“The world would be a better place, if every employee was able to focus on delivering their highest value work.”
When you are in the thick of day-to-day activity, operational efficiency and automated systems might seem like a luxury.
In truth they are crucial to the success of your business.
Every business is filled with two minute tasks.
These tasks need to be carried out multiple times every day, just to keep the business moving.
The really successful businesses have identified these tasks and either eliminated them through systems and processes, or they’ve automated them wherever possible.
These two-minute tasks can seem completely harmless, because you and your team are so used to having large parts of your day filled up carrying out mindless repetitive actions.
“This is the way we’ve always done it”, is one of the most harmful positions to take in your businesses.
2 minutes are really 17 minutes
We often think it’s not worth it to put in the required effort and resources to eliminate as many of these two-minute tasks and distractions as possible, simply because, although they’re pervasive, they appear benign.
The reality is quite different.
When doing focussed work, studies have shown it can take between 17 and 25 minutes, to return to pre-interruption level of focus after only a 2-minute interruption.
If you think about it this way, next time you are interrupted to carry out a 2-minute task; or the next time you interrupt one of your team members… know that productivity is reduced for the next 20 minutes or so.
Internal communication is a rampant example of this in most businesses.
Let’s take the process of writing and publishing this article.
The value to our business is in writing, publishing and sharing the article.
Any other activity adds no value to you, the reader, or to our business.
This can be made even worse, if we were to run this process like most businesses – emailing back and forth to check if the article has been written; does the web team have the latest version; where is the feature image saved; has the post gone live on the website?
Each of these is a point of potential interruption and wasted time.
Our process is simple.
Once I’ve finished writing this article in Google Docs, I’ll simply save it to a specific folder.
This will trigger a series of automated steps, including posting the article to our website in draft mode, and notifying the editor it is ready to complete and publish.
This might not seem like much, but the elimination of the pointless communication in this process allows everyone else involved to get on with their highest value work.
It eliminates the endless internal communication, usually done via email, with everyone copied in, generating masses of emails for people who have no need to read them, or even receive them in the first place.
Your team is overqualified and bored
Another insidious downside to a lack of systems and automation is your highly qualified and capable team being asked to perform mundane, low-value work.
Set aside the fact that as humans we are rubbish at reliably performing repetitive tasks… it is killing your team’s morale from the inside.
Imagine your business 12 months from now.
You and your team have invested time to identify and either automate or eliminate as many repetitive tasks in your business as possible.
Everyone is able to come to work knowing they will only be asked to work on delivering their highest value to your customers and your business.
They won’t be asked to perform tasks a few lines of code or a simple app can perform faster and more reliably.
They can spend their time focused on the things that actually make a difference.
Not only will this have a massive, positive effect on the morale of your team, it also makes your business a much better place to work, with real stickiness when it comes to your team members.
Their jobs are focussed and exciting. They feel they are achieving something every day and adding value. If they move to a different company, they’d be back doing the soul-destroying mundane again.
Give them superpowers
The aim of automation or systems and processes is not to replace or restrict your team, but to free them up to deliver their highest value contribution, to your customers, your business and each other.
We are all cyborgs in our everyday lives, with access to more computing power and unlimited information on our pockets, so why would you restrict your business and your team to carry on working as if it was 1999?
Embrace the advances in technology, automation, systems and processes in your business now. The reality is that if you don’t, you’ll be left behind and your business will wither and die.
The power of 3
Lots have been written about the power of 3, so let’s work with that here.
Right now, whilst you are focussed, spend just 5 minutes and identify 3 tasks you do every day, which you would like to automate or eliminate.
Don’t worry about how you would do it, not now. Just identify 3 tasks. Let me know what they are and, if you are stuck, I’m happy to give you some ideas on how you could eliminate them from your working day.
Author: Pieter De Villiers
Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Blue Peg Group and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.