The way that the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word in question is:
Definition of efficient
1: productive of desired effects
especially: capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials)
2: being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect
When can we say that something is efficient?
When something is not only producing results, but it does so in a quick or simple way using as little material, time, effort, or energy as possible.
Have you ever asked yourself how efficient you are and what are you doing in order to improve that state?
Let’s do a test. We will list here a few habits effective people tend to have, and try to recognize yourself in most of them. If you can’t, something is to be done. Don’t worry. After the test, you’ll have a couple of tricks for bettering yourself regarding this issue.
So, in the beginning, are you multitasking quite often?
If your answer is YES, you must be feeling pretty good about yourself right now, thinking how efficient you must be.
Multitasking is not all it’s made out to be. Quite the opposite. Multitasking can fool you into focusing only on how much work you’ve done in a short period of time. This is particularly dangerous when the task requires focus and depth. Instead of getting more done when multitasking, in reality, you are accomplishing less and the quality of the work is poor.
Do you delegate or you take on more than you can accomplish?
When you are overloading your schedules and burn the midnight oil, you can’t be farther from being effective. Really efficient people are pretty good at delegating tasks to others who will perform better. Because it’s all about the business and results. Not your image.
How well are you communicating?
We’ll just say that poor communication is a huge time-waster. Wasting time is never in an efficient agenda.
Do you have a well-structured schedule? If you don’t, you really should create standard routines. This way, you can achieve a disciplined approach and be ready for important events.
Have you ever thought about how much time you spend productively versus how much time you waste? Try analyzing that.
Do you have patience and can you control it? Impatience is the worst enemy of efficiency. Keep your head cool at all times.
OK, we are sure you got the picture about your possible level of efficiency by now. Now, let’s see what we can do to improve and boost it. Here are 5 ways you can do that.
Keep your work space orderly.
Get rid of the clutter, being at your desk, file closet or your emails and desktop. Stop putting yourself in a position where you can’t find something either physical or digital – a document, email, pencil or whatever you need at the moment. Save time by having everything in its place. Sounds banal, but it’s not.
Numerous researchers have proven that physical clutter affects productivity in a negative way – it can affect your mood. A cluttered desk or an office can negatively affect your mood and the ability to work productively, not to mention how hodgepodge creates stress. Do you need it?
Usually, those are personal so it won’t be hard to spot them and react. For example, ignore those social network notification. It’s not of the utmost importance to see your sister’s cat jumping off the couch. Search your browser’s extension store for “website blocker” or “productivity aid.” Avoid politely a particularly talkative coworker (consider posting notes at your desk, notifying coworkers not to distract you, socialize during a lunch break). If it won’t distract you from your task, put on earbuds and listen to some relaxing music to help you distance from the office noise. Screen your calls to avoid needless telephone conversations and minimize drop-in meetings.
An Udemy for Business survey indicates that nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70%) admit they feel distracted at work, with 16% of people stating that they’re almost always distracted. Top distractions identified by this survey include talkative co-workers (cited by 80% of workers surveyed), and office noise (70%).
Meetings were blamed for low productivity by 60% of respondents, while 58% said that, although they don’t need social media to do their jobs, they couldn’t make it through the working day without checking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Set deadlines for each of your tasks.
The amount of time spent on a certain task directly depends on how much time one can make available to complete it. Without a deadline, the task can go on forever. Don’t worry about the pressure once you set a due date, it will drive you to finish the task even before your deadline, making you work faster to beat the clock.
You should know that an interesting thing happens when you are timing your task. It will put you in a mental state of flow. And the flow is good. That means that you are immersed in the activity and you can focus on it, unaware of everything else going on.
The flow is triggered once you set a time limit on a task and only then you can use your skills to their highest potential.
Break projects down into smaller tasks.
A new project surely makes you happy and all enthusiastic. But, once you start, you realize there is a ton of work and you simply don’t know where to start. The reward of a big accomplishment is so far away you can’t use it a motivation tool. So, what could be a smart thing to do?
Create a motivation drive by allowing you to feel accomplished multiple times a day. You can do that by breaking down projects into small tasks, and further on breaking those tasks into subtasks. This way you feel get to feel a sense of progress and that will boost your emotions, motivation, and perceptions during every workday.
And, it’s no secret that more frequently workers experienced progress, the more productive they are.
Minor multiple goals will provide you with constant small wins and that will help you work faster and be more efficient.
Silence your inner perfectionist.
Stop manically reviewing your work, double-checking for errors, and doing extra work “just to be on the safe side”. Perfection is the enemy of productivity and it will drain your energy, leaving you with a strong feeling of frustration and helplessness.
It’s not about “all or nothing” here. It’s rather about “all you can do in a healthy and productive manner”. If you consider a failure every work that it’s not perfect, soon enough you will find yourself polishing and refining your work with no end or beginning. You have a bigger fish to fry. Like moving onto a next task or a project even.
It’s quite enough if you deliver solid work and hit all deadlines. That will do. Everything else is just about you and your ego. Drop that.
And just one last thing.
Take breaks. No small break will harm your time frame as it will refresh and reset you. Be kind to your nervous system and don’t wear it down.