One of the biggest time drains out there is doing things that don’t actually need to be done. We all have a tendency to overcomplicate – both in our personal lives and our professional lives.
Similar to prioritizing your Daily Six, identifying what doesn’t actually need to be done can save boatloads of time.
Do you really need to do that personally?
Do you really need to drive to the store to buy that, or can you do it online in a fraction of the time? Do you really need to call, or can you update your information online?
Do your children really need a bath every night? (Mine don’t.)
Last night I ran the dishwasher, but didn’t finish the dishes that needed to be hand-washed. All dirty clothes were put in the laundry and clean clothes put away, but a big ol’ pile of toys was left on the floor.
Finishing the dishes and picking up toys would have only taken 15-20 minutes, but instead I spend that time paying several bills and prepping items for a meeting and errands that need to be run today. The toys and dishes won’t take any more time today than they would have yesterday.
Last week, one of my son’s had a very specific request for a Halloween costume. I could have spent several hours traipsing around to various stores to see if the item was in stock anywhere. Instead, I spent three minutes on Amazon, and it will show up at our house today. (PS – Our subscription to Amazon Prime has paid for itself many many times over in both time and dollars. I highly recommend.)
For errands that do need to be done, is there a way to combine tasks or plan your route to hit as many as possible all at once? What do you need to prepare ahead of time to have what you need, when and where you need it?
Do you really need to do that professionally?
In the workplace, the most common areas I see work that doesn’t need to be done is recurring meetings and recurring reports.
Want to know if people are truly paying attention, and if your communication is adding value? Write a sentence in the middle of the report or meeting invite that makes no sense at all. Or something along the lines of, “If you’re reading this, please come see me.” See who says anything and when. Adjust your future messaging accordingly.
On meetings, if people consistently cancel or don’t show up, it’s probably time to re-evaluate whether or not the meeting is necessary. Likewise, if you’re the one skipping meetings with increasing frequency, consider saying something to the meeting organizer.
Would everyone’s time be better served if the meeting was bi-weekly or monthly? Does there need to be a written status update in between? Can the meeting transition to just written updates?
Today’s Challenge: Before you do anything, stop and ask yourself, “Is this truly necessary? What happens if I don’t do it? Is there a simpler way to accomplish this?” Report back with your results in the comments.