Just because you are working does not mean that you are getting work done. Have you ever finished a work day and thought, “I felt stressed all day, but didn’t really accomplish anything?” If this is a pattern in your life, or if you simply want to become more efficient, pay attention to these 5 things efficient people do differently:
Efficient people create quiet times and eliminate distractions.
Did you know that it takes your brain about 25 minutes to get back on track after one interruption? Yes, that includes looking at a text message and answering someone “real quick.” A study from the University of California, Irvine, found that a typical office worker switched tasks or had an interruption every three minutes and 5 seconds. Your brain cannot run at full efficiency with unexpected distractions moving your focus all over the place.
Keep track of how many interruptions you experience in your regular work routine. Your brain probably never gets the chance to really focus on a task or project. Try to minimize distractions by ignoring emails and phone calls, shutting your door, working from home, or getting to work an hour early. Use certain days or dedicate a portion of your regular work day to focus on a particular task. Distractions like an email popping up in your peripheral view or a beep from an incoming text can derail your efficiency. Create a dedicated quiet time to put your phone on silent and close down your email. You might feel shocked at how much you can accomplish!
Efficient people segment their time.
Efficient people organize their time and dedicate specific slots for certain tasks. For example, during our busiest season, I dedicate Mondays for project kickoffs. I utilize late afternoon hours to prepare and distribute agendas for the rest of the week. Catching up on my inbox concludes my Monday. I reserve Tuesdays and Wednesdays for meetings; I take notes during my meetings and check my emails a few times each day. Thursdays are my quiet time, and the day I get the most work done! On Friday, I catch up on email, track progress of each project, and prepare for next week.
Try splitting your week or your day up to increase your efficiency. Try working on a project or completing phone calls for the first two hours of the day. Use the late morning to read emails and respond. For salespeople, use Mondays to book meetings for the next few weeks, Tuesday-Thursday to attend sales calls, and Fridays to catch up. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it!
Efficient people only touch things once.
Remember that pile of mail sitting on your counter? Or the email you have opened three times and then saved for later? The most efficient people touch things one time, and complete the task immediately. They bring their mail inside and deal with it right away. They open their email and respond instead of saving it for later. Force yourself to touch things once and watch your productivity skyrocket!
Efficient people do not attend unnecessary meetings.
The most effective people attend as few meetings as possible, and keep tight agendas for those they participate in. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review reported that one executive meeting each week used up 300,000 hours of time for an unnamed “large company” per year. The average office worker spends 62 hours per month in meetings, and considers half of the time a waste of resources. Imagine what you could do with an extra 30 hours per month! Eliminate unnecessary meetings from your schedule, or see if another team member who is attending can cover for you. For the meetings you simply cannot avoid, keep them as efficient as possible using these proven 9 tips.
Efficient people do not put things off.
Efficient individuals do not allow tasks to hang over their head. The most efficient workers begin their day by identifying three to five things they want and/or need to accomplish. They tackle the most complicated or daunting tasks first thing in the morning when their mind is alert and they have the most energy instead of waiting until later in the day. Getting ahead of these tasks not only increases efficiency, but it increases the quality of your work and reduces stress. Instead of rushing to complete a dreaded task at the last minute, you will complete it well and probably enjoy the rest of your day more.
Efficient individuals understand that their time is a valuable, diminishing resource. They use it effectively, and make the most of each day. Increasing your efficiency will not only make you more successful at work; it will reduce your stress level and allow you to enjoy your time off more!