10 Ways to Be More Effective at Work
Regardless of your job or industry, there aren’t always enough hours in the day to get everything done. As a result, you constantly feel like you’re always behind. And that’s just not good for your productivity or your health.
So, what’s the answer? Work more hours?
Not necessarily. As Bob Sullivan explained on CNBC.com, “Research that attempts to quantify the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours — so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours, according to a study published last year by John Pencavel of Stanford University.”
Instead of putting in those extra hours, you can become more effective at work by focusing on what really matters. And you can get started with that ASAP by following these ten simple tips.
- Trim the fat.
You’ve just been assigned a major project. Naturally your mind is racing with a million different thoughts on where to start and what you’ll need to get the job done on time. As a result, you start creating a to-do-list that is massively bulky.
The problem with these out-of-control to-do-lists is that they’re overwhelming and prevent you from being productive. That’s because you’re multitasking and directing your energy to unimportant tasks and activities.
Instead, keep your to-to-lists lean and mean by only focusing on your 3 to 5 most urgent, important, and challenging tasks for the day, aka your Most Important Task (MIT). Focus on one task at a time before moving on to less critical tasks. When you do, you’ll feel more productive and less anxious.
Lou Babauta of ZenHabits suggests that at least one of your MITs should be related to your goals and you should work on them in the AM Whether if it’s at home or in the office, tackle your MIT first thing in morning.
According to Lou, “If you put them off to later, you will get busy and run out of time to do them. Get them out of the way, and the rest of the day is gravy!”
- Measure your results, not your time.
When it comes to productivity we often focus on how long something takes to complete; as opposed to what we actually accomplished in a day. For example, you just spent four hours writing a 1,000-word blog post. You may be be a bit bummed since that took a nice chunk out of your day.
But, what if you focused on the smaller parts of the blog post? For example, you broke into five 200-word sections, formatted it properly, added headings, ran a spellcheck and added images. Suddenly you realize you actually completed a lot in that timeframe.
In fact, research from the Behance team found “that placing importance on hours and physical presence over action and results leads to a culture of inefficiency (and anxiety).”
“The pressure of being required to sit at your desk until a certain time creates a factory-like culture that ignores a few basic laws of idea generation and human nature: (1) When the brain is tired, it doesn’t work well, (2) Idea generation happens on its own terms, (3) When you feel forced to execute beyond your capacity, you begin to hate what you are doing.”
One way to assist you with measuring results instead of time is by generating done lists. This is simply an ongoing log of everything you completed in a day. By keeping this list you’ll feel more motivated and focused since you can actually see what you accomplished.
Additionally, according to Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich, done lists allow “you to review your day, gives you a chance to celebrate your accomplishments, and helps you plan more effectively.”
- Have an attitude adjustment.
The team over at Mind Tools state that we’re more effective at work when we have a “positive attitude.”
“People with a good attitude take the initiative whenever they can. They willingly help a colleague in need, they pick up the slack when someone is off sick, and they make sure that their work is done to the highest standards.”
And, you’ll never hear them say that their work is “Good enough.” That’s because they go above and beyond.
Furthermore, a good attitude at work will help you set standards for your work, ensure that you’re taking responsibility for yourself, and make decisions easier since they’re based on your intuition. “This admirable trait is hard to find in many organizations. But demonstrating ethical decision-making and integrity could open many doors for you in the future.”
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Regardless if you’re freelancer, entrepreneur, or employee, there will be times when you will have to work with others. As such, you should strengthen your communication and collaboration skills. When you do, you’ll eliminate unnecessary rework and wasted time from straightening out any misunderstandings and miscommunications.