Tips for Increasing Efficiency at Work
There is a range of factors that can play into how effectively you are able to fulfill your role and how efficiently you can handle tasks. However, your own ability to be efficient is going to be a key factor, regardless of environmental pressures on you. If you’re looking to improve your career, then becoming more productive is one of the single best ways to do it. Here, we’re going to look at some of the steps you can take to be a more efficient you and to see your career improve as a result.
Be precise with your goals
If you want to know how efficient you are being, then you need to have goals that are precise and trackable. You can’t see how much you’re improving if you don’t know the metrics by which to measure your efficiency. As such, you should set SMART goals (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based) for yourself and work out which KPIs you can track to see how productive you are being. For one, having achievable and realistic goals that you then fulfill will improve your morale and motivation to keep going. You will also be able to see how any of the tips below work in terms of improving your efficiency.
Learn some time management skills
Efficiency is all about preventing wasted time. You can’t do this on the fly entirely (though some methods we will go into later can help,) you have to plan for it in advance. To that end, you should learn some time management skills. There are different approaches to this, such as the rapid planning method that teaches you to identify and prioritize the most important processes to your workday and to make sure that you plan out the time you’re going to spend on those tasks first and foremost. Another way to improve your time management is to “batch” similar processes, or tasks that use the same skills, together, so that you can better stay “in your groove” rather than always having to change your working mindset to new tasks, which can take some time.
Make sure that your workspace is physically and digitally organized
One of the most important steps to efficiency in work is making sure that you’re able to quickly find the resources and tools that you need and to set off to work at a good speed. To that end, having clutter getting in your way is going to prevent this. This includes having a cluttered desk or filing system that makes it difficult to sort and find what documents or tools you need. However, it also includes having a cluttered digital space. Make sure that you’re able to find a digital file organization system that works for you, that makes it easy to find the files that you need when you need them.
Have backups for when your regular work methods won’t work
This is one lesson that the entire working world should have learned by now. There are going to be times that we are unable to complete our work in the way that we would normally prefer. The tools, locations, and resources we normally use won’t always be accessible and, as a result, you should make sure that you prepare the alternatives that can allow you to more flexibly handle your work. This includes things like backup data storage and online tools such as Cloud software packages. These can better allow you to get your work elsewhere using the same tools and data that you normally would. Whatever you can backup, as an individual, you should.
Take the systemic approach to how you handle work processes
There are already disciplines that take a close look at the processes and tasks that you complete in your day-to-day work, and help you understand the ways that you might be able to improve them. A great example is Lean Six Sigma, one of the most famous, involving reducing lost time and fixing inefficiencies in your work to help you improve process output. Taking a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course might be able to help you better see how you can approach each and every process that you work with. As a result, you will be able to spot the barriers to inefficiency and self-sufficiently be able to remove them, which can greatly improve your performance at any given task.
Focus on one thing at a time
Multitasking might sound impressive, being able to handle multiple kinds of work at once. However, the truth is that it always comes at a productivity and efficiency cost. If you think you are able to handle multiple tasks at a good pace, then just imagine how quickly you would be able to handle tasks if you focus on them one at a time. Not only does it prevent you from crossing wires between processes, but the positive feedback of fully completing one task before moving on to the next can help you manage your motivation, which is just as important to your overall productivity as being more efficient is. Try to make multitasking a habit of the past, as best as you can.
Don’t let distractions take over
Sometimes, distraction can be healthy. Unplanned distraction is, however, the enemy of efficiency. If your attention gets wrapped up in something out of your work, not only does it cost you time, but it costs you focus, which can make it so much harder to get back into the tasks that you were doing. There are tools that can help you measure how much distraction you deal with each day, and you can use those tools to label those distractions so that you can find the right ways to deal with them. It may be that you need to block some websites that steal your attention, wear headphones to prevent background noise from reaching you, or even use “do not disturb” signs to avoid being reached by colleagues.
Better efficiency at work means better results. It means a better ability to understand and adapt to different processes and projects. More importantly, it means a new mindset related to how you work.