Our working lives tend to be extremely hectic with little time to plan. We spend our weeks reacting to requests for information, prioritizing important emails, and trying to balance our core tasks—whilst preparing for an never-ending series of meetings. It is fair to say that these day we work harder and faster than ever before. However, it is worth noting that working quickly or firefighting tasks does not necessarily mean that we are working at our most efficient levels.
There are some key strategies that can be adopted by both employees and employers that can help to drive improved levels of efficiency. This article describes three key strategies that we can adopt to improve our efficiency at work—whilst still delivering high-quality output.
Take regular breaks
It may sound counterproductive to assert that taking regular breaks can be a key way to improve efficiency at work, but it is a recognized fact. Research suggests that you should take regular short breaks (at least every 90 minutes) when working. The simple fact is that we only have finite levels of focus and concentration and if we work without a break for prolonged periods of time, we tend to steadily reduce our productivity and speed of work. This can be especially true when working remotely from home.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers have needed to work from home as a necessity to react to lockdowns and restriction on movement. Today, hybrid models of working or fully remote work is a reality for many of us, and whilst this has been a benefit for many workers in terms of gaining greater control over our work–life balance, working from home can foster a situation where we do not naturally take regular breaks.
With an absence of colleagues, it can be easy to remain glued to the desk for hours on end. Break this habit and ensure that a five- or ten-minute break is taken every 90 minutes to ensure that concentration and productivity remain high.
Listen to your employees
Whilst employees themselves can adopt strategies to improve their efficiency, there are also methods that can be used by managers and leaders to improve productivity in the workforce. One key way to do this is to listen to the thoughts, feedback, and ideas of employees on a regular basis. Within this information often lies avenues for improvement and improved ways of working that can drive efficiency gains.
Today, many leaders and managers use employee survey platforms such as those provided by inpulse.com to gain actionable insights from the workforce that can indicate more efficient ways of completing tasks. This information can be an integral part of creating lean and efficient working practices, and therefore avoiding the constant cycle of firefighting tasks.
We live in a world of smart devices and incredibly complex information technology, which can allow us to become more productive. However, devices such as our smartphones can also become a distraction during the working day—to the detriment of our work rates.
It is sound practice to get into the habit of switching off, or at least silencing our smartphones during the day. Updates from friends and a stream of promotional emails tend to become time-killers during working hours. In addition, it can be beneficial to use noise-canceling earphones if you enjoy listening to music during work. This will allow you to focus more effectively on your tasks, whilst limiting outside distractions.
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