Elimination Is the Key to Managing an Excessive Workload

a year ago   •   4 min read

By Zero Machina

We all know that feeling of being overwhelmed by our workload.

It seems like no matter how much we try to get done, there's always more to do. It's never-ending.

Excessive workloads lead to long hours and work-related stress.  Mental health starts declining. And as the downward spiral continues, you begin experiencing a poor work-life balance. At some point, you hit a breaking point.

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, the key to managing an excessive workload is by cutting down. You can better invest your time by eliminating, subtracting, and getting rid of waste.

In this article, we'll explore how to better manage your workload through elimination.

The Best Way To Increase Productivity Is To Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks

Warren Buffett is an excellent example of someone who invests their time wisely—after all, he's consistently ranked among the wealthiest people in the world.

Mike Flint was Buffett's personal airplane pilot. And on one occasion, Buffett guided him through an exercise that helped him prioritize his career goals.

The exercise was simple. He told Flint to make a list of his top 25 career goals. Then he was told to circle the 5 most important ones. Now that he had two lists, Flint's goal was to focus all his energy on the top 5 items that he circled. The other 20 items were on the "Avoid-At-All-Cost" list.

By eliminating sub-par goals and distractions, Flint could prioritize what mattered most and achieve greater success.

You can use this same technique in your own life.

Choose a time horizon for getting things done—it could be a week, month, or even a year. Write down your top 25 goals for that time period. Then circle the 5 that are most important. From there, it's time to start eliminating the other 20 goals: delegate, outsource, or simply ditch them altogether.

The goal is to focus your attention on the tasks that will have the biggest impact. This will help you better manage your workload and be more productive.

Elimination, Subtraction, and Getting Rid of Waste

Elimination, subtraction, and getting rid of waste are all incredibly important when it comes to investing your time.

For instance, editors tell novelists to cut until it hurts.

A novelist might even have to remove their favorite parts before they get to the finished product.  But the goal is to make the novel as good as it can be—and that means eliminating anything that isn't essential. This may be painful at first. But it's how a novelist gets to the end result: an exciting story.

The productive path is paved with elimination and subtraction.

Let's take another example from business and manufacturing.

Perhaps you've heard the term "lean manufacturing." The goal of lean manufacturing is to minimize waste while maximizing productivity. This includes reducing things like overproduction, wait times, unnecessary transportation and movement, overprocessing, inventory, and defects.

By eliminating waste, businesses can operate more efficiently and effectively.

This underlying principle can be applied to all aspects of your life.

Eliminating waste doesn't mean you have to become a minimalist. It simply means getting rid of anything that doesn't serve a purpose or add value to your life.  This could be unnecessary multitasking, unproductive meetings, or mindless social media scrolling. Identify the activities that are wasting your time, then minimize or get rid of them.

This will help you manage an excessive workload and better invest your time.

5 Tips for Busy Professionals Who Want To Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks

If you want to be productive and better invest your time, you'll want to learn how to eliminate.

The goal is to free up focus so you can prioritize what matters most. This will help you better manage your workload and be more productive with your time.

Here are a few tips:

1. Identify activities wasting your time. This could be anything from unproductive meetings to mindless social media scrolling. Once you've identified the activities that are wasting your time, it's time to minimize or get rid of them.

2. Schedule time for your personal life and distractions. We all need a personal life. And we all have things we enjoy doing that aren't necessarily "productive." That's okay! Just make sure you're scheduling time for these activities so they don't interfere with your professional priorities.

3. Set a time limit to help minimize distractions. Once you've identified the activities that are wasting your time, set a time limit for yourself. For example, if you want to spend less time on social media, give yourself 15 minutes to scroll through your feed.

4. Delegate or outsource. One of the best ways to eliminate unnecessary tasks is to delegate or outsource them. Whenever possible, delegate a task to another member of your team if you don't have the time for it yourself. You could also consider outsourcing it to a professional.

5. Automate where possible. Technology can be a huge help when it comes to eliminating unnecessary tasks. For example, you can use a tool like Undock to instantly find mutually preferred meeting times, instead of trying to manually schedule meetings and calculate the "time zone math."

By following these tips, you'll be more equipped to eliminate unnecessary tasks and better invest your time.

Next Steps

Elimination empowers you to focus on what matters most. This will help you better manage your workload and be more productive with your time. So ask yourself: what activities are wasting my time? And how can I minimize or eliminate them?

Want to learn how to better invest your time? Check out our article: The Importance of Opportunity Cost and Making Wiser Decisions.

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