“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs
Do you love your job? Absolutely everything about your job? Thought so. Whether it’s admin, self-promotion or negotiation no job is perfect. But there are ways to manage your workload so you can do more of what you like and get more from what you do.
I recently coached a small business owner – let’s call her Sue – who was struggling to cope with how many responsibilities she had as a sole trader. I introduced her to the concept of the 3 bucket challenge. If you’d like a higher level of job satisfaction you may want to try this too.
What is the 3 bucket challenge?
First off, grab paper and a pen, or fire up Word. Write the words “Bucket 1”, “Bucket 2” and “Bucket 3” on separate pages.
• Under Bucket 1 write all the parts of your job you like or love doing.
• Under Bucket 2 write all the tasks you absolutely hate doing, or find really tedious.
• Under Bucket 3 write the things you do without complaint, but which don’t bring you any real enjoyment.
It’s important to make sure that absolutely everything in the remit of your role is in one of the buckets. One way to do this is to identify everything you do over the course of a month and allocate it to a bucket as you go.
Now we have our three buckets the next step is to focus on them one by one.
“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” David Ogilvy
What’s in bucket 2? (It’s time to eliminate tedious tasks)
Bucket 2 is the one to tackle first. The trick is to explore how to get rid of these tasks. Can you delegate them to someone who enjoys them? Pay a VA / pass them to an assistant, or to someone else to do them? Find a more efficient way to do them by yourself?
In some cases you might identify that there is no value to doing them at all and simply stop. (This approach might be risky if you’re not self-employed as you might find that your perception of what has no value is different to your employer’s.)
Bucket 3: are you sure?
Now check in on bucket three and makes sure these are tasks you really don’t mind doing. Are you happy with them? Do they add value to your role? If so, it’s worth keeping them and considering a more efficient way to deal with them. If not, treat them the same as the contents of bucket two.
Lots of fun with Bucket 1
Now we’ve dealt with the tedious stuff, it’s time for the fun bit. Turn to the things you enjoy doing in bucket 1.
Have you ever thought before that you can build on these tasks to get even more personal satisfaction out of your role, and simultaneously be more valuable to your organisation?
I challenged Sue to a bit of creative brainstorming. She drew pictures and threw words out at random to stimulate the creative part of her brain and generated great ideas as to how she could do more of what she loves about her job – PR and marketing.
(Remember: Bucket 1 doesn’t yet hold everything you enjoy about your job – it’s got everything you enjoy about your job so far. This exercise is designed to add more. So dream big and imagine how you could push the boundaries to really get the most out of your job. )
Finally, follow up and implement your great ideas
Now you’ve got a list of wonderful ideas you can spend some time making them into plans of action.
Narrow down your long brainstorming list to a shorter one of ideas that are ingenious and feasible. From this short list, pick one or two to tackle first. Identify the first point of action you can take to make those ideas into reality and schedule it into your calendar. Once you’ve brought this idea to life, schedule action on the next idea on your list.
What happened with Sue?
“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before”. Franz Kafka
Sue’s second bucket contained admin and processing orders, so we found a way to outsource both. By getting rid of the tasks that were weighing her down, we freed up more time for the PR and marketing that she loved doing. Her sales went up and so did her happiness levels.
How happy and productive could you be in your job if you took the 3 Bucket Challenge?
When you do this activity with your team, I’d love to hear about it. What was in your love-to-do bucket? And what did you choose to put in bucket 2? If you’d like help to love your job, I’d be delighted to have a chat with you about facilitating a 3 bucket session for you. Just