Efficiency gains – tried and true tips

efficiencyWhen it comes to working efficiently, everyone has some idea of what works for them and what could work better.  As a business owner, you can get stuck and find yourself working harder than anyone else, for longer hours, without seeing that next level of growth in your business.  Here are some simple reminders to help you stay on task and get more done.

Make a list
Seems like a cliché, right?  But writing down your goals for that day actually does set you up to achieve them.  And there’s that little reward at the end of the day – better than a sugar fix – when you tick off what you’ve completed.

Avoid Multitasking
Many people think they can multi task.  They’re wrong.  To achieve efficiency it is always best to tackle one task at a time giving it your complete attention.  Trying to multi task only leads to distraction, rather than faster production times.  By spending time on one task alone, better quality is assured and fewer mistakes are made.

Interrupt the interruptions
OK, sometimes you do have to drop everything to attend to an emergency.  Mostly interruptions just cost you time and energy, whittling away your focus till it’s hard to feel you’re achieving anything.  Work out a system with your team to flag anything urgent clearly and to telescope everything else into one or two windows in the day.  Does first and last appointment of the day work for you?  Just before or just after lunch?  Pick times that suit the flow of your day so you can focus fully during your most productive periods while still giving your team the direction they need.

And here’s radical: turn your phone off and shut your email.  It might feel like you’ve gone off life support but set yourself two or three periods in the day where you return calls and emails.  You can judge whether you missed anything important and measure how much more you achieved.

Delegate
Trying to be a champion in the workplace only leads to lost productivity.  Don’t try and achieve everything yourself, you’ll only end up risking burnout.  When you have a lot on your plate, stop for a moment and break each task down.  Think about who might better carry out each bit.  This empowers others to contribute and allows you to complete the tasks best suited to you, in record time.

Communicate
Before sending an email around to staff, put some time and effort into the message itself.  Poor communication will only waste time, especially if you have to explain yourself further or find your email has had a negative impact due to some perceived overtone you didn’t intend.  Craft your communication purposefully to make it clear what you want the outcome to be and what you want from your team.  State the priority and clarify deadlines.  You may need to set a date to follow up, to ensure that the message has been put into action.

Ask whether email is the most efficient medium for the situation.  If your team is all onsite, you might find it works better to call them all together for a quick catch up, to outline the assignment and timeframe and give them the opportunity to ask questions and clarify any information.  Just be sure to keep the meeting to the specific agenda.

Published Winter 2014.

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