8 ways to improve work efficiency
Have you ever looked up at the clock at the end of the workday and felt that you simply didn’t get enough done? Are you working at home or on your commute and still not hitting your target outcome? Why is it that you haven’t yet discovered how to improve efficiency at work? Work efficiency is a skill learned over time, but there are a few easy ways you can increase efficiency at work.
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1. Set reasonable goals
Setting goals is critical to success. Although we can’t predict the future, we can create goals to help shape our paths and this can be an effective way to improve efficiency. But sometimes, we create goals that are too lofty, or perhaps we haven’t set a realistic deadline. It’s great to have a compelling goal, but you also need to assess how much time and resources your goal requires. We often visualize our goal and think we can skip from step A to Z, when in reality there are lots of steps in between that need to be accounted for. Keep your end goal (Z) in mind, but don’t overestimate the importance of steps B, C, D and so on.
Setting reasonable goals also helps you focus – both on the goal itself and the desired outcome. When your goal is too lofty to attain or is not defined, you can’t clarify it and properly focus your mind and efforts on it.
2. Tweak your time management practices
When was the last time you assessed your time management skills? If you find yourself feeling buried in work, jumping from task to task with no clear strategy or struggling with work efficiency, it’s time to take a step back. Familiarize yourself with processes like chunking to group tasks together based on outcome so you feel less overwhelmed and more organized. You can also employ a strategy that Tony calls No Extra Time (N.E.T.) in which you use instances where you would otherwise be wasting time – such as during your commute or while you’re waiting to pick your kids up from school – to accomplish small tasks like listening to podcasts or reading important work documents. When you improve efficiency through time management skills, you reduce stress as well as get more things done, creating a loop that enables you to accomplish even more.
3. Ditch your digital devices
We spend the majority of our day staring at a screen of some kind. While much of this may be part of your work duties, digital devices can also be a major distraction and social media platforms can even harm your health. Improve your work efficiency by stepping away from your smartphone or computer. Bring a journal or notepad to your next meeting and see if your thoughts are able to flow more freely. There’s nothing inherently wrong with digital devices, but providing yourself with a small break from your normal processes can challenge your mind to work in new, productive ways.
If you find yourself being distracted by social media or other sites but still need access to your computer to get work done, disconnect from the Internet or shut down your web browser for chunks of time. When you can’t easily click over to Facebook or another distracting site, you can focus on the task at hand and vastly increase efficiency. Putting your phone out of sight and on silent while you work on a project is another way to improve efficiency at work – think of all you can get down without scrolling through mobile apps or being tempted to discuss weekend plans with your friends and loved ones.
4. Learn to say “No”
Whether it’s because we feel pressure from ourselves or those around us, we sometimes take on tasks that we don’t need to and it hurts our work efficiency. We’re so set on proving that we’re capable of multitasking that we take on tasks we could just as easily delegate to others. We often hear the word “No” and think of missed opportunities or failure, but that’s not the case at all. Learn how to say no when your plate is already full or you simply lack interest in a task. If you’re in a position to delegate smaller tasks to those around you, do so. Freeing up your schedule allows you to focus more closely on assignments that really matter to you and will help you increase efficiency. You’ll also feel more pride in your work when you are accomplishing tasks that are in your wheelhouse or hold meaning for you instead of spreading yourself too thin on multiple projects that you find uninteresting.
5. Take breaks
Stuck on an idea? Feeling like you have so much work that you don’t know where to begin? Many people are unable to improve efficiency because they’ve reached a mental roadblock. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s time to take a break. Do something completely unrelated to the task at hand. Go on a walk. Do some yoga. Listen to music. Where focus goes, energy flows and if your focus is stuck on a project that you can’t make any headway on, your energy becomes blocked and work efficiency comes to a halt.
Changing your focus can help you to change your state, so when you do return to work, you feel refreshed and ready to tackle your project with new eyes. You don’t have to wait until you become blocked to increase efficiency through breaks, though. Build in multiple breaks during your workday to give yourself time to relax and regroup and you’ll find that work efficiency naturally increases.
6. Create a routine you love
Success can feel tough to attain until you find the habits needed to do so. People who consistently accomplish their goals by improving work efficiency do so by creating sustainable habits. Is your routine serving your goals? Develop a routine that puts you in the best possible state to be productive at work. Maybe that means taking five minutes each morning to practice mindfulness, or perhaps you need to hit the office gym for 30 minutes at lunch to release some stress and change up your physical state. One of Tony’s habits is a morning priming exercise where he adjusts his thoughts and emotions for the day. Understanding the mind-body connection can help you see that a mindful priming exercise not only helps you improve efficiency, but it can also help you unlock an extraordinary life. When you create a routine that makes you feel happy, healthy and clear-minded, you set yourself up for success.
7. Let go of perfection
Perfection is an illusion that causes stress, decreases work efficiency and can lead to limiting beliefs that impede your level of success. Understanding and accepting that nothing will ever be done perfectly helps you get tasks done without crippling expectations. It also helps you embrace setbacks as learning experiences and beat procrastination. To help curb your perfectionism, listen to and alter your self-talk. Treat yourself with kindness and cut yourself some slack if you don’t perform up to your high standards in some cases. When you let go of perfectionism and start focusing instead on progress, you will increase efficiency as well as overall well-being.
8. Improve your environment
How to improve efficiency at work is sometimes all about your environment. Is yours set up for success? First, look at the functionality of your workspace. Are you constantly walking two offices over to retrieve papers from the printer? Are you interrupted by ringing phones or intercom announcements? Is your desk a cluttered mess that gives you anxiety as soon as you walk into your office? Next, look at how pleasant and inspiring your space is. Do you have music playing that sparks your creativity? Is there artwork on the walls that puts you in a positive mood? If you want to increase efficiency, make sure your office environment is conducive to it. If you’re unsure how to set up your office in a pleasing and efficient manner, consider working with an interior designer or functional office consultant for advice.
You can increase efficiency in the office by setting compelling goals, learning how to manage your time and developing thoughtful habits. To learn more about achieving professional success, attend Business Mastery. The multi-day event teaches you how to find personal fulfillment while taking professional strides.