What if we could have more hours in the day?
It’s one thing everyone wants, and yet it’s impossible to attain. But what if you could free up significant time—maybe as much as 20% of your workday—to focus on the responsibilities that really matter?
The answer is simple: Eliminate or delegate unimportant tasks and replace them with value-added ones. Research indicates that we spend a great deal of time—an average of 41%—on discretionary activities that offer little personal satisfaction and could be handled competently by others. So why do we keep doing them? Because ridding oneself of work is easier said than done. We instinctively cling to tasks that make us feel busy and thus important, while we missing focusing on the top 20% of tasks that will optimise profit, workflow & cash flow.
]There is a way forward. We can make themselves more productive by thinking consciously about how we spend our time; deciding which tasks matter most, and dropping or creatively outsourcing the rest. By simply asking ourselves to rethink and shift the balance of work, we can free up nearly a fifth of our time—an average of one full day a week—and focus on more worthwhile tasks with the hours saved.
Why It’s So Hard ~ There are many reasons why this happens. Most of us feel entangled in a web of commitments from which it can be painful to extricate ourselves. Also, those less important items on our to-do lists are not entirely without benefit. Making progress on any task—even an inessential one—increases our feelings of engagement and satisfaction, research has shown.
Identify low-value tasks ~ Look at all your daily activities and decide which ones are (a) not that important to you and (b) relatively easy to drop, delegate, or outsource. Research suggests that at least one-quarter of typical work falls into both categories, so you should aim to find up to 10 hours of time per week. Decide whether to drop, delegate, or redesign. Sort the low-value tasks into three categories: quick kills (things you can stop doing now with no negative effects), off-load opportunities (tasks that can be delegated with minimal effort), and long-term redesign (work that needs to be restructured or overhauled).
Allocate freed-up time ~ The goal, of course, is to be not just efficient but effective. So the next step is to determine how to best make use of the time you’ve saved. Write down two or three things you should be doing but aren’t, and then get stuck in. You should also be able to go home a bit earlier to enjoy time with your family.