Don’t we all want to achieve this in some way? Whether we’re talking about work, writing, showering, how long it takes us to get our kids out the door for school, dinner prep – heck, even how to get more out of our meditation in less time! (Now there’s an oxymoron for you.)
I believe this thirst for greater efficiency may be a “Western Society” kind of thing, though. Do people overseas in European communities really spend much of their time thinking about ways to be more efficient and more productive? Umm…these are the (brilliant!) people who created siestas in the middle of the day, so, something tells me no.
But over here? If you’re a productive member of society, it’s a commonplace thought.
Cut yourself some slack
Before I get into any ideas about how to actually be more efficient throughout your day, there’s something you need to do for yourself first: give yourself a break! Life shouldn’t feel like some mad race every day (hmmm…I really need to take my own advice!).
Slow down. Smell the flowers. Laugh. Talk. Take ingredients out of the fridge slowly. Cook with a glass of wine. Take a few minutes to yourself in the morning before you start answering emails. Enjoy the process, not just the end result.
Efficiency (and productivity) tips
My guidelines come from my own experiences (and listening to other super smart and successful people), but they’re also just as much for productivity as they are for efficiency. Because let’s see the correlation right now: if you’re productive, you’re efficient, and if you’re efficient, you’re productive.
A little side note: I think of these tips as relatable to work although they can be applied to just about anything! These are designed to help keep you laser focused, so whatever it is you’re doing happens faster, and more importantly, better and at a higher level of quality.
As you’re performing your task…
- DO NOT try to multitask.
- There’s no such thing. Seriously. All those people who say, “oh, I’m such a great multitasker”, they’re lying. But I do need to clarify something important: multitasking is NOT putting dishes in the dishwasher while you wait for your pasta water to boil. Anyone can do that. Those are two separate tasks. When I say “multitasking” I’m talking about literally trying to do two things at the exact same time. For example, type an email to a client while talking to another client on the phone. Uh uh. Not going to happen – not well, anyways. You’ll miss something your client says, or you’ll mistype something in the message.
- If something else pops in your head that you “must” remember or do, don’t do it, instead write it down on a notepad.
- Don’t laugh. I said “notepad” on purpose. It’s okay to use a notepad! Set aside the device and go the old fashioned route, and then when you complete that side task later on, you get the tremendous pleasure of crossing the item off your list! This tip I find to be super useful, particularly if I’m in my writing zone but to-do list things keep popping into my head. If I don’t do them right away, they’re forgotten, but not if I write them down…so this is the empowering part. I get to stay focused on my work at that moment, but also don’t worry about forgetting the importance of my thought later on.
- Close your email, turn off your notifications.
- This might seem obvious to some, but maybe not to all of us. What’s funny is that even though I use this tip for my own work time, it has a way of overpowering me sometimes. Just the other day, I began a writing session telling myself, “Okay, get started, email will be fine open – just ignore it if anything comes in.” Famous last words. Guess what? Something “super urgent” did come in and I felt the need to answer right away. It would still have been urgent an hour later. And now, not only did I interrupt my work flow but I also felt disappointed and annoyed with myself for breaking my rule! Not exactly an ideal mentality to carry on throughout the day.
- I urge you even to do this when you’re with other people as much as possible – your husband, wife, kids, parents, extended family, friends… Have you ever stopped to notice how distracting and rude it is to constantly be looking at or answering “dings” on your phone while you’re spending time with someone in the flesh? Pay attention next time. Instead of letting your devices always win the battle for your attention, turn them off at various intervals throughout the day. Then allow yourself 15 or 20 minute blocks to get back to the clients, emails and messages you missed. See how you feel.
- Talk to yourself.
- Maybe it’s just me but I find this extremely helpful. My dad (also a huge ‘talk to himself’ kinda guy) always said to me, “Talking to yourself is totally sane. It’s when you answer that you’ve got a problem.” As I’m cooking, packing things to leave the house, writing, editing – you name it, I’m often talking to myself quietly aloud. It keeps me energetic, motivated, organized and expedient.
What do you do to be efficient (and productive)?