How To Increase Your Efficiency At Work (14 Simple Ways)

How To Increase Your Efficiency At Work (14 Simple Ways)

The year has been one for the books. It’s completely changed our way of life, from how we have to do social distancing and mask-wearing to how we work. Twelve months ago, the brick-and-mortar model was going strong. Then, the coronavirus hit, and businesses were forced to shift to the work-from-home model. As we look ahead to the new year, it doesn’t look as if we’re going back to the old ways any time soon, so efficiency at work has taken on a whole new meaning.

It seems like just yesterday that millions of people would wake up every morning, jump in their car, and head off to the office to put in eight hours to pay the bills. Those eight hours would consist of a variety of meetings with potential clients, talking to colleagues, writing and responding to emails, negotiating deals, and organizing events.

What was once commonplace has been replaced with sitting in front of a screen at the dining room table or in our make-shift office at home.

In the bestselling book, The One-Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard M.D. explains that we shouldn’t manage every employee the same way because different people are at different stages in their development. The more experienced employees thrive with less supervision while newer employees need constant hand-holding and encouragement as they are unfamiliar with their new surroundings.

Under the work-from-home model, the more experienced employees have thrived as they were able to use their commute time more effectively. Instead of having to attend a bunch of unnecessary meetings, people are now asked to only attend those that are necessary.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the less experienced workers and companies have struggled to address how best to train them so they can acquire all the necessary skills needed for their work.

Having been an entrepreneur for over 20 years and having run three businesses and worked in partnerships, I’ve learned that there’s only so much an employer can teach their employees. The rest is up to us and as we live in such precarious times, we should all go to work on ourselves and figure out how we can increase our efficiency at work, even if that means being at home.


While certain skills might be career-specific, the following 14 ways can increase our efficiency at work regardless of what industry you are in.

1. Set Achievable Goals

Setting goals is a good thing. It is an effective way to improve our efficiency at work as goals shape our actions and decisions. But not all goals are created equal.

Working with entrepreneurs, I have found that many like to set goals that are merely dreams in disguise. Napoleon Hill best explained the difference between the two when he said, “Goals are dreams with a deadline.”

The key to setting goals is to remember the acronym S.T.A.G., which stands for short-term achievable goals—the keyword being achievable. Unattainable goals, on the other hand, lead to disappointment. A goal also needs to be clear so that everyone involved understands precisely how to go about achieving it.

2. Less Is More

So many of us are obsessed with getting everything done, it’s almost as if we feel compelled to make sure everything is off our plate. Recently, I watched an episode of MasterChef: The Professionals. In it, one chef with 20 years of experience created some incredible plates of food. Just one problem—there was too much stuff on the plate. As a result, the whole dish didn’t come together and it cost him a place in the semi-finals.

The lesson is this—sometimes, we have to know when to stop. By doing less, we’re able to focus more on those things that need our attention and consequently, the quality of those things radically improves.

3. Have a Break, Have a Walk

Our lives have become more and more sedentary, and that’s not a good thing. Many people sit in front of computer screens, glued to their chairs for hours at a time. It’s not healthy.


So, have a break and short walks from time to time. It’s amazing how much a short walk every 90 minutes or so can improve our efficiency at work. It refreshes our eyes, our mind, and our body all at once.

4. Email Is Our Enemy

Brendon Buchard shared something in a podcast I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Our inbox is nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” That was a game-changer for me. He went on to explain that if we did nothing else other than not check our email for the first two hours after we wake up, we would improve our productivity by 30%. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

5. Create Your Space

Only have what you need on your desk. Remove all things that are not important. Things tend to pile up over time, which can distract us or create a feeling of being overwhelmed. Keep your desk space clean, and you’ll notice an improvement in your productivity quite quickly.

6. Food Is Fuel

Food is fuel, and you want to run your body on high-quality fuel. I used to get a cold at least once a year and each time, it knocked me out for two to three days. I lived on a steady diet of meat and carbs back in the day. Thankfully, my wife fixed me right up.

It did take time for my body to adjust, but at age 46, I feel healthier than ever. I haven’t caught a cold since I was in my mid-thirties. That’s about a month saved in downtime not to mention my increased performance levels and not having to pump myself full of NyQuil or Tylenol.

Not a chef? No worries, YouTube has you covered. Don’t want to cook? Look for young chefs that are attending culinary schools that need practice.

7. Personal Development

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better” are wise words that Jim Rohn used to mention in all his lectures and a quote. It’s something that everyone should take into consideration when thinking of ways to increase efficiency at work. The more experience and knowledge we acquire, the easier tasks become, which is why we should always work on improving our own ability.


8. Meditation

While most people think the key to building a successful business is all about clever marketing and cool products, what is often overlooked is the impact stress can have on us. I know more than a few millionaires who have more than enough money for the rest of their lives, but it came at a price—their health.

Stress played a big part in that, which is why it’s more important than ever to reset our minds once a day, shut off the noise, and recalibrate our thoughts.

9. Busywork Sucks

Most people aren’t lazy. The problem is they don’t want to do what they should. Instead, they fill much of their day doing activities that give them a sense of accomplishment while never making any real progress on the things they should.

10. Time Tracking

One of the big mistakes people make is they think they are good at managing their time, yet have never taken the time to really analyze just how they are using their time.

With clients, one of the first things I have them do is do a time audit. I want to know just how much time they spend and where. It’s often eye-opening for clients when they do this. No matter how good we think we are at using our time, we can always be better.

11. The Commute

As we have shifted to the work-from-home model, this is less and less of an issue. However, we still spend a lot of time in our cars (or trains depending on where you live) whether we are on a trip, heading to work, meeting a client, or simply heading to the supermarket.

Sometimes, it’s just 10 minutes, but other times it’s an hour. It all adds up. We spend an inordinate amount of time in vehicles which we aren’t using effectively. Commute time is learning time. Forget Taylor Swift and put on Tony Robbins. Turn off Metallica and instead try learning a language or listen to a podcast.


12. 90-Minute Cram Sessions

Darren hardy is one of the premier productivity experts in the world. He has interviewed hundreds of the most successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and entertainers as the publisher of Success magazine. One secret I learned from him is what I like to call the “sweet spot” of productivity—90 minutes. We need to learn to focus our energy on 90-minute “jam sessions”—as he likes to refer to them—as they give us the greatest return on our energy.

13. Efficiency’s Magic Number Is One

A single-minded focus on a task will transform your productivity like no other. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize just how unaccustomed we are to this and think that multi-tasking is the key to getting things done. Wrong! It’s precisely the opposite. Multitasking prevents us from reaching concentrated focus and our efficiency at work suffers from it.

14. Notifications Are a Dime a Dozen

Please, if you aren’t a surgeon who needs to be on call because it’s a life and death situation, turn off your notifications. We get distracted, on average, every 4 minutes. Those distractions are absolutely productivity killers as they take us away from our train of thought.

The Bottom Line

Increasing your efficiency at work isn’t rock science. In fact, it’s downright simple. It’s the simplicity that trips people up. Too often people look for new shiny toys when the answers are right in front of them. These concepts transformed my life and those of many entrepreneurs the world over and you’d be foolish not to at least give them a fair shake.

Remember, like all concepts, applying them once and expecting big results just won’t happen. But over time, simple concepts done repeatedly can achieve incredible results.

More Tips to Boost Efficiency at Work

Featured photo credit: XPS via

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Adrian Shepherd

Adrian is a productivity consultant and the CEO of iSucceed

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

Suppose you finally took the plunge: resigned your corporate job, decided to follow the passion of your life and (by lack of a new office space, of course), you started to work from home. Welcome to the club! Been there for a few years now and, guess what, it turned out that working from home is not as simple as I thought it would be.

It certainly has a tons of advantages, but those advantages won’t come in a sugary, care free, or all pinky and happy-go-lucky package. On the contrary. When you work from home, maintaining a constant productivity flow may be a real challenge. And there are many reasons for that.

For instance, you may still unconsciously assimilate your home with your relaxation space, hence a little nap on the couch, in the middle of the day, with still a ton of unfinished tasks, may seem like a viable option. Well, not! Or, because you’re working from home now, you think you can endlessly postpone some of your projects for ever, since nobody is on your back anymore. You’re your own boss and decided to be a gentle one. Fatal mistake. Or…


OK, let’s stop with the reasons right here and move on to the practical part. So, what can you do to squeeze each and every inch of usefulness and productivity from your new working space and schedule (namely, your home)? What follows is a short list of what I found to be fundamentally necessary when you walk on this path.

1. Set Up A Specific Workplace

And stay there. That specific workspace may be a specific room (your home office), or a part of a room. Whatever it is, it must be clearly designed as a work area, with as little interference from your home space as possible. The coexistence of your home and work space is just a happy accident. But just because of that, those two spaces don’t necessarily have to blend together.

If you move your work space constantly around various parts of your house, instead of a single “anchor space”, something awkward will happen. Your home won’t feel like home anymore. That’s one of the most popular reasons for quitting working form home: “My home didn’t feel like home anymore”. Of course it didn’t if you mixed all its parts with your work space.


2. Split Work Into Edible Chunks

Don’t aim too high. Don’t expect to do big chunks of work in a single step. That was one of the most surprising situations I encountered when I first started to work from home. Instead of a steady, constant flow of sustained activity, all I could do were short, compact sessions on various projects. It took a while to understand why.

When you work in a populated workspace, you behave differently. There is a subtle field of energy created by humans when they’re in their own proximity, and that field alone can be enough of an incentive to do much more than you normally do. Well, when you’re at home, alone, this ain’t gonna happen. That’s why you should use whatever productivity technique you’re comfortable with to split your work in small, edible chunks: GTD, pomodoro.

3. Work Outside Home

In coffee shops or other places, like shared offices. It may sound a little bit counterintuitive, to work outside your home when you’re working from home. But only in the beginning. You’ll soon realize that working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay there all the time. It basically means your home is also your office and you’re free to go outside if you want to.


I know this may not apply to all of the “work from home” situations, but for those related to information processing, when all you need is a laptop an internet connection, that usually works beautifully. It adds a very necessary element of diversity and freshness. It can also be the source of some very interesting social interactions, especially when you have to solve all sort of digital nomad situations.

4. Go Out!

Working from home may be socially alienating. After almost 3 years of doing it, I finally accepted this as a fact. So, apart from balancing your home time with consistent sessions of working outside of your home, you should definitely go out more often. Our normal work routine, the one that is performed in an office, that is, makes for an important slice of our social interaction needs. Once you’re working from home, that slice won’t be there anymore. But your need for social contacts will remain constant.

So, my solution to this was to grow my social interaction significantly over what I was having when I was working in my own office. Going out to movies, running in the park, meeting for drinks or just chat, whatever it takes to get me out of my home/working space. On a one to ten scale, my social life before was around 3 and now is at a steady 7.


5. Thoroughly Log Each And Every Day

It goes hand in hand with keeping a personal journal, but this time it’s about work, not personal feelings and experiences. Keep a detailed log of each project and be always ready to pick up from where you left one day or one week ago in just a matter of minutes. It’s not only a productivity enhancer, although it will help you be more productive, but it’s more on the accountability area.

When you work from home you’re your own boss. And, for any of you who are (or have been) bosses, this is not an easy position. You gotta keep track of all the information about your team and of every advancement in your projects. That’s what a boss is supposed to do, after all. When you work from home you have to perform this bossy role too, otherwise you will be lost in your own unfinished ideas and endless project stubs faster than you think.

Featured photo credit: Ian Harber via


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