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3 Strategies to Simplify Your To-Do List

About Lisa Bodell

Lisa Bodell is a global leader on behavior change, whose skill-building firm has transformed hundreds of thousands of employees from Fortune 500 companies by showing them how to eliminate the complexity that holds them back and get to the work that matters. Her talks offer a roadmap to eradicate the workplace complexity that is killing organizations’ ability to be agile, fast and innovative

The majority of our time is consumed with busywork — the tedious, thankless, and often urgent things that devour our workday. These tasks stress us out and exhaust us, leaving little time or energy for high-value work. So how can we reclaim our time and increase our productivity on high-value work? By applying a simple test called “E.O.S.” to each item on our to-do lists.   

The “E” in E.O.S. stands for “Eliminate; the “O” is for “Outsourcing” and the “S” is for “Streamline.” As in: Can you eliminate this task on your list? If not, could you outsource it? If not, how can you streamline it?

1. For the first step — the “E” Step — your goal is to eliminate as many tasks as possible by honestly answering these questions:

  • Which of my tasks don’t bring value to the business?
  • Will anyone really miss this if I stopped doing it?  If the answer is “nobody,” definitely get rid of it.
  • Which tasks can I start saying “no” to?

2. Now, review your answers and cross out any tasks that you think should be eliminated — and don’t worry about asking for approvals at this stage. For the tasks that are left, answer these outsourcing questions:

  • Could someone else do this for me without increasing costs?
  • Is anyone else already doing this and could that person take ownership of it?
  • If I had to hand off two of my responsibilities, what do I give away and to whom?

3. For any remaining tasks on your list, apply the “S” step: determine ways to streamline those things. Ask yourself:

  • Which daily tasks could become weekly?
  • Which weekly tasks could be done monthly?
  • What steps could be eliminated from this task?
  • If I had to get the same amount of work done in half the time, what would I do differently?

On paper or on-screen, you’ve now modified or eliminated your unproductive tasks so you can improve your productivity and focus on valuable work. Maybe you’re in a leadership position and can implement these changes immediately, or you might need to make the case to your manager. In either case, be willing to test the elimination of a task for a few weeks or months, to see if anyone actually misses it. If someone does, that’s a sign that the task may be more valuable than it seemed.

My team and I use the E.O.S. test to keep us on strategy — especially when our workloads increase or there’s a personnel change. Use E.O.S. to simplify your own to-do list and avoid being distracted by low-value tasks. You’ll be able to decrease time spent on busywork and increase your productivity on work that matters.

To Learn more about Lisa contact  [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555or [email protected]