall impact.

Bring back your focus to what matters most. Work on the projects that are the real game-changers. Delegate the discretionary work and eliminate unnecessary meetings.

Design an action plan

Running a thriving business means understanding how to organize your work by importance and knowing when to delegate.

  • Find your sweet spot. When you consider taking on a project, see if it aligns with your purpose and the organization's broader goals. Ask yourself if you're the right person with the right skillset.
  • Automate. As your company grows, use automation tools for low-level work. It also allows your employees to make more meaningful contributions.
  • Set boundaries. Learn to say no to low-level tasks. Set your own limits about what you'll take on.

Make room for what matters

Slot your meaningful work into the times when you feel most productive. Realizing how your focus, creativity, and interest change at different hours in a day can help you better engage in your key projects.

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The concept of servant leadership
The actual term for a leader who upends the power pyramid to put others' needs first was introduced by Robert Greenleaf in his influential 1970 essay "The Servant As Leader" in 1970.
The 6 main principles of servant leadership
  1. Empathy. Give trusted co-workers the benefit of the doubt by assuming the good in them. It goes a long way toward instilling loyalty and trust in you from your team.
  2. Awareness. Care deeply about the welfare of the team members. Don't view them only as cogs in a machine.
  3. Building community. Build community where both employees and customers can thrive.
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  5. Conceptualization. Servant-leading entrepreneurs focus on the big picture and don't get overly distracted by daily operations and short-term goals.
  6. Growth. Care passionately about the personal and professional growth of each member of the team.
Fuel growth while managing uncertainty
Fuel growth while managing uncertainty
  • Prepare for multiple outcomes that are within your control.
  • Refine your business plan. Adjust your strategies to your business’s current situation so you can u...
Urgent Vs Important

A lot of people make the mistake of turning down important work due to urgent work that comes up suddenly.

A task requiring immediate attention is an urgent task, whereas important tasks are ...

Time-Wasting Tasks

Some tasks are neither urgent nor important, but as these time-wasting tasks are in front of us, we end up consuming our time with them. These include:

  • Browsing social media
  • Reading junk articles and posts
  • Playing distracting games.
Avoiding Urgent Tasks

Urgent tasks are the ones that are not adding any value but come up to be done at that moment. The right approach is to avoid the urgent and focus on the important.

Example: Answering a phone call can seem urgent, due to its ringing, but it may not be that important.

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Cut out low-value activities

Many of us are working longer hours than we should be just because we are wasting time on low-value activities.

Track your time for a few days to identify your distractors and the low-...

Schedule recurring social activities

Having an active social life is crucial to your health. People who isolate themselves from others could increase their risk of death by about 50 percent. 

If you have a busy life, schedule recurring social activities with your closest friends, monthly.  Plan your work schedule around your social calendar instead of the other way around.

Learn to cope with stress

The key to finding the balance between work and health is learning how to cope with stress.

Get in the habit of stepping away from the stressful situation for a few moments to calm down and collect your thoughts: step away from the computer or spend a few minutes walking outside.

Benefits of a learning culture

During the last recession, companies that invested in their employees, in part by providing the training they needed to move forward in their careers, enjoyed profit gains of 26 percent, compared t...

When hiring, screen for learners
  • Ask about passion projects. Learners tend to pursue something else outside work (training for a marathon, playing with a band, etc.)
  • Focus on curiosity as much as hard skills. Bring up problems currently facing the team and see how the candidate responds.
  • One of the most important things to a learning mindset is the ability to admit you don't know something. So be aware of how they approach the things they don't understand.
Learning as a company policy

This means explicitly defining ongoing learning as a core company value.

Empowering employees can mean providing the time or money to enable learning - in other words, offering learning opportunities as a job benefit like health insurance. 

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The goal of staying focused

The goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. 

Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative.

Do creative work first

Typically, we do mindless work first and build-up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus.

In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work.

Allocate your time deliberately

We are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours.

90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.

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Keep yourself accountable

Making a commitment to yourself helps keep you accountable. 

Write your goals down, keep a to-do list with you, and create reminders on your phone and on your calendar.

Make yourself accountable to others
  • Tell everyone what you plan to do and talk about your goals. Tell friends, employees, and employers your intentions and you won’t want to let them down. 
  • Start documenting and sharing your journey. A blog or vlog where you share the projects you’re working on and your progress will encourage you to get things done. 
Cut out temptations

If you’re a chronic procrastinator and simply can’t resist the temptations of things like Facebook and Youtube, it might be time to cut out temptations.

There are tools such as Rescue Time, SelfControl and Focus that will temporarily block access to distracting websites like Facebook. Less aggressive tools such as Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator and Distraction Free Youtube will allow you to have access to Facebook and Youtube but block the distracting parts of these websites (such as the newsfeed).

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Freewrite

When you are feeling stuck, start writing about whatever is on your mind.

Set aside 10 to 15 minutes. It may start out as a page of gibberish, but soon ideas will start to flow.

Tackle smaller tasks first

If you feel overwhelmed by how little you have progressed, switch to working on mindless tasks that require little attention and allow the mind to wander. Wash the dishes, organize your bookshelf, or do laundry. 

By accomplishing small wins, you develop momentum and confidence to overcome your mental block.

Change your environment
The cleanliness of your workspace affects your performance and mood at work. 
  • Having a neat, organized desk will improve your productivity and focus. 
  • A messy space can enhance creativity and help you gain fresh insights. 

Play around with your home or office environment and discover what works best for you.

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Ignore your inbox when you wake up

Responding to emails as soon as you receive a notification gives others the impression that you’re at their beck and call. It also prevents you from reflecting on your own priorities for...

Empty your inbox daily
  • Do. If the email is actionable and takes under two minutes, then do the task ASAP.
  • Delegate. Forward the right tasks to the right people.
  • Defer. Reply to the message at a better time.
  • Delete emails that are not important or that you can delegate. 
  • File. Add messages that contain information you will need to your archives.
Stop CC’ing everyone

To avoid filling the email box of staff members, only CC the relevant parties. Ask your team to respond to you individually instead of using the reply-to-all button.

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The 4 keys to ignite productivity

The 4 methods to ignite productivity even when motivation is low:

  1. Plan ahead when energized
  2. Find a way to minimize distractions
  3. Get an outside motivator
  4. Change o...
Plan ahead when energized

Plan ahead for the week, month or year when you are energized and feeling motivated, for better results for getting stuff done.

Outside motivator

If you can’t hold yourself accountable, it’s a good idea to bring in an outside influence.

An accountability partner forces you to acknowledge the ways you’re sabotaging yourself, take personal responsibility and complete that to-do list. 

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