Want to Be Irreplaceable at Work? Do Fewer Things, Better

January 6, 2017

Multitasking will be the death of your career. Instead, focus on the few things you do well at work, and do them well.

What’s the key to being irreplaceable at work?

It’s really about doing fewer things better, according to “Business Chaos Crusher” and LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dave Crenshaw. Specifically, it means focusing on the things you do really well that have the most impact on the business, and then spending the vast majority of your time on that.

Sounds simple enough, but few people adhere to that advice. 

In his course Enhancing Your Productivity, Crenshaw said that people who try to do too much often resort to multitasking, or as he calls it, “switch-tasking.” The problem with switch-tasking is that each time you switch from one activity to another, you increase your stress level and lose focus, and the work suffers.

Instead, the most productive, most irreplaceable people determine their MVAs – most valuable activities – and focus on those, Crenshaw said. They also determine their LVAs – least valuable activities – and find ways to offload those tasks.

Here’s how to identify your MVAs and offload your LVAs, so you can start focusing on the few things you do really well, which make you irreplaceable.

How to identify your most valuable activities

Crenshaw suggests creating a quick spreadsheet to identify your MVAs. In that spreadsheet, you should list out all of your work activities, proceeded by three columns: your talent at them, how difficult it would be for your company to replace you to do that task and the amount of money your company would pay someone else to do that task.

From there, you should fill out each column for each activity on a 1-10 scale. Obviously, the goal is find the tasks that you are uniquely talented at, which the company would be hard-pressed to replace if you left. If two activities are equal, pick the one that the company would pay more money for.

The point of all this is to identify the two or three tasks that you should be spending the most amount of time on. The next step is finding ways to avoid the least valuable activities.

How to avoid your least valuable activities

The spreadsheet you made in the last section won’t just identify your MVAs, it’ll also identify your LVAs. The next step is finding ways to offload those LVAs, so you can focus more on your MVAs.

To avoid doing your LVAs or to at least do them more efficiently, Crenshaw recommends this five-tiered offloading process:

  1. Improve your personal systems: See if there are ways you can become more personally organized and efficient to get your LVAs done faster.
  2. Improve your business systems: Ensure everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to do and responsibilities are documented, if possible. This will equate to less wasted time for everyone at your company.
  3. Use the best technology possible: If buying a new piece of software, a new computer or even a new stapler would make you more efficient, buy it. The cost will easily be outweighed by your increased productivity.
  4. Outsource: If the first three steps don’t reduce the time you spend on your LVAs, try outsourcing the task to an agency or contractor and see if that releases the burden.
  5. Hiring: If all else fails, it’s time to hire someone to take those LVAs off your plate. Maybe you could hire a receptionist to answer calls or an assistant to keep you organized.

The takeaway

We all inherently want to be as productive as possible and provide the most value we can to our employer (or, if you own your own business, to yourself). But often many of us spend too much of our time on LVAs, i.e. tasks that keep us busy but don’t really advance the business.

Make a plan to solve that. First off, find what your MVAs are and prioritize them. Next, find ways to offload your LVAs so you spend less of your time on them.

Bottom line, a big key success to is to maximizing your strengths, rather than spending time on areas you are weak in or aren’t important to the business. Crenshaw’s advice ensures you make that happen.

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