Working Smarter, not Harder
Follow the steps below to work more efficiently.
Step 1: Set up Your Workspace
It’s important to have a healthy and comfortable workstation. Studies show that when you set up an ergonomically-correct workspace, your productivity can improve. You’ll also be more comfortable, which helps you focus for longer.
Start by making sure that your desk and chair are comfortable. Your workstation should be well lit, and heated or cooled appropriately. It should also inspire you – you spend all day here, so it should be somewhere you enjoy being!.
Look for ways to minimize other distractions and interruptions . For example, if colleagues repeatedly pop into your office for a quick chat, talk to them one-on-one and politely tell them that you’re busy. Instead, offer to catch up with them during lunch, or have a weekly meeting to deal with their questions all in one go.
Last, make sure that you have all of the resources you need to work efficiently before you sit at your desk. Repeatedly getting up to find a file or grab a book affects both your productivity and your ability to stay focused.
Step 2: Schedule Tasks to Match Your Energy Flow
Think about how your energy levels go up and down throughout the day. All of us have certain times when we’re more engaged, just as there are periods when our energy naturally falls, making it more difficult to stay on task.
You’ll get more done in less time, and produce higher-quality work, by organizing your work around these natural ebbs and flows. Schedule in difficult tasks, or those that require a lot of focus, when your energy level is up.
To invigorate yourself during your low-energy periods, drink water, take a brisk walk outside, or – where possible – spend a few minutes meditating. If it’s practical, take a nap during your lunch break: research has found that a short sleep fights fatigue and improves your memory.
Step 3: Eliminate Unimportant Work
Not all tasks are created equal. Some are valuable and truly worth your time, while others are unimportant and, in the long run, add little – if any – value to your organization.
. After a week or two, look at each of your tasks carefully. Which ones help you to achieve organizational and career goals? And which of them, really, are a waste of time?
If you identify tasks that aren’t a priority but still need doing, you could delegate them to someone else. When you work on activities that are important, resist the urge to multitask . This can slow you down in the long run, and increase the likelihood that you’ll do a bad job.
Step 4: Have Efficient Meetings
Professors Nicholas Romano and Jay Nunamaker conducted an analysis of meetings attended by managers and knowledge workers. They found that these groups of professionals spend 25 to 80 percent of their time in meetings. You likely fall somewhere in the middle of this range, which still means that you’re in meetings for a large part of your working week.
Invest time in writing an agenda so you will have more effective meetings , and make sure that your objectives are clear and relevant.
Next, think carefully about who should attend. Write a list, and check each person’s role. Does everyone really need to be there? The fewer the people attending the meeting, the more efficient it’s likely to be.
When scheduling the meeting, give yourself half as much time as you think you’ll need. If you believe that you need an hour, allow 30 minutes. Following Parkinson’s Law, you’ll focus better if you know that you’re working to a tighter timescale.
If you get more done in less time, you can increase your productivity, which can lead to feelings of job satisfaction and happiness.
Use effective time-management strategies to work more efficiently, and make your meetings shorter and more effective.