What exactly is being efficient or efficiency? By definition, efficient means working in a competent and well organized way with synonyms such as organized, methodical, systematic and productive. In a general sense, it is the ability to do things well and successfully without waste. We often hear people wanting to be more productive or efficient at work in order to complete tasks given to them in a timely manner and to make sure that there are no wasted resources. To help you become the most efficient you, here are some tips we’d like to share to help you be efficient AND stay efficient.
1No to Multitasking
The myth of multitasking states that everyone can and are good at multitasking. Unfortunately, that is not true. Not everyone is good at multitasking. Actually, only a handful of people can actually multitask and can focus on more than one task at a time especially if those tasks require depth and focus. Efficient and productive people know that the less distractions you have, the less time it takes to complete the task, this means less mistakes and wasted effort too.
2Wake up early
You’ll need to break up with your bed. This habit will help you strengthen your willpower and will help you accomplish more when it’s time to work.
A lot of people have the tendency to think that they can take on all of the tasks that are assigned to them. How wonderful if that were true. Unfortunately, most of us are only human and can only work on a number of projects at a time. So much productivity is wasted if a person takes on more tasks than he can actually handle. Please do not make an inspiration out of people who overload themselves with work. Efficient people know when enough is enough and are extremely good at delegating tasks to other coworkers who can and will perform them better.
4Create a standard Routine
Everything has to work like clockwork, but not really. People often feel that their schedule drives them when it should be the other way around. Sure, routines can be boring, but routines also help you achieve a more disciplined approach and help you get ready for more important events. The more control you have over your schedule and routine, the more ready you are to face the unexpected.
It’s important not to forget to keep yourself hydrated, especially when working. Being dehydrated means you’ll have less energy to accomplish tasks. Make sure to keep a bottle of water nearby to keep yourself healthy and hydrated.
Admit it, no one wants to work in a cluttered space. Keys, pens and other knick knacks that are scattered all over the place can cause distractions and contribute to wasted time. Learn from successful people and start organizing. Make a home for all the things that you have. Organize them in a way that you can find what you are looking for easily. It might take you a bit more time to stack all your papers and put your keys and pens in their place, but it’ll be beneficial for you and your work.
7Oppose popular opinion
Being a contrarian means you reject the social norm, which is not a bad thing. Going to movies on Fridays and Saturday nights means more people. Hitting the gym when it’s full means you’ll need to wait for the other person to finish just to have your turn on the treadmill. Doing stuff at off peak hours will save you time and help you get things done quicker.
8Take a break
It’s okay to take a break at some point. If you’re tired, get up and stretch a bit. Get yourself a snack. People pleasers think that not taking a break will prevent them from accomplishing the tasks that they are assigned, the truth is that sacrificing your own downtime will prevent you from detract you from productivity. Efficient people make sure that they rest and recover in between to help them at their peak. So, go ahead and take a break. You deserve it.
9Planning is everything
People often waste effort if they do not have a clear path to success. This leads to impatience, which is the main enemy of efficiency. Really efficient people know that it is important to take time to research and break down a task into basic steps to consistently achieve success. Planning takes time, but considering the process and challenges in advanced will help and make a clear direction for you.
10Set a time Limit
Set a time for each of your tasks so you will know how much time it takes to complete one task versus how much time you are actually wasting. This will ensure that you will stick to your work schedule. Try logging your time and activities for a few days, then try spending the next few days setting specific times for your activities and try to work and reduce the times with similar output. For example days one to three you spend 45 minutes for one task, try and achieve to do that task in 30 minutes for days four to seven. You’ll be surprised.
11Communication is the key
Poor communication is a time waster and will potentially be the reason why your project is a disaster. An email or a phone call transmitting bad instructions will add many unnecessary hours to a task. Consider your objectives when deciding to make a phone call. Craft your email with purpose using the exact language needed to get the desired effect. Sure, it takes more time in the beginning, but it will reduce the amount of time needed for a project.
12Sell your TV
Watching other people get successful does not help. Instead, go ahead and do the things that will help get you to where you want to be. Sure, inspirations are needed, but most of the time, you end up comparing yourself to those more successful than you. In the end, it will only contribute to wasted time and effort when you could have spent that time being more productive.
13Two minute rule
Entrepreneur Steve Olenski follows the two minute rule. He recommends to make the most out of the small windows of time that you have to work on a task. The idea is that if you have a task that can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. As per Olenski, completing the task right away takes lesser time than having to go back to it later.
14Decorate your space
Though it sounds unlikely, according to some studies, having an aesthetically pleasing office can help increase efficiency by up to 15 percent. So by all means, put up that picture of your cat on your desk, jazz up your office space with scented candles, flowers or really anything that makes you feel happy. Just don’t go too overboard with the decorations.
15Ninety minute intervals
According to a research made at the Florida State University, people who work in 90 minute intervals are more productive and efficient than those who tend to work 90 plus minutes. Research also finds that Top Performers tend to work no more than just 4.5 hours per day. So don’t overwork yourself.
16No to the illusion of perfection
There is no such thing as perfect. Instead of wasting your time chasing after something that is unlikely to be true, focus on how you can perform your task to the best of your ability instead. When done, move on. If there is a need to improve on your task, you can always come back for it later and do some adjustments or improvements.
Have a plan of attack for each day, then do your best not to stray from that plan. It is best to set aside a couple of minutes to check your emails and respond to them, but your emails should not determine how your day will go.
18No to meetings
Without a doubt, meetings are the biggest reason why tasks are left undone and why deadlines are not met but we continue to book meetings and attend them anyway. According to studies, an average employee spends approximately 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. Before booking a meeting, determine if the tasks can be achieved by sending an email, or arranging a conference call instead.
19Turn off your notifications
Admit it, whenever you hear that “ping” sound your phone makes, or whenever you see that new mail notification message, you can’t help but take a peek at the message or email that was sent to you. During work hours, it’s best to turn off your notifications. Instead, set aside a few minutes each day to check on emails and messages. This is being proactive (see tip #14).
20Disappear for a few hours
Do not make yourself available to everyone. Even the briefest interruptions can cause a change in your work pattern and will cause you to become distracted thus a drop in efficiency. Minimizing interruptions may mean shutting your door or placing your phone in silent mode. You can think, create and plan. Most of all, zero distractions and pure focus.
21Consider your workspace
Even if you have an outside office or you work from home, nothing’s worse than having a terrible work environment. Optimizing your workspace can make all the difference in the world and help you achieve more.
Find out what motivates you and use that to your advantage. It may be as simple as having your favorite cup of coffee in the morning that helps you be calm and put you in a good mood or taking a cold shower to help you wake up and promote blood circulation, whatever it is that makes you want to get up and get to work, make that a part of your routine. This may sound weird, but it’s really hard to say it doesn’t work once you’ve tried it out.
23Invest in technology
We all have the tendency to get irritated once our computer starts freezing up and slowing down during the simplest of tasks. They shouldn’t be slowing you down. Instead, your computer should be helping you make your work easier. The most practical thing to do is to invest and purchase a laptop or a pc that you actually need. If your company won’t allow your personal laptop or you cannot afford it at the moment, try upgrading your hard drive or deleting programs you do not use or ask your IT guy for help.
24No to Negativity
Find out what demotivates you and do something about it. Nothing’s worse than falling prey to unnecessary stress and failing to complete your tasks on time. If anything’s bothering you, stop what you’re doing and remove that negativity from your workspace.
25Personal and Work Life boundaries
Separating your work life with your personal life will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Keeping your work life separate from your personal life helps you leave your career related stress out of your personal relaxation time, you deserve that.
26Determine your Most Important Task
It’s important to know what your most important task is. Make sure you take the time to identify the most important things that you have to get done. Knowing what tasks you will be doing prior to getting started will help you be more focused and efficient.
27Find your sweet spot
Most people aren’t morning people at all. If you’re more productive at 2p.m. try and build your schedule around that time. Try and get as much work as you can during those times that you feel more productive. Once you’ve found your sweet spot, make sure you maintain a schedule around it.
Taking notes is very important since it means there will no longer be any lost ideas just because you forgot to bring a pen and pad with you. Record everything that comes to mind, but that doesn’t mean that you need to jot down the useless stuff when it comes to mind. Keywords or the important phrases will help you make sure that your notes are organized and clear to understand. Even if you do not have a pen and paper with you at all times, you can use your phone to make sure no brilliant idea gets lost.
29Take Advantage of Procrastination
You know that feeling when you have a looming deadline and the task that was given to you a week ago that you can’t seem to do gets done in 30 minutes tops? This procrastination tactic is called Parkinson Law, named after Cyril Northcote Parkinson. He says that “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.” Of course, this does not mean that you’ll need to procrastinate for every task. Make sure you find your schedule sweet spot since most of the time, rushing can lead to disastrous results.
30Cross things off your to do list
This makes you feel more accomplished as you cross tasks off of your to-do list. It also helps you keep track of your productivity.
31Enjoy your days off
Enjoying your time with family and friends while doing activities that have nothing to do with work will allow you to be more efficient and productive when you get back to work. This will help you feel more refreshed, well rested and ready to take on new tasks.
With these tips, you’ll be able to put extra hours to good and efficient use. Also, don’t forget to take a break from time to time. Best of luck!