How is your workday efficiency? Do you progress through the day’s tasks like a well-oiled machine? OR do you scurry from one thing to another and get to the end of a long busy day with nothing completed? If you feel more busy than productive, these tips are for you. As with everything change, and forming new habits takes time, be patient with yourself, but work hard at this. Developing habits of efficiency is key to being your most productive in your business or career
Start the day off right
The first step to an efficient and productive workday is the getting off to a good start. If you are a morning person this might mean a lengthier morning routine of reading, more extensive planning, and exercise. You win today by preparing for it the night before.
Focus on what matters most
The To-Do list you make for the day should be prioritized. You can either rank each item individually OR simply put a star next to the most urgent and important tasks that absolutely can’t be put off. Then, make sure, however much you don’t like them, that these top priority tasks are done first thing. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you might have to stop scheduling meetings in the morning to make sure these tasks get done. Putting them off to the end of the day will result in rushed, sloppy work that is far from your best. Rip the band-aid, get them done, and you’ll have the satisfaction of marking them off the list before lunchtime.
Reaching Your Workday Efficiency: Delegate
Delegating is often overlooked when things are at their busiest and most frantic. But learning how and when to delegate is a vital part of getting the most out of your day. If you have employees, find out from them what they are capable of handling. You may be surprised by how much they know that you didn’t realize. Just don’t give them more than they can handle. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing it twice which will cost you extra time and money. If you don’t have employees, the delegation will look more like outsourcing. Write down a list of the daily or weekly activities that aren’t in your skillset (ie. bookkeeping, SEM/SEO, web design, etc.) and start shopping around for vendors or other small business owners who can handle those tasks better (and sometimes cheaper) than you can.
Physical health and well being
In trying to improve your workday efficiency, attention to your physical health is often the most neglected aspect. The fact is when you don’t feel well, you don’t get as much done. Does this mean you have to adopt a new lifestyle spending 2 hours a day in the gym and eating salads at every meal? No, but it does mean that there is probably room for improvement in the way you care for your body. Start by making small changes such as getting more sleep, or eating a nutritious breakfast (no, egg McMuffins are not nutritious, sorry). Then slowly start to work in some exercise that is manageable and healthy for you. Don’t focus on what others are doing or make comparisons, focus on what your body needs and strategize how to get there.
Cut down time between meetings
Some of the biggest time wasters in the day are those 20-30 minute periods of downtime between meetings. It’s not quite enough time to much done, but its too much time to sit around doing nothing. Find ways to tighten down your schedule to reduce those in between periods. If your job involves travel time between meetings work to arrange your schedule geographically so that you waste less time on the road between each appointment.
The single largest time eating monster in your day is distractions. These come from all around. Whether its email, walk-in customers, phone calls, or your kids playing in the living room (for the home office worker) distraction have become part of everyday work life. But they don’t always have to be. The first distraction to cut from your work day is email. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to answer every email in 30 seconds or less (unless that’s your primary responsibility). Set aside a particular time (or times) of the work day where you will focus on answering emails and addressing emerging issues or questions, the rest of the day, turn off the push notifications on your phone, computer and anywhere else you get emails, and ignore the distraction. A similar method can be applied to many of the other common workplace distractions. Give the necessary items their time in your day, but be diligent about keeping them to their set times. This will take diligence on your part, especially until your co-workers and clients begin to understand the boundaries you have set. The extra work will be worth it in the end!
Remember that these tips are broad and generalized. Optimizing your workday efficiency will require a specialized approached tailored just for you. Like with many things, it’s important to use this as a starting point and develop specific strategies that will work best for you. It’s worth a little extra time and thought to really get the most out of your day.