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How to Increase Your Efficiency at Work: 12 Tips
Having a full time job can be stressful and demanding and there are seemingly never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Long To-Do lists and constant meetings can make it very hard to accomplish everything you need to get done in a timely fashion. Though difficult, it is not impossible to be efficient at work.
Your productivity can be greatly improved by figuring out habits that will help you more efficiently. Being efficient at work won't just improve your productivity and make you look good in front of your boss – it will also give you the sense of accomplishment you need to stay focused and work hard. Below are 12 tips that are sure to make you more efficient. Don't forget to take the quiz at the end!
1: Declutter that Desk
Be honest, how messy is your desk? When was the last time you took a comprehensive inventory of everything in your work space and decluttered? You may be surprised what a difference a good cleaning makes. Take thirty minutes out of your work day to organize and declutter your desk. Create folders, rearrange office supplies, and throw out old files until your work space is tidy and manageable. Creating an organized environment will allow you to find items easier and concentrate more on your day-to-day tasks.
2: To-Do or Not To-Do
"To Do" lists can be your life saver. For some people daily task lists are easier; for some weekly ones do the trick. As more items are added to your plate, add them to your list. By creating a list of tasks, you can gain visibility into all of your projects, helping you manage your time more efficiently to meet your deadlines. Put the most important tasks at the top of the list and start there. If you do not complete the list by the end of the day, tackle the uncompleted items first thing the next morning.
3: It's Nothing Personal
Distractions can come in many forms, especially at work. Whether it's a talkative coworker or a cell phone that won't stop alerting you to calls and text messages, you might want to consider a plan to eliminate things that will detract from your productivity. Do what you need to do to make sure you can stay focused on your work. If your job allows you to listen to music, do not hesitate to slip your headphones on and block out all distractions. Perhaps creating a work playlist will help you get focused and allow you to get more work done.
4: Give Me a Break!
Yes, work needs to get done, but small breaks should be a necessary part of your day. Contrary to popular belief, breaks can help increase your work efficiency. Breaks provide you with the mental respite that can help you recharge and regroup. They also give you the time that you need to handle any personal business that you may have. Use this time to check on the spouse and kids or schedule your personal appointments. Handling these tasks during a break can eliminate the distraction to do so while working.
5: It's Not All On You
There are usually opportunities within any company to delegate a few day-to-day tasks. Perhaps you have a new summer intern that can assist you in accomplishing your work. Give him/her somewhat time-consuming, monotonous tasks that keep you from using your talents on more important work. If you delegate work, remember to follow up with your intern or assistant and give him/her a deadline.
6: Break it Up
Big projects seem daunting and can be overwhelming if you are unsure how to tackle them. A lot of people find it easier to procrastinate rather than deal with such a large task. An efficient worker will dive in and tackle the most important work first. If the project truly feels overwhelming, break it up into smaller, more managable tasks should make it easier for you to complete them.
7: Productive Meetings
Work meetings are inevitable and for most people happen on a daily basis. But how many times have you sat through a passive or unproductive meeting? For many people, some meetings feel like an annoyance because meetings take time away from their "real" work. To make your meetings more effective, you should have an agenda to stay on task and only invite people to the meeting that are absolutely essential. If giving a presentation, keep slides or talking points to a minimum.
8: Stop the Office Drama
Work can be a stressful place. Sometimes tempers flare and the pressures of the office get to everyone. If and when this happens in your company, you must address the drama immediately. If you have an issue with one coworker in particular, try to have a one-on-one conversation and deescalate the situation on your own. If necessary, do not be afraid to involve a mediator such as an immediate supervisor or someone from HR. Unnecessary drama can be toxic to a business so it is something that should not be taken lightly.
9: Get Your Rest
Between your job, your kids and your extracurricular activities, of course you are tired. You may be stretched too thin, sometimes missing the opportunity to recharge the way you should. However, being tired at work has an adverse negative affect on your effieciency. Tiredness can slow your progress and dull your performance. On top of this, lack of sleep has been correlated with a variety of health problems. Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep whenever possible so you can wake up feeling rested and recharged.
10: Don't Forget to Exercise
Exercise is one of those things that people put off and make excuses about. In addition to the obvious benefit of getting in shape, having an exercise routine can improve your workplace mood and productivity. This is especially true for sedentary office jobs. If most of your time at work is spent sitting down in front of a computer, make sure that your afternoons or break are spent exercising - not only will it make it easier to sit still at work, but it will make you feel happier, sharper, and more motivated.
11: Think Positive
Yes, your work is serious but it is important to take the edge off sometimes. Try to remain positive while at work – if you feel good, you'll be more likely to stay motivated and ambitious. You can do little things at work to improve your mood that won't also hinder your productivity: listen to music through headphones, take a walk on your break, or find a conference room to work in for a change of pace.
12: Reward Yourself
If you have followed these tips and tricks and improved your efficiency, you deserve a reward. Find ways to track your efficiency over a period of time and if you can hit your goals, reward yourself. Take yourself out for a drink or buy yourself that little something that you have been eyeing for months.
What tips do you use to be more efficient at work? Let us know in comments below.