Time is a precious asset. Everyone wants more time to do the things they want/love. Since it’s not (yet) possible to add minutes or hours to your days, becoming more efficient at work is the best alternative for making the best out of the 86400 seconds of each day.
I personally don’t know anyone that wouldn’t want to be more efficient. If you think about it, the more efficient at work you are, the less time you spend doing things you don’t enjoy (ok, you may love your job but I’m fairly sure it’s not your favorite thing in the world), and the more on the ones that make you happy (in my case, watching Netflix, reading or sleeping).
People are constantly distracted (some more easily than others) by random situations that make them lose focus and stop them from doing whatever it is they were doing.
That’s rather common, especially considering that quite a few studies have proven that we don’t have full control over our brains and that’s why we distract so easily.
There are endless options of productivity apps out there in the market that promise they’ll revolutionize your performance and make you 10x more efficient at work (we’ve even made a list of tools you can use to become more productive) but sometimes all it takes is changing a few habits to drastically improve your focus.
Check out a few tips you can adopt to be as efficient at work as you possibly can.
Tips to become more efficient at work
Multitasking is not good for you!
Do you believe you’re good at multitasking? You think you can do 2, 3 things at the same time? Well, unless you’re part of a very evolved version of the human race, you’re just fooling yourself. According to this article on whether people can actually multitask:
Multitasking is a myth. The human brain cannot perform two tasks that require high-level brain function at once. Low-level functions like breathing and pumping blood aren’t considered in multitasking, only tasks you have to “think” about. What actually happens when you think you are multitasking is that you are rapidly switching between tasks.
Most people fool themselves into believing they’re being more efficient at work when they’re actually accomplishing to do less while also damaging the quality of their results.
Really efficient people know that the secret to producing better work in less time is focused effort with as little distraction as possible. In this failed attempt to do more, you may end up losing more time going back to fix the mistakes you made while you were distracted.
Make clear plans!
One of the most common mistakes people make that can damage their efficiency is not planning ahead. Yeah, I know.
Even though we live in a time with so many alternatives for planning (you can use a notebook or sticky notes if you’re old school or choose among the ocean of possibilities of scheduling and productivity apps) some people still manage to get lost in their schedules. Your calendar is your friend, not your enemy. It exists to
Your calendar is your friend, not your enemy. It exists to help you plan your day according to what you have to do and how much time you have to do it.
By making a little effort to adopt a disciplined approach you’ll go a long way towards controlling your time and being more efficient at work. Take control of your schedule and your time so that whenever the unexpected happens you won’t panic, drop everything else and run for the hills.
The easiest way to begin doing this is to start each morning by evaluating what is it what you wish to accomplish for the day. Write it down on a piece of paper or create cards on your to-do list pipe, whichever way works best for you. Keep it as a reminder of everything you need to do for the day and get the priceless satisfaction of crossing things off your list (or moving cards to “done”).
You don’t need to do it all!
We’ve talked about delegating before. We know how hard it can be to let go of your tasks. But you must, for your own good (seriously). Many people overload their schedules thinking it’s ok to work 14-hour days. Don’t be that person.
Every time you take on more than you can accomplish you’re actually damaging your productivity and losing an opportunity to become more efficient at work.
We understand that it’s not easy to give tasks away and admit that other people will perform them better but here’s where you must be humble.
Instead of thinking about yourself, consider the result your team will get if you break a big task down into smaller pieces: you’ll be able to empower your colleagues and value their contribution while at the same time choosing the tasks you’re most capable of performing without distractions.
Don’t micromanage everything. Stop thinking that “if you want something well done, do it yourself”. You’ll feel much lighter and a lot more capable to concentrate once you realize you don’t have to do it all on your own.
Organize your workplace
I have a very hard time keeping my desk uncluttered. Really, there are so many useless things scattered all around it that, every time I need to find something I lose a few minutes.
Besides that, I have a lot of stuff that distracts me just laying around: my car keys, pens, and many other items I won’t mention so you won’t think (or be certain) I’m mad.
Being organized is a sure way to become more productive at work.
Give each of your items a defined home so that every time you need something specific you’ll be able to find it without losing your mind thinking “where on earth did I leave that?”.
The same goes for your home organization. Make sure everything is where you need it to be and stop losing precious time in the morning looking for your glasses, keys, and wallet before you leave the house.
Whatever you don’t need must go!
This tip is the second part of the tip above. You must be able to detach yourself and make sure your work table is clean, organized, and has nothing more (or less) than you may need to perform your work activities.
I’m not saying you should get rid of everything else or throw away your piles of paper, just make sure they’re organized and stacked away from your view. Think of your table as an analogy to your mind: by decluttering your table you’ll also declutter your mind, making space for more important things.
Go for a walk, take a break!
Research shows that your productivity and efficiency diminish the longer you work without a break. Our bodies, just like machines, need a break from time to time so they can keep on working at the best of their capacity.
Get up from your desk, go grab some coffee go for a walk around the block, whatever works best for you. Your body and mind both have limits and it makes absolutely no sense to keep pushing it after these limits have been reached.
If you find yourself staring blankly into your computer screen without knowing what to do, give yourself a break.
Listen to music
I’ve saved this one for last because it’s the one tip that literally saves my productivity every day. Here at Pipefy, we have one of those wide open-space offices where there’s no such thing as privacy (or silence).
I have a specially hard time concentrating with all the noise and activity going on around me so my one true escape is wearing my headphones and playing some upbeat music or one of my favorite podcasts.
If you think wearing headphones all the time at the office makes you look antisocial, don’t worry about that. Listening to your favorite songs while working can help you get in the zone and finish your tasks a lot faster than you would without them. The headphones are also very useful to show your colleagues that you’re concentrated and would rather not be disturbed.