Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Have you ever had a coworker who seemed to approach every task calmly?
They never appeared rushed. All their duties were completed ahead of deadlines — making them a favorite amongst the team members — and their workstation was consistently organized.
Does your approach differ drastically? You always seem to have a hectic pace. No matter how hard you try, you’re constantly squeaking assignments in barely on time. Your workspace has piles of work you keep meaning to file, but who has time for that?
While there’s no doubt that you’re working hard, there are ways to approach work more efficiently.
Analyze what improvements you might make in managing your workflow, interacting with your team, or choosing an effective time management strategy.
Creating an Efficient Workspace
Your first step in creating more work efficiency should start with your workflows and the routine ways you approach your daily tasks.
Know Your Plan
Instead of sitting at your desk without knowing what to do first, you should make a game plan. Ideally, you’ll do this before you clock out the night before.
Your motivation is often at its highest at the start of your workday, so knowing what you need to do first can help you start the day with momentum.
As you create your task list, you might consider prioritizing them based on urgency.
Or, make a list of the things that need to be done and assign each one a deadline. That way, you’ll keep yourself on task — and on time — during your workday without feeling stressed.
The majority of us struggle with clutter around us. So, take the time to create a workflow that ensures you have a clear space.
That might mean scheduling time to file each evening before you leave for the day, a weekly cleaning session, or simply ensuring that everything has a place and returns there the moment you finish with it.
Take inventory of which office items are adding value. Is there anything on your desk that you can file or move to a shelf? Most importantly, determine what can be thrown away.
Resist the Urge to Multitask
Whether texting while driving or participating in an employee meeting while working on an assignment, we’re all guilty of multitasking at one time or another. However, despite feeling more productive, science has shown that our brains cannot divide our full attention to more than one task.
Multitasking actually makes us less efficient, and neither job is completed to the best of our abilities.
Instead, focus on one project at a time and see that project through to completion. After all, working on various components of different tasks can be overwhelming and lead to a lack of productivity.
So, stick with one item on your to-do list and work on it until you’ve completed the task.
Boost Productivity With Effective Breaks
It’s vital to take scheduled breaks during your day. But instead of hitting up the fridge for last night’s leftovers, it’s a good idea to make your breaks more meaningful.
Working remotely might mean taking a stroll at lunchtime with your new puppy or having breakfast with your kiddos before they get on the school bus. When you work in an office, that might mean stepping outside to read a book and get some fresh air.
By incorporating actual break time into your day, your mind and body will get a chance to recharge.
Consolidate Your Time
Do you have routine tasks that use similar focus and routines?
Try batching and completing them together while your mind is in the same mode. You’ll lose less time jumping back and forth between programs or resources.
Regardless of your industry, there are likely routine tasks that you need to complete every day.
For example, scheduling specific times to respond to emails, following up with all your sales leads during a specified time frame, or batch-editing articles are just a few ways to consolidate your tasks. Completing tasks in batches can lead to a boost in productivity.
Utilizing the Most Efficient Time Management Strategy
Do you have a coworker or friend who swears by the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix, but they didn’t work for you?
It’s not because you’re doomed to struggle with time management. It’s more likely that you just haven’t discovered the best method for your personality type.
Chances are you recognize that you have a unique way of learning and approaching work. You can use that information to find the most effective task management style for you.
Explore the following methods until you discover the one that helps you to thrive.
Time Management Methods
- Pareto Analysis: Focus your efforts on the most impactful 20% of your tasks to achieve 80% of your results.
- The Pomodoro Technique: Use a timer and scheduled blocks to maximize your productivity with routine breaks throughout.
- The Eisenhower Matrix: Organize your tasks based on four varying levels of urgency.
- Eat the Frog: Start your day with your least favorite job to ensure it isn’t looming over you.
- Rapid Planning Method: Tony Robbins’ method of approaching more significant or long-term tasks by creating a map to get there.
- Time Blocking: Create blocks of time throughout the day that you can assign to specific tasks.
Becoming an Efficient Teammate
If you want to be a more effective teammate, you can do a few things to work more efficiently with your colleagues.
Communicate With Clarity
Being an effective teammate means focusing on communicating with clarity. This is true of any team, but even more so if your team works remotely at least some of the time.
To ensure that everyone can use their time most effectively, practice the art of active listening when you’re communicating with teammates.
Ensure that they’re done speaking and repeat what was agreed on to ensure that everyone is on the same page and you’re not making assumptions.
Learn the Art of Setting Boundaries
There’s a misconception that being a great teammate means being the one that goes above and beyond, always taking on extra duties.
But when you consider who your favorite coworkers were, most often, the ones who consistently delivered high-quality work without any drama or anxiety are probably at the top of that list.
While you’d love to be everyone’s go-to coworker who can get everything done in half the time, the reality is that taking on more than you can handle well doesn’t benefit anyone.
If an extra task is up for grabs and your schedule is already packed, gracefully decline. If it’s an essential task that needs completed, verify that your other tasks will need to be pushed back and ensure that is acceptable.
We’ve all had them. The coworker with a seemingly endless need to interact throughout the day about funny cat jokes, their love life, and completing routine tasks.
You should seek out relationships with your teammates, but determine when and how much interaction is necessary before you become a distraction for your teammates.
Consider if there is a need for anyone to get notified that your task is complete. Is there automation in place to ensure that whoever picks up the project after you gets notified? If so, then you probably don’t need to connect with anyone.
Want to share some fun info you have about your day? Consider setting up plans to build your relationships more casually when you aren’t distracting them from their tasks.
Instead, ask them if they want to share a cup of coffee or join you for lunch outside. You’ll build valuable relationships at a preplanned time and ensure you’re not breaking anyone’s concentration.
Creating Your Most Efficient Workday
Work efficiency can be easily improved by taking small steps and being more mindful of how you work throughout the day.
By discovering what works best for you, you can learn to make the most of your time at work and become a more productive employee and team member.