We’ve all had tasks at work and in everyday life that we hate doing. As a manager, I don’t find anything fulfilling about doing timecards or creating overtime schedules for weekend work.
Outside of intensely focusing and conquering my workday, I’ve realized that learning how to stay focused while doing repetitive tasks is also important. Sometimes we’ll stay in a mode of procrastination if we have a long list of boring or overwhelming tasks.
At my work before the last manager left, he showed me how to approve time cards using our SAP based time-keeping system (not always a user-friendly program). Monday is my day to approve and enter time. It used to take over an hour to complete time cards using the method I was taught.
For 10 of my direct reports who work on 2 different shifts at 2 different locations, I’d have to manually enter:
- Start of the shift
- Beginning of lunch break
- End of lunch break
- End of shift
Not a big deal right?
Let’s do some quick calculations.
10 employees per entry x 4 entries per day x 4 days per week = 160 entries / week
The number of entries increase when my guys work overtime…which is most of the time.
Imagine typing this one line 40-60 times, “05:00 [tab key] 10:00 [tab key] 10:30 [tab key] 15:30 [tab key]”.
How did I transform this uninteresting task into something more “enjoyable”? How can you do the same?
Be present in the moment. A lot of times while doing mundane work tasks, we spend a lot of mental energy thinking about the 3,752 items we have to scratch off of our “to-do” list in the next day, , next week, next month or next year!
Worrying about something you have to do in the future drains your mental energy. This makes it hard for you to do the most uninteresting tasks that you’re required to do TODAY and only drags out the process. When you’re fully present in your work, you’ll do a better job.
LEAN it out. Put that Lean Six Sigma training to good use and improve your work processes.
Remember that time card example I mentioned earlier? I got tired of manually entering all of the data into the time-keeping system.
I created a matrix in Excel with all of the data I needed. (Engineers LOVE Excel spreadsheets.) I copied and pasted the matrix into the timekeeping system not knowing if it would work or not. Fortunately, it did! ☺
Later, I shared this information with another manager and he immediately wanted a copy of my matrix.
This took my task from 60-75 minutes down to 15 minutes, a 75-80% reduction in time! Improving your processes will free up your time for more enjoyable things.
Delegate it. Got some tight deadlines coming up? Delegate a portion of your tasks out to your teammates and direct reports.
Not a manager? Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a manager to delegate your work. If you’ve built up a good working relationship with your coworkers, they won’t mind helping you from time to time. Just make sure you return the favor.
I’ve utilized all of these techniques in many areas of my career and personal life. Implement some of these strategies and let me know how it went!
Which strategy will you implement first? How much time can you save if you improved the process for doing something that’s necessary but not fun?
Get tailored career advice and get the promotion you deserve. Sign up here!