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How To Work Faster And Smarter

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How To Work Faster And Smarter

Do you want to work faster and smarter? It can seem like an impossible task when your to-do list is as long as your arm and the work is still piling up, but the reality is that often the common methods we choose when working are not the most productive ones.

Check out 10 tips to help you to work smarter and faster.

1. Avoid Multitasking

Although a small amount of people are great at multitasking, for most people multitasking just reduces efficiency. Doing two tasks at once means you’re more likely to make little mistakes, as your brain is jumping from task to task. Focus on one task and fully complete it before moving on to the next one to produce better quality work in the same amount of time – or less!

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2. Turn Off Your Non-Essential Technology

Nowadays technology is a huge part of most people’s working day, but it can really slow you down. When are you most productive during your working day? Whether it is first thing in the morning or early in the afternoon, schedule two hours to put your phone on silent and switch off your email notifications.
You can ring and email people back once the time is over, but during that time you will work faster because you chose to only focus on your work.

3. Shut The Door While You Work

Many companies have an open door policy at work to encourage openness. However, if you want to work faster, close your door for at least a few hours during the day. Interruptions and distractions are much more likely to happen if the door is open, so cut out the temptation if you want to have an extra productive day.

4. Create A Personalized Structure

Most people tend to work faster and smarter if they have a structure. Remember that everyone is different; something that works well for your boss may not work as well for you.

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Think about when you are at your most productive, and try to plan your working day around that time. Remember to plan responding to calls and emails, too; most people simply do this throughout the day, slowing down their work and making themselves less efficient.

5. Set A Finish Time

If you know you will be leaving the office at 6, it will help you work more efficiently until then. Knowing you have a deadline will help you to prioritize tasks, as well as making you less likely to procrastinate.

6. Pre-Plan Breaks

Taking short breaks helps you to stay focused so that you work faster and smarter. If you don’t schedule them into your day, you can end up taking breaks that are too long, or not taking any at all, which can result in you becoming stressed or working to a lower standard.
Try to spend your break productively – stretch your legs and make a cup of tea, rather than logging onto Facebook.

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7. Remember Some Tasks Are More Important Than Others

Many people feel like they have put too much effort into a meaningless task at work at least once. Try to remember this when you decide how important each of your jobs are; some are career-changing and some will never be noticed.

If a task only takes 10 minutes, don’t try to make it amazing and spend half an hour on it – it won’t become any more important. Instead, focus on the tasks that you know matter.

8. Set A Bedtime And Keep To It

As well as a work schedule, having a sleep schedule for the days you work will help you to work faster and smarter. You will work more efficiently if you have slept well, so set a bed time that means you get enough sleep, and turn off the internet on your phone so you stick to it.

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9. Keep Your Desk And Laptop Clutter Free

The less clutter you have, the less stress you will feel. This especially applies to work when your stress levels are often higher. Keep a clear desktop and desk to make it easier for you to find anything you need, so you don’t have to waste time and you can keep a clear head.

10. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

Planning ahead and making sure you have everything you need will help to save you time and help you to work faster. Before you start your working day, make sure your phone and laptop are charged, and that you have all of the equipment you need. Having to look for a pencil, or charge your laptop could take quarter of an hour out of your day, and you may struggle to refocus on work afterwards.

More by this author

Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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