Do not multitask
We have all been told countless times to master the art of multitasking, to learn to do 10 things at a time. It is quite common to see a manager at work balancing a handset in the nook of their shoulder, typing a response to an email, waiting to attend to an assistant who brings in a contract to be signed, whilst seated in the middle of a meeting. Sounds absurd doesn’t it? But look around your office space and you will see that most of us do this on a regular basis.
Many people fool themselves into thinking they are good at multitasking but in truth, very few people can focus and be efficient at more than two things at a time. You may think you are getting more done but the quality of work suffers and then calls for rework which even takes more time out of your busy schedule. If it must be done, it must be done well. Really efficient people know that concentrated effort with few distractions leads to better work product in faster times.
Plan Plan Plan
No, the caption is not a typographical error. The repetition is meant to emphasise the need and importance of planning. The time spent sharpening a saw drill is most important to the tree cutting process. Don’t take planning for granted and remember that impatience is the direct enemy of efficiency. Planning provides direction, reduces the risk of uncertainty, fosters innovation and provides structure. Proper planning includes creating a task list, prioritising, assigning timelines for each task and identifying possible problems that might crop up. Don’t forget that there are many tools available now to help you plan your projects better. Really efficient people know they must take the time to research and break down a project into basic steps in order to achieve success consistently.
We are creatures of habit and once we establish a routine, we work quite efficiently at it without much difficulty. Understand what works better for you as an individual. Are you more pensive in the mornings? With bright ideas popping into your stream of thought? This could be a good time to plan a project or brainstorm on innovative ideas. Do you tend to feel that ‘after lunch slump’ where you slow down physically and mentally after a heavy meal of fufu? This could be a good time to do some transactional operations like responding to emails, signing cheques or reading a proposal. Avoid meetings after lunch as most people would surely nod off as a presentation carries on. Really efficient people establish routines that suit their performance levels and schedules to develop productive working habits.
Learn to delegate
This one can be hard to do when you want the task completed with precision. But remember that you cannot do it all (Multitasking inefficiencies..) and do it properly and on time. Make use of your team and ask a reliable and capable person to handle that task for you. You must however remember that the key to successfully delegating a task is to give appropriate information or instruction and then supervise. When you delegate, you supervise. The task still remains under your purview and you will be held responsible for its success or failure. Learn to trust the skills of your team and empower them to engage in various areas outside of their direct scope. Really efficient people let go of their OCD tendencies (J) when they struggle to pass on the baton for another person to run the race.
Take a Break
This cannot be overlooked in your busy schedules. Downtime is essential. Take some time of concentrating on a task and clear your mind, go for a walk, have a coffee break, chat with a colleague, do something to refresh your mind and rearrange your thoughts. Tired and overworked people don’t perform well. People pleasers have the tendency to sacrifice their breaks in an effort to be more productive but they rather detract from productivity. They will most likely find it more difficult to concentrate and generate new ideas. Enjoy the weekends; get some good sleep, participate in social activates, rest your eyes from the glare of computer screens. Really efficient people make sure they get rest and recuperation so they can perform at their peak