Managers Need To Learn How To Get Rid Of Low-Priority Work

Managers are busy people, we need to learn how to get rid of work that does not matter
Managers are busy people, we need to learn how to get rid of work that does not matter
Image Credit: NASA ICE

So just how busy are you? If you are like most managers these days you have more work to do than you have hours in a day. We understand that there is a great deal of work that needs you to use your manager skills to get done. However, more and more there seem to be tasks that we consider to be “low-priority” that keep showing up on our desks. We really don’t want to waste our time working on these issues, but they keep coming our way. What’s a manager to do?

Not All Work Is Created Equally

Some managers doing their jobs remotely are trying to clear the decks of virtual busy work. Working from home has inspired some managers to lobby for less busy work and more control over how many hours they spend on the job. Without the usual in-person oversight, some managers feel empowered to rethink tasks that feel like a waste of time and are more open about their needs at home. Managers are in a position where they are calling more of the shots than they did before. The result of this is that it has shifted the power balance a little bit.

Just exactly how should managers determine what they should be working on? Simple – prioritize critical tasks just like they tell us to do in our manager training. Although some managers gained time by not commuting, the added hours spent caring for children, parents or others outside work leave many susceptible to burnout. For those re-evaluating their workday, managers need to prioritize tasks that advance a company’s core mission while doing away with reports or projects being done simply for tracking purposes.

How managers go about doing their jobs has never been as important as it is now. Being stretched thin has spurred managers to find more efficient ways to check in with team members. One way to go about doing this is to address teams at large meetings and town halls, instead of doing one-on-one catch-ups over Zoom. This can also be a form of team building. Managers realize that working from home rules out informal in-person collaborations or updates from quick hallway chats. Ultimately, we realize that our typical 9-hour days just aren’t as productive outside the office. A key way to get more done is to delegate projects to others.

Make Changes To Make Work Meaningful

Managers can take steps to keep meetings focused. One steps is to determine who is critical to each meeting in order to pare the number of attendees. Another is to get support for quiet hours – a three-hour interval during the week without scheduled meetings. These types of changes can help productivity.

Although we can do a lot, managers need to know their limits. Different things can be done such as providing time off that does not count against vacation days. Often members of your team may have suggestions on how to avoid doing work that does not really have to be done. You can get their inputs by creating a virtual suggestion box that will allow for anonymity.

The good news for managers is that if they can be more open about their workload, then it can help to make us feel less stressed about meeting deadlines while on the job at home. Handing off tasks that we really don’t need to be doing can save us hours each month and make our work less likely to spill over into the weekend. Finding the courage to turn down new projects also helps.

What All Of This Means For You

In the new reality where many managers now find themselves working from home, we are also taking a look at the types of work that we are doing. What we are discovering is that it all does not have the same level of priority. Some of the tasks that we are being asked to do are low priority. What we would like to do is to stop doing the low priority tasks so that we can focus on the work that really matters. How to make that happen is the problem that we need to solve.

Now that we are working from home, managers are feeling empowered to take charge of what work they are doing. In order to balance all of the home related tasks that they are being asked to do, they are attempting to find ways to get rid of work that does not have any meaning. They need to do this by prioritizing critical tasks. Finding better ways to keep in touch with team members is a key responsibility. Keeping meetings focused can help to reduce the number of meetings that we go to and how long they last. We all have limits and we need to know what they are. Being open about the work that we are doing can help to reduce our stress.

Managers are a key part of any company. Our ability to lead our team and to get work done is what helps the company to move forward. In the new environment where we find ourselves working from home, we need to take the time to take a careful look at what work we are doing and make sure that it really matters. If it doesn’t, then we need to make it go away. Use your time wisely and make sure that you make every minute of your day count.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way to determine if something that you are working on really matters?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As managers, a great deal of each day is taken up with dealing with email. No matter if it is sorting through all of the new email that has arrived since we last took a look at it or it is crafting the perfect response to that email that we just got, all of this stuff takes time. A lot of time. How can a manager use our manager skills to get over our addiction to email?