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10 Small Things You Can Do To Save Time In the Office

10 Small Things You Can Do To Save Time In the Office

Are you looking to save time in the office without having to do a complete overhaul of your schedule or calendar?

Here are 10 things you can do to shave minutes from your regular work routine:

Create a document template.

Check your schedule and emails from the last month for hints on what documents you most frequently use, then create a set of templates for these items. Starter ideas include: email queries and confirmations, proposals, contact forms, contracts, agendas, presentation decks, agendas, and financial reports.

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Set up folders and filters in your email inbox.

Automate the email sorting process by setting up different folders and filters in your email program. You could have your emails filtered by people (clients, supervisors, coworkers, and vendors), work projects (administrative tasks, in-house work, client work, and research), or email subscriptions, and then appropriately sent to the correct folder.

Prepare mini agendas for informal meetings.

Make the most of your informal meetings with supervisors or colleagues with a mini agenda. This doesn’t have to be a formal document, simply list out the different items, tasks, questions, and concerns you want to discuss before your meeting. Not only will you have a handy guide for your meetings, but you’ll also have a record of projects, tasks and items discussed.

Give up folder tabs.

Tired of wasting your time fiddling with all those little plastic tabs that come with hanging folders? Give up those teeny tabs and simply label manila folders themselves. Make it easier for you to identify files at a glance by using different color manila folders and/or hanging files. For example, you might use green folders for financial documents, red folders for current projects and so on.

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Save yourself a few clicks.

Are you making the most out of your work devices? Take a moment to set up the speed dial function on your work or cell phone for frequently dialed numbers and set up bookmarks on your internet browser or use a bookmark service for regularly visited sites. Likewise, if you regularly use a computer application or program, learn some keyboard shortcuts to help you save time as you work.

Make a process or task checklist.

Streamline routine processes or tasks by creating a checklist of must-do items. This can be particularly helpful for items you do every other month or so, such as running reports, backing up files or updating items on a website or server. Create detailed notes and instructions on the different tasks you need to complete for your project.

Keep cleaning supplies within reach.

Stop wasting your time climbing over all those office supplies in the back room just to get a dust cloth. Carve out a space in a nearby desk drawer, cabinet or shelf and stock it with office cleaning supplies. Mix and match any of the following and of course feel free to add in your supplies as needed: dust cloth, duster, lint roller, computer screen wipes and cleaner, disinfectant wipes and/or gel, a roll of paper towels, and window cleaner.

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Pre-schedule online lunch orders.

Do you regularly order lunch at work? Some restaurants and cafes have online ordering systems that allow you to place and schedule meal orders anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks in advance. Check your favorite lunch spots to see if they offer this service and save yourself the hassle of placing daily orders.

Set a timer.

Keep work meetings on track by setting and following a timer. You’ll know exactly how much time you’ve spent working and how much time you have left available to you in each of your meetings. You might also want to consider setting a timer for different tasks while you work to better track your own time.

Store emergency materials in a drawer.

Be prepared for emergencies at a moment’s notice. Clear out space in a nearby desk drawer and pull together a little kit of emergency materials including, but not limited to: a flashlight, glow stick, small first aid kit, backup medication, umbrella, small radio, spare batteries, energy or granola bars, and bottles of water.

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What small action will you try out to save yourself a couple of minutes at work? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

Efficiency in Success and Productivity

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

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Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
[2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
[3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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