Stop Being Busy and Start Being Productive
Written by Todd Liles
It’s easy to do the wrong thing too often. Especially when a person is new to management. New managers often fill their day with familiar tasks, as opposed to productive. These tasks give us a false sense of accomplishment.
These tasks fill a person’s day but create a problem when it comes to productivity. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, a study of over 1300 managers concluded that “only 47% of their working time is taken up with managerial activities.” The remainder of the time was unproductive time wasters.
One of the biggest time wasters is the “comfort task.”
What is a comfort task?
A comfort task is an old action that a person falls back on when they need to feel “productive.”
An example would be when a service manager jumps in the truck to run some calls. Running calls makes the service manager feel productive, and it’s comfortable.
But, are running calls a productive use of the service manager’s time?
That depends on the “why” of the service call.
The productive “comfort task.”
If the sales or service manager runs a call with a team member to boost their skill, then it’s productive. Or if the purpose is to discover potential problems in a process, it’s also productive.
If the manager runs a call to make himself/herself feel good, then that’s the wrong “why.” That’s not productive and has no value. The comfort task is a waste of energy, money, and has no intended purpose other than filling time.
What to do about comfort tasks?
The first step to becoming more productive is to decide on the tasks at hand. In our Manager Series program, we teach the following Managerial Principles about task management.
All tasks fall into one of four categories:
- Personally Responsible
Personal responsibility for a task.
The tasks only the Service or Sales Manager can do are the ones that deserve energy and time. After all, only you can do them, so do them well!
Other tasks that need to be done, but not by you, should be delegated.
Delegating a task.
Some tasks require you to think on them, study them closely, and then make a decision and a plan. That often means pouring over data, but not assembling it.
In this instance, you may delegate the task of data assembly to another person. This is a huge time saver and solves the problem faster.
Of course, there are times when you need to gather the data because it’s a part of the thinking process; such as a ride-along to discover service problems.
Several tasks occur often and require the same information prior to action. In those cases, use automation.
Automation of a task.
These tasks should be automated to save human energy and time. Example: data gathering, data reporting, email marketing, and repetitive physical processes.
Automation of these tasks prevents errors and energy drain.
Destroy the task.
If a task is not critical or needed, then it should be destroyed. Don’t waste you or your people’s time with unimportant tasks.
Time and energy-wasting tasks are demotivators and should be removed.
Managers Complete Meaningful Tasks and Lead People
As a manager, you have the responsibility of Leading People. Because they do the work (aka tasks) that make a company function. So, you must be focused on leadership, properly assigning tasks, and clearing obstacles that waste time, energy, and money.
Todd Liles is the founder of Service Excellence Training.
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