It’s Not You, It’s Your To-Do List

by Lisa Bodell for [email protected]

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 outsourceit? If not, how can you streamline it?

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?

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:

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