As an executive, you have too much to do to get mired down in “busywork.” Often, work seems urgent or important simply because it’s something that “everyone else is doing” or is a task that has grown into a particular process over time – with no real reasoning behind it. This is just busywork.
For example, a meeting held with twenty people, but on a topic that only directly affects four people in the room is busywork for the sixteen other people attending. Another example is an executive that insists upon delivering the company product personally, when they have employees who should be tasked with this action.
Both of these examples appear productive on the face of things, but as we dig deeper, they are actually taking up executive time and resources.
So, how does one identify and get rid of busywork? Here are five steps you can take to ending busywork forever:
1. Identify. The first step in this process is identifying busywork. You can do this by writing down the actions you do all day for a week. Once you have kept this log, look over each task. Did that task grow your business and create a better future for your company? If the answer is yes, ask yourself if one of your employees should have done the task instead of you. This second question is the real doozy here, because a lot of work that is productive for your business is not the work you, as an executive, should be doing.
An example of a task that will grow your business, but is busywork to an executive would be a toy manufacturer going down to the factory and physically working on the line. While the executive’s skills and experience may get the line moving faster, and help satisfy a customer, it is still busywork. A more productive use of that time would be to inspect each aspect of the line and instruct the foreman on how to get each person or part of the production line moving more rapidly.
2. Pare down. Now that you have identified what busywork is for you as an executive, it’s time to examine if that work is worth doing at all. It could be that automatic systems could take over specific tasks like bill pay, part of the assembly line, and more. See if tasks can be taken over by automatic systems.
3. Assign. Many tasks on your list are probably necessary and cannot be taken over by automatic systems. That doesn’t mean you are the right person to complete them, however. Assign tasks like sales, production and quality assurance to employees in your company or hire specialists to do the work for you. This may mean that you need to build a new department or hire a consultant to help you restructure your business to take over these tasks.
Executive busywork is not the same as busywork done by everyday employees. Many of these tasks are vital and getting someone else to take them over may require a restructuring of your entire business. We specialize in executive coaching and organizational consulting. Contact us today to help you get rid of busywork.