Busy work keeps you occupied but provides little to no value to your company. As a result, the more busy work, the more time and money wasted.
Not all busy work is unnecessary (think filling out timesheets, answering email messages, or checking voicemail messages), but all should be kept to a minimum for maximum performance. Managed poorly, busy work detracts from productivity.
The intrusion of our personal lives
Your employees wouldn’t want you to know this, but when their personal lives overflow into their work lives, nine times out of ten their performance suffers. For example, checking personal email messages may seem harmless, but there’s always a likelihood personal stuff will take more time than planned, costing your company money.
The chain reaction
It’s called a chain reaction. One email reminds the employee he needs to call someone who then says something that reminds him he needs to pick up dinner for his family on the way home from work. At this point the employee is busy thinking about food and figures, “Hey, why not take a quick look at Facebook? That’ll get my mind off food, and then I’ll go back to work.” Two hours later, what has the employee accomplished? What can you bill your customers for? How much of what your employee did was he actually paid to do?
Maybe not every busy work situation turns into a 2-hour distraction, but these diversions do add up. When time as a resource is not used properly, not only is money lost but employees may become stressed and/or disengaged.
Bosses need to manage their busy work, too
A lot of busy work is unavoidable. You can’t just ignore your email or voicemails. At the same time, you have the ability to regulate yourself, to stay on task, and to keep a satisfactory level of productivity.
Sometimes staying on task can be as simple as making a to-do list or blocking out specific periods for busy work. By confining them, you’re able to keep them in check and get back to other work more quickly. By prioritizing your tasks and keeping some sort of visual representation of it, you’re better able to stay on task and avoid distractions.
Busy work and procrastination go hand in hand. By getting wrapped up in busy work you often put other things off and end up far more stressed when it comes down to the wire. On top of that, your work may suffer because you’re rushed or stressed.
Take breaks and manage your time in a way that minimizes the busy work and keeps you on task. Your employees will thank you—after all, you’ll have more time now to attend to their needs—and you’ll thank yourself, too.