Home Business Insights & Advice How to work smarter (not harder) by prioritizing efficiency

How to work smarter (not harder) by prioritizing efficiency

by John Saunders
1st Sep 21 2:55 pm

If you want to maximise your output and position yourself as one of the top employees at your company, it starts with doing the little things right. 

More specifically, you’d do well to prioritise efficiency and productivity. 

What does it mean to be efficient?

Efficiency isn’t as complicated as we make it out to be. In reality, it’s a very simple concept.

As Tony Robbins puts it, “Work efficiency is the ability to get the most output from the least possible input. It means doing more with less. Working smarter, not harder. When you improve efficiency, you’re able to get a larger output from the same amount of input – or even less. For employees, this means being able to get more done in a finite amount of time: the workday.”

If you want to get technical, efficiency can be calculated by taking output and dividing it by input. The output is what is produced over a given period of time, while the input is the time it took to produce. Multiply the result by 100 and that’s your efficiency in percentage form.

Four ways to become more efficient

If the goal is to become a more efficient employee for your company, you can take a few recommended steps. Let’s explore some of them:

1. Set a daily agenda

Productivity should never be assumed. If you don’t wake up each morning with a clear set of goals and action steps, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be as efficient as you possibly can.

For best results, create a daily agenda the night before. Then review/modify this agenda immediately upon waking. Ideally, your daily agenda is split into three categories: must do, should do, and would like to do. You start with the must do tasks and then tackle as many of the should do tasks as you can. 

If there’s still time left over at the end of the day, you can dip into the would like to do tasks.

2. Avoid unnecessary meetings

Few things will destroy your productivity quite like ill-timed meetings. While they’re often disguised as productivity sessions, the reality is that the majority of meetings are a big fat waste of time. 

If you believe your presence isn’t necessary at a particular meeting, don’t be afraid to voice that concern. (Especially if it’s a recurring daily/weekly meeting.) See if there’s a way for you to simply access the meeting notes afterward. This could save you hours of time each week.

3. Use electronic signatures

Stop using outdated processes that require long lead time and lots of steps. For example, it’s time to stop using wet signatures. Instead, replace them with electronic signatures that can be securely signed from anywhere and at any time. Best of all, there’s no printing, scanning, or faxing required. Multiple parties can all sign a single document without any slow-downs in the process.

4. Clean out your inbox

Your email inbox is weighing you down. It’s zapping your focus and forcing you to switch gears and mentally refocus every time a notification pops up. Thankfully, this issue can be remediated by cleaning out your inbox.

While it may sound impossible, the goal should be to get your inbox to zero messages at the end of every day (and to keep it that way). This is unofficially known as Operation Inbox Zero.

The key to a clean inbox is to unsubscribe from any email lists you don’t need and to create a fast-triage system for handling new emails as they arrive. In essence, every email goes through the following process:

  • If the message requires no action, archive it immediately.
  • If the message requires a simple reply that can be handled in 60 seconds or less, respond immediately and then archive.
  • If the message requires some thought, planning, or work before it can be replied to, snooze it to a time when you’ll be able to handle it.

Your approach might look slightly different, but this is a good place to begin. If nothing else, it gives you a systematic approach to managing your inbox. (Which is something that none of your co-workers have.)

Set yourself up for success

Efficiency alone won’t guarantee success. However, it’s an integral factor in successful outcomes. If you can learn how to do more with less, you’ll always have your pick of job opportunities.

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