When time becomes a luxury, accuracy and speed become key indicators of efficiency. How do we ensure that we do not compromise on quality when we are trying our best to work faster? Simon Reynolds from Forbes.com shares some actionable tips that help us prioritize and work more efficiently.
1. Use A Timer On Every Major Task
One of the most pertinent concepts in business is Parkinson’s Law, which states that “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it”. If you leave the amount of time you’ll devote to a task open ended, then you will almost always take more time to complete it. Conversely, if you set a clear amount of time to do each task, you’ll work far more rapidly, as you attempt to beat the clock.
As an added bonus, if you challenge yourself like this you will more often experience Flow, the state identified by the esteemed human performance expert Professor Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi as strongly correlated with feelings of well being. In other words, you’ll not only be much more effective you’ll be happier too.
2. Pretend Your Day Ends At 11am
Each morning when you start work, behave as though you can no longer work past 11am. If you knew you had to go home at that point, yet you still wanted to achieve some really worthwhile jobs, what would you do? Create a small list then start on those important tasks immediately. The 11am technique works brilliantly because it forces you to take action quickly on what really counts.
The average person has done virtually nothing of consequence by 11am: they have chatted with their co-workers, checked their emails, grabbed a coffee and perhaps planned their day. They then complain they don’t have enough time to get their job done! Start fast and you’ll be amazed what you can achieve by 11am.
3. Try To Do Unimportant Tasks Within Ten Minutes
You will never reach a high state of achievement if you give the same time importance to tasks of low value as you give to those of high value. Yet so many people do exactly this. Numerous times a day they give trivial tasks more time than they rightly deserve, then find they are short of time to get the crucial stuff done.
You must get through those unimportant jobs at break neck speed – do them only well enough that people don’t complain. The work day is just too short and your To Do List just too long for you to give trivia more than the bare minimum of time. Several times a day set yourself the goal of getting this unimportant stuff done in ten minutes or less. This technique alone can often give you an extra 90 minutes a day.
How much faster could you work than you are currently doing? I think many people could literally double what they get done each week. These four techniques are a great start to helping you achieve the super high level of effectiveness that we are all capable of.