How unplanned task management work kills your effectiveness

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 01

It’s tough enough meeting your SMART Goals on the job. It’s worse with all of the distractions that happen at work that prevent you from being productive. But unplanned tasks are real work that take you away from being the most productive for the day.

Unplanned tasks focuses on the urgent, not important

Every time you take on an unplanned task, it takes you away from accomplishing what you wanted for the day. That lack of accomplishment, over time, seriously erodes your confidence to get things done. The unplanned tasks claws at your discipline to plan the work and work the plan. The more unplanned tasks you have, the more out of control you feel and the less you end up doing. We tend to only work on the urgent and relenting on the important.

Unplanned tasks are the enemy of great

Just as “good” is the enemy of “great,” so are unplanned tasks in your work. Our highest work effort should be on accomplishing our goals. While the unplanned tasks might be about our goals, what happens is the task gets done when we weren’t planning to do it, most likely isn’t as great of work as we would do if planned, and interrupts what we thought was most important for the day. The more unplanned tasks you have, the more average your performance.

Unplanned tasks lower your performance rating

Over time, enough unplanned tasks that are done that don’t relate directly to your goals drive down your ability to do your goals. Not achieving your goals is the worst position you can be in when it comes to performance review time. Worse, when the unplanned tasks are coming from your manager, your most important customer, it’s tough to push back in a way that doesn’t appear rebellious.

In business today, there are more unplanned tasks and “emergency-du-joirs” than ever before. I know that. I get that. But part of mastering our work is proactively working to reduce the unplanned tasks in our own and our department’s work so that we can concentrate on the highest level of work — completing our goals.

How do you reduce unplanned tasks in your workplace?