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Lead Your Team Managing

How to Reduce Busy Work for Your Team

How to Reduce Busy Work
Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

No one enjoys doing busy work, and it makes employees feel unimportant. Businesses should make the most of their resources and ensure workers are doing tasks that help the company's end goals.

"Busy work is defined as tasks that team members do that do not bring immediate value to the company," said Bill Chase, senior vice president of marketing at DentalPlans.com. "There are, however, certain tasks that may seem like busy work, such as data entry, that actually provide great value to the business."

Here are four ways you can identify busy work and reduce it from your day to day.

People love talking about their busy schedules, but that's not always something to boast about.

"I believe busy work is the product of a dated culture that based performance on how much time you spent at work rather than the quality of that work," said Shane Green president of SGEi. "Whenever I talk to managers who are working more than 12 hours a day, I always ask why. When you dig into their schedule and work, you will often find busy work at play."

Instead of asking yourself if you're busy (because the answer will always be yes), ask what you're busy with. If you're busy with work that isn't helping your bottom line, that's busy work. [Read related article: Case of the Mondays? 5 Tips on How to Be More Productive.]

For your team to be as efficient as possible, everyone needs to be on the same page with company goals.

"Being results-focused and paying close attention to the organization of work are both key factors," Chase said. "Clearly defined goals make it much easier for team members focus on what's really important and determine which tasks don't work toward the defined goals."

Chase has weekly team meetings to review to-do lists so that work isn't being duplicated and that each team is working toward a goal.

Once you've determined the goals, write down your responsibilities and review each task. Green recommends placing each task into one of the following categories, then delegate it, dump it, do it or delay it.

  • Delegate it: If a task is necessary but isn't a good use of your time, delegate it.
  • Dump it: "If this task does not make a difference or someone else would not notice if it did not get done, then dump it," Green added. "It is a great exercise every six months to challenge whether tasks, reports or processes are still necessary, especially as new technology or software becomes available."
  • Do it: Complete tasks that are valuable and impact your company's bottom line.
  • Delay it: "This is a task that will need to get done, but it is not urgent and can be completed when time permits," said Green.

Editor's note: Looking for project management software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

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While leaders of a company should try to eliminate busy work, some work that seems like busy work is unavoidable. Managers should distribute this work evenly among employees so no one feels underappreciated.

"We use Jira to streamline our marketing, creative, development and even some customer service tasks," Chase told Business News Daily. "This program allows us to see who has what projects assigned to them, and we can easily reassign [projects] to a different person or adjust deadlines as needed."

Project management software such as Basecamp and Trello allows managers to see what projects employees are working on and if a certain employee is working on too many projects. If you're interested in online project management software, read this Business News Daily guide.

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.