Friday, April 22, 2011

Stop the Busywork, and start the work that matters

I like my work and feel lucky to have a job where I can make a difference.  There is a good 'fit', I'm fairly compensated, and I work alongside smart and committed colleagues.  It's just sometimes, there just seems so much of it...... work I mean.

Typically I put in an extra 5-10 hours a week & often more.  So when I saw this course offered it caught my eye:  Stop the Busywork, and start the work that matters.  The facilitator was also the author of the book  Do More Great Work.

Some of the best take-aways were the simplest:
  • Set aside blocks of time to work without interruptions (uninterrupted time is more productive; forget about the idea that multi-tasking is more efficient... In fact, measuring IQ before and after trying to complete a task with and without interruptions shows there is a 10 point performance drop in those who are constantly interrupted).
  • Think about managing energy vs. time:
    • Figure out what tasks can be done adequately... not everything needs to be done perfectly.  "Good enough" can free up time for great work (I've been applying this rule to housework for years).
    • Years ago I read a time management book that advocated getting by on one to two less hours of sleep a night, with the rationale being you'd net more time.  Thankfully, research by Schwartz and others shows this approach is counter-productive.  Over time, people who catch more zzzz's aren't just healthier and happier, they're actually more accomplished.
One of the handiest tools of the day mapped work into four different quadrants:
  • Q4:  you don't care; organization doesn't really care
  • Q3:  organization cares; you don't care quite so much
  • Q2:  you care; organization doesn't care
  • Q1:  you care; organization cares
Of course, your great work falls into Q1 and Q2 and this is where you want to spend most time; 'good' work often falls into Q3; and 'bad' into Q4.  Try to eliminate work in Q4; employ 'good enough' to Q3; and look at strategies for moving the great work from Q2 into Q1.

I mentally layered this over Steven Covey's matrix from  7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey is definitely one of my favourite work gurus of all time.   This demonstration really brings it all home.  It definitely "rocks"!!

    1 comment:

    Kurt said...

    I adapted his quadrants for my own list-making.