Stop Doing Low-Value Work

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbSAAAAJGE3YjEwMjU0LWRlNDItNGY3Yi05ZDA1LTFjYjg1NDkxMjdiMQThis is from the Harvard Business Review, and it’s very true. I’m a small business guy, which means I’m a generalist, it also means that as much as possible, I lean on technology to take care of all the details, it works surprisingly well. Here’s some from Priscilla Claman’s article.

In the past, time management experts would recommend that you divide up your work into A tasks, B tasks, and C tasks. The concept was to do the A tasks first, then the B tasks, then the C tasks, when you can get to them. If priorities changed, you just changed the order of your As, Bs, and Cs. Doing all aspects of a job seemed possible then, if you just followed some basic time management rules.

That kind of thinking ended during the recession of 2007-2009. Between January 2008 and February 2010, 8.8 million jobs were lost. Although the jobs went away, much of the work didn’t. Teachers ended up with more children in a classroom; customer service representatives ended up with more phone calls; and managers ended up with more people to manage as teams were consolidated. No matter the job, everyone ended up with a lot more work. And although there have been real gains in productivity since then, the days of A, B, and C tasks are over. Overwhelmed is the new normal.

Therefore, it’s actually a matter of professional life or death to get rid of your low-value work – tasks that mean little or nothing to customers or colleagues. Take an active approach. Design a new, do-able job for yourself. Here’s when to do it:

via Stop Doing Low-Value Work

All true, but as usual, designed for corporate life, and for those of us in small business, it looks a bit different. Mostly we don’t do all those reports she speaks of, we’ve never had time, or the manpower, for that. And to be honest, when the management team is 5-10 people, neither have we had the need. One of the things about small business life is that we don’t have the underfoot for lily-gilding overhead, usually we don’t have the taste either.

In many ways, that’s why the regulatory burden falls so heavily on us. We have neither the people nor the taste to do endless forms, that don’t fit our system, and contribute nothing to our operations. From our chair, they are simply a waste of time. None of us, for example, have any desire to get our people hurt, but multi-thousand pages of OSHA regulation will never, in our mind, be as good, as supervisors with a modicum of common sense. Same in almost all areas.

In fact, that is why I’ve never been afraid to compete with the ‘big boys’, I’m so much more maneuverable, that they don’t have a chance. Sadly, that’s not as true anymore, their cronies in the government have saddled us all with so much nonsense paperwork, required by law, that we’re bogging down. True for us, true for the small banks, I think, true for almost all small business.

We’re still having lots of good ideas out here, in the office, and the field, but they’re getting set aside, we can’t find people willing to work 16/7/365 and do it productively.

In fact, we’re not either. The Sad part is, I don’t see anyone on the horizon that is likely to make any difference to this imposed cost, none at all.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

2 Responses to Stop Doing Low-Value Work

  1. “All true, but as usual, designed for corporate life, and for those of us in small business…” Not designed for households either. Jobs that most would call C work, well they still need to get done. From a fave book of mine, “Life comes as daily usage even to heads of state and great artists; they too must have clean socks and a cup of coffee, and sometimes must provide it for themselves.” Part of the problem is that we too often think that value equals what other people value and what we get credit for. Some of it is just thankless.

    And I’m totally loving being back on the blog circuit. Neo, meet Emily. Emily, Neo. To me, this and Emily’s post are related and not just because I read both of them this afternoon. http://www.mbird.com/2016/06/capon-and-cupcakes-my-daughters-baptism/

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      So nice to welcome you to NEO, you already know how much I like your work. And yes, that is a real problem, when we only value what we do in terms of how others value it. There’s a lot of scut work that simply must get done. My own pet hate is at the end of a construction job, what we call ‘the punch list’. All the niggling little details that have to get done, down to ‘clocking’ the screws sometimes, sometimes waste whole days on such garbage.

      And I’m off to Emily’s

      Like

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