Effort versus value is a concept that is relevant to many aspects of our lives, including work. Often, we can become bogged down in tasks that require a lot of effort but don’t actually contribute much value to our work or the organisation we work for. Therefore, it is important to reassess, prioritise, and tweak our efforts to ensure we are getting the most value out of our work.
There’s a lot of work that we do, and it’s really important to prioritise that work and to be able to have a framework to decide what needs to be done now and maybe what might need to be done later or maybe not at all. So I want to show you this decision-making matrix based on the input and the effort that’s put into the work we do and then the output or the value that the end user receives, like what are the benefits for the end user.
So I’ll take you through each of them. So we’ve got input on the X axis or the effort that’s made, and on the Y axis, we have the value or the output of that work.
Let’s go through each one.
Low both: Ignore/eliminate / low priority
Down the bottom, if we have low effort and low value, it’s really a task or a project that really is very low priority and can probably be ignored. Maybe it can be eliminated altogether. One of the first steps to achieving this balance is to learn how to identify and ignore low-priority tasks. It can be tempting to try to tackle everything that comes our way, but doing so can be a recipe for burnout and frustration. Instead, we need to be able to identify which tasks and responsibilities are truly essential, and which ones can be put on the back burner or even eliminated altogether.
Low value, high effort: Reassess
In the next box on the bottom, if something is high effort and of lower value, you really need to reassess whether this is something you need to spend your energy on. To do this, we need to engage in regular reassessments of our work. This means taking a step back from our daily routine and taking a critical look at what we are doing and why we are doing it. We can ask ourselves questions like: what are our long-term goals? Which tasks are most aligned with those goals? Which tasks are taking up too much time or energy, and which ones are not adding enough value?
High value, high effort: Prioritise
In the box above that, if something is of high value but is of high effort, then you probably need to prioritise this work as something that you want to work on to be able to make it simpler, to be able to shift that into the next box. Once we have identified the tasks that are truly essential, the next step is to prioritize them. This means allocating our time and energy in a way that is most likely to help us achieve our goals. We can use frameworks like Eisenhower’s Urgent-Important Matrix to help us determine which tasks are most urgent and which ones are most important and allocate our time accordingly.
High value, low effort: Tweak, celebrate
On the top left, if something is of high value and of little input or of little effort, then this is a win. You can celebrate success. And maybe in this box, you might just want to tweak things a little bit to streamline it even further. Finally, we need to be willing to tweak our approach as needed. The reality is that our priorities and goals will change over time, and our approach to work will need to adapt accordingly. We should regularly revisit our reassessments and prioritize our tasks, and be willing to make changes when we realize that our current approach is not working.
I hope that’s a useful framework for you in prioritising and making decisions based on the effort required and the value given to the end user.
Achieving a balance between effort and value requires us to be mindful, strategic, and adaptable. By regularly reassessing our work, prioritizing our tasks, and tweaking our approach as needed, we can make the most of our time and energy and achieve our goals more effectively. If you’re struggling to find this balance in your work, reach out to us for help and guidance. Our team is here to support you in achieving your goals and living your best life.