80% of your task list shouldn’t be there

Whether I’m talking to the most senior or junior person in an organisation, almost everyone seems to be busy. Delving into what’s causing the busyness, responses vary from vague to detailed or even confessions of tasks that aren’t critical to their role. However, an immediate justification reasons why they’ve got so many tasks to action. You see we lack clarity when we’re overwhelmed by too many tasks.

One way to approach this is to look at ways to be more efficient, but there’ll become a point where there might be only marginal room for improvement. Productivity and leadership expert Michael Hyatt has a different and audacious tactic to address task list overwhelm. Michael argues that 80% of our task list shouldn’t be there and to achieve this we need to eliminate, automate or delegate tasks.

Overarching to this is to have absolute clarity where you make a difference by focussing only on what’s important that you and only you can do. Have you noticed how we’re more productive just before a holiday?

Three thoughts:

Eliminate – don’t include a wish list within your task list. I’ve seen white collar workers with a perpetual outstanding 100, 200 even 300 tasks. The reality is while it’s all neatly recorded and categorised, all tasks never get actioned because there simply isn’t enough time. So be brutal, start with if the task isn’t absolutely critical then cull it from your task list.

Automate – technology can help to automate manual tasks. For instance, x.ai (https://x.ai/) is a personal assistant bot that schedules meetings for you. It saves time by doing the back and forth communication often required to find a suitable time to meet for both parties.

Delegate – to staff or if you don’t have anyone to delegate to then outsource. I’m not particularly good at design and when I do it I’m also exceptionally slow at it. I outsource my design work to Fiverr (www.fiverr.com) who offer a range of freelance services cost effectively.

To reduce busyness and overwhelm consider reviewing what’s on your task list. Imagine the difference it would make if you achieved more by removing a significant percentage of it.