How to work faster and be more productive
Do you want to be more productive at work? Do you want to work faster?
Of course you do. You live in a fast world where it can be hard to keep up. You’ve got a lot of competitors out there, both at home and abroad, who want to get ahead of you. That’s why now, more than ever before, it’s so important for you to be able to do your tasks faster.
So, what can you do? Well, if you want to get out in front, you need to work fast, and you need to work smart, so you can be as productive as you can. Here, in the first part of a three part series, are just three ways in which you can work faster, be super-productive, and take the lead on the competition.
Have a plan before you start
Don’t wait till morning! Too many people make the mistake of making a plan to work when they should be working, wasting valuable time when they could be productive. What you should do instead is create a to-do list the day before or, if possible, a week in advance. Decide what tasks you need to do, how much time you’re willing to spend on each of them, and, as explained below, do the most important stuff first.
Do the hardest tasks first
In the words of Mark Twain “If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” I know, it’s tempting to do the easy tasks first and ‘ease’ your way into the hard ones later, but you shouldn’t. Very successful people don’t dither when it comes to the hard stuff, they get straight to it. As Brian Tracy, the author of Eat That Frog, puts it “The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.”
Set a time for each task
Be strict with your time, and work with a sense of urgency. These are two traits that are common to the most successful people. If you think it’s possible to complete a hard task in four hours, try and do it in four hours or less. When you stick to strict deadlines, you’ll find that you work faster as you attempt to get important tasks done on time. Conversely, when who don’t set deadlines, you’ll find your work takes far longer to do than it really should.
Yes, that’s right! If you want to work faster you need to work less. Studies have shown that when you take regular breaks you tend to be more focused. Rather than treat work as marathon, think of it as a series of sprints.
So, rather than slog it out for four or five hours straight, try and be super-productive for 50 minutes or so, take a break and go again. You’ll find that when you do work, you’re ‘really’ working, rather than going through the motions.
Ration e-mail time
Let’s be honest! How many e-mails in your inbox do you need to get to right away? Chances are not many. The truth is that too many of us waste our time on unimportant e-mails when we could be doing something productive.
So, what can you do? It’s easy, only look at your e-mails a few appointed times a day. Or, if you want to be really disciplined, use a tool like Inbox Pause to keep emails from showing up until you’re ready to get to them. And remember, if it’s urgent they’ll call you!
Don’t get distracted
Distractions-they can happen anywhere and anytime. It could be in the office kitchen, at the water cooler, or even your desk. It could be about Janet’s new squeeze, Dave’s new wig or last night’s game. Whatever it is, it can wait.
Idle talk adds up and impedes progress, especially when you’re ‘in the groove’. So next time your office buddy comes to your desk to chew the fat, just look busy or failing that, politely tell them you’ll catch up on your break.
Let’s be frank here! Life can be pretty repetitive, work especially. Chances are you’ve created the same spreadsheets, written the same e-mails, and done the same day-to-day tasks over and over, and over again.
Save yourself a lot of time and effort, and create some templates. Whether it’s customer reply e-mails, blog posts or reports, chances are that large parts can be re-used every time. While it may take you some time to create these templates, there’s few better ways to save time, relieve stress and work faster.
Keep a Checklist
Whenever you’re working on an important task, it’s crucial to know what you’ve done, and what you need to do. Before you start on a task, especially a big one, create a checklist. It’s a sure-fire way to remember what steps you need to take to get the task done.
Also, as we’ve talked about above, it’s likely you’ll do the same task again. So it’s a good idea to keep your checklists so you can use them the next time.
Top tip: You can create checklists in Easynote, so you’ll always be on top of your task, no matter how big or small.
Work shouldn’t be just an end in itself. It should be a means to an end. Make that ends, in the short run at least, a nice reward for yourself. It could be something small like a cool beer at the end of the day (or a cold drink if you’re a non-drinker), or something a little more grand-maybe a weekend away with your better half!
Whatever it is, make sure it motivates you enough to get the task done on time. Hopefully you’ll find that the more you reward yourself with every finished task, the more likely you are to get your work done faster.