In today’s fast-paced business culture, losing focus is almost becoming an epidemic. With constant email updates and smartphones going off left and right, it feels like our attention spans are dwindling. But creating more workplace focus is key to maximizing efficiency – whether for yourself or your team.
Better efficiency is not just developed overnight, however. It’s a product of good habits sustained over time. Here are nine ways to work more efficiently.
1. Keep an Orderly Workspace
A cluttered or overly full work area can massively denigrate efficient work. This is because it’s nigh on impossible to focus on a task when you’ve surrounded yourself by distractions. Try only to keep things on hand that you regularly use, and store anything else out of sight. Have a system, so things are easy to find – searching for a specific item will waste a lot of time, and this time adds up.
It’s also a good idea to maintain a well-stocked workplace. Keep a surplus of your most used items, depending on what tools you regularly use to do your job. For example, if you staple a lot of things, make sure you have spare staples. It may seem facetious, but running out of something essential can cause a surprisingly big hold up – especially when you consider that these types of issues are so avoidable.
2. And an Orderly Virtual Space
In a similar vein, getting your non-physical work in order is entirely essential to efficiency. Your inbox, for example, should be in a state of the relative organization. Trying to reach “inbox zero” at least once a day is a good trick to keep on top of it. You can even organize read mail into categories, meaning certain messages can be found easily when needed. A messy computer desktop can also pose a huge problem. Try to reduce to around 20 icons – any more, and things can quickly descend into chaos.
3. Lists and Schedules
Keeping a to-do list and calendar in one place makes organizing your work so much easier. Setting time for each task allows you to fully focus on it, without your mind wandering or flitting between different things you “should” be doing. It’s far better to work on one thing at a time, for a set amount of time, rather than trying to do everything at once.
4. Minimize Distractions
We’re all guilty of getting a notification on our phones and taking it as an excuse to have a break from work. Moving your phone out of sight and checking it only at set intervals will help break this bad habit. Many of us can also easily waste time on recreational sites. If you can’t seem to resist them, you can download web extensions which block them for set intervals of time. Try to find out what most likely to distract you. It is a personal thing – we’re all different. For example, some people find working in silence more distracting than a bit of background noise. Once you know what your Achilles heel is, you can take steps to overcome it.
5. Take Effective Breaks
When you’re super busy, it can be tempting to set yourself unrealistic goals. Working through lunch, staying late, or not stopping until the task is complete may sound great in theory – but in practice, they can adversely affect efficiency. Breaks are an essential part of work. However, it’s vital that they are not opportunities you let go to waste. Firstly, they must be at set times, and taking unscheduled breaks should be eliminated. And secondly, you must use your breaks in a way which supports efficiency. For example, if you can’t stop thinking about a particular article to read or friend you want to message, get that done during your break. You can then return to work feeling unburdened and refreshed.
6. Manage and Delegate
One of the hardest things about starting a new project is merely getting going. Looking at the bigger picture an make the entire task seem insurmountable. This can lead to false starts, delays, and time wasting.
A meaningful way to avoid this is by breaking down a job into smaller steps. Taking one more manageable piece at a time will mean a speedier finish. It’s also crucial to recognize the importance of delegation.
If there’s an aspect of a project that will take you ages, and you know you have a co-worker who could manage it in minutes, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Playing to everyone’s strengths is an essential facet of workplace efficiency.
7. Avoid Unnecessary Meetings
If you’re short on time, meetings can be a sponge that sucks up workplace efficiency. While they have a time or a place, meetings are often a highly inefficient way or getting things done. Before you call one, ask yourself honestly if the matter could find resolution another way. Rather than having many shorter meetings, try to have sessions where you tackle a few line items at once. Meetings should have a schedule with specific points to hit, and, vitally, this schedule must be consistent. Excellent communication throughout an office can minimize the need for an abundance of time-consuming meetings.
8. Make Your Lifestyle Support Efficiency
If you want to work your best, it’s important to feel your best. Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising are all critical facets of a valid work strategy. If you’ve tried, sluggish or mentally drained, you won’t be able to work to the best of your ability, no matter how hard you try. Living a healthier lifestyle not only has a myriad of physical and mental benefits – it will help with your work efficiency, too.
9. Boost Enjoyment
Find ways to make work more enjoyable that don’t hinder productivity. For example, listen to some music – instrumental tunes are particularly suitable for those who may be distracted by lyrics. Get comfortable in your workplace, with a supportive chair or some pillows. If you’re happy while you’re working, you’ll be less inclined to rely on breaks, and thus your efficiency can be boosted.