power your advice

Want to be Productive? Forget the Low-Hanging Fruit

If your desk is anything like my desk and your calendar is anything like my calendar, you probably feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start to get it all done.

Once upon a time, my advice was to start with the “low-hanging fruit.” Knocking out the mindless, easy stuff gives you as sense of accomplishment that helps you to build momentum to tackle the bigger, more time-consuming, mentally tougher tasks.

Not anymore.

It’s time to forget the low-hanging fruit. Here’s why:

  • There will always be low-hanging fruit … The easy mindless tasks of our days don’t go away. They keep turning up like bad pennies. Don’t give them more importance than they deserve.
  • Low-hanging fruit eventually drops off the tree … Sometimes, if you leave the easy, mindless tasks alone, they will resolve themselves without you having to do anything.
  • Anyone can grab the low-hanging fruit … The easy, mindless tasks can usually be delegated to someone else to address and resolve.
  • I am not advocating ignoring emails, voicemails, snail mail or administrative tasks altogether. I am suggesting you start putting these tasks in proper perspective and priority in planning your days and your work.

    Related: There Are Lingering Hurtful Feelings Floating Around: What Employers Can Do

    If the goal is to add value and advance strategy in our workplaces, the low-hanging fruit isn’t going to get us there. Instead, it just ends up in the way! We only have 8-10 hours in our offices each day — and only 3-4 of those can be spent legitimately doing deep, mindful work. Low-hanging fruit and the stuff that comes from it usually end up sucking all the productivity, energy, mind space, and progress from us. By the time we get through dealing with the so-called easy, mindless tasks, our day is half over and we’re no closer to accomplishing the things we really need to do!

    Enough! Forget the low-hanging fruit!

    Don’t give low-hanging fruit tasks more than 90 minutes of the day — 30 minutes at the start, 30 minutes after lunch and 30 minutes before the end of the day. Set a timer for yourself if you need to.

  • If it is something you need to deal with immediately, determine where to place the issue among your other priorities
  • If it is not something you need to deal with immediately, set a reminder to respond based on the timeframe you feel is appropriate
  • If it is not something you need to deal with at all, forward the issue along to the person who should
  • Then delete/destroy the item and move onto to the more important things.

    Because important things are important. Give those things the best of you, not the rest of you.

    Free yourself. Forget the low-hanging fruit.