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Last Updated on August 28, 2018

How to Be More Efficient at Work in 3 Simple Steps

How to Be More Efficient at Work in 3 Simple Steps

Since the Great Recession, many professionals have been facing more challenging schedules and more daunting to-do lists. This makes it all the more important for professionals to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.

So  how to be more efficient at work? Here are the three steps that I consider most critical to be more efficient:

1. Establish your priorities

The first step might be the most important. You should take some time to literally write down a ranking of your major goals and tasks—for the next year and for the next week. As I have written previously, don’t just think about the supply side: what you’re good at and what you like to do. Also consider the demand side: what the world, your organization, or your boss needs most from you.

Here’s a great Lifehack article that can help you set your goals:

How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

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2. Clear away your low priorities

When you write down your goals, you’re likely to find a multitude of small tasks that need to get done, but really aren’t that important.

Tasks like these might include writing a status report, attending a routine meeting, or responding to a slew of emails. If you’re not careful, these low-priority assignments can take up your entire day—leaving you with no time to deal with your higher-priority goals.

The best way to clear your docket of low-priority tasks is to avoid having to do them at all. If you can graciously bow out of attending a boring meeting, do it! If you can decline an assignment by explaining your impending deadlines, great! One less unimportant task for you to do.

Of course, you can’t decline every small task. However, you should recognize that very few of these small tasks need to be perfect.

You don’t have to agonize about the phrasing of every email. You don’t have to spend hours perfecting the formatting of every internal report. For a lot of your low-priority tasks, “B+” is good enough.

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Along the same lines, you should be quick to delegate tasks like these to any employees that you manage—even if there’s a chance that the result won’t be “perfect.”

You still need to put in the hard work of establishing goals and metrics for the project, occasionally checking in, and offering feedback. But you can avoid the time-consuming process of actually doing the entire project yourself—giving you more time to spend on your higher-priority goals.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon Ho has some great advice on how to delegate work:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

3. Start at the end

For your higher priority goals, you obviously need to make a strong effort to create top-notch results. However, in my experience, many professionals could still achieve these results more efficiently.

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As a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, I sometimes assign complex research projects to students or research assistants. Quite often, their first step is to spend days or weeks gathering facts about everything and anything related to the topic. After these days or weeks, they sit down, look at the information that they have gathered, and try to make sense of it all.

Although they’ve certainly learned quite a lot of information, how much of it is relevant to the underlying research question? Not much.

Here’s a better approach:

After a day (at most!) of basic research, try to establish some tentative conclusions for the project. That way, you have to quickly think about the issues most central to the project—allowing you to focus the rest of your research.

Of course, your tentative conclusions may turn out to be wrong. And if you don’t realize the error of your ways until the end of your project, you will have wasted a lot of time.

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So I advocate making a “mid-flight check”: around halfway of your project, take another close look at the evidence that you’ve discovered to see whether your conclusions need to be revised or even scrapped completely.

There you go, 3 simple steps you can start taking now to be more efficient at work and achieve more in less time!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times

8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times

Many of us find ourselves in motivational slumps that we have to work to get out of. Sometimes it’s like a continuous cycle where we are motivated for a period of time, fall out and then have to build things back up again.

A good way to be continuously self-motivated is to implement something like these 8 steps from Ian McKenzie.[1]

Keep a Positive Attitude

There’s is nothing more powerful for self-motivation than the right attitude. You can’t choose or control your circumstance, but you can choose your attitude towards your circumstances.

How I see this working is while you’re developing these mental steps, and utilizing them regularly, self-motivation will come naturally when you need it.

The key, for me, is hitting the final step to Share With Others. It can be somewhat addictive and self-motivating when you help others who are having trouble.

The Motivation Technique: My 8 Steps

I enjoyed Ian’s article but thought it could use some definition when it comes to trying to build a continuous drive of motivation. Here is a new list on how to self motivate:

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1. Start simple

Keep motivators around your work area – things that give you that initial spark to get going.

These motivators will be the Triggers that remind you to get going.

2. Keep good company

Make more regular encounters with positive and motivated people. This could be as simple as IM chats with peers or a quick discussion with a friend who likes sharing ideas.

Positive and motivated people are very different from the negative ones. They will help you grow and see opportunities during tough times.

Here’re more reasons why you should avoid negative people.

3. Keep learning

Read and try to take in everything you can. The more you learn, the more confident you become in starting projects.

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You can train your brain to crave lifelong learning with these tips.

4. See the good in bad

When encountering obstacles or challenging goals, you want to be in the habit of finding what works to get over them.

Here are 10 tips to make positive thinking easy.

5. Stop thinking

Just do. If you find motivation for a particular project lacking, try getting started on something else. Something trivial even, then you’ll develop the momentum to begin the more important stuff.

When you’re thinking and worrying about it too much, you’re just wasting time. These tried worry busting techniques can help you.

6. Know yourself

Keep notes on when your motivation sucks and when you feel like a superstar. There will be a pattern that, once you are aware of, you can work around and develop.

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Read for yourself how the magic of marking down your mood works.

7. Track your progress

Keep a tally or a progress bar for ongoing projects. When you see something growing, you will always want to nurture it.

Take a look at these 4 simple ways to track your progress so you have motivation to achieve your goals.

8. Help others

Share your ideas and help friends get motivated. Seeing others do well will motivate you to do the same. Write about your success and get feedback from readers.

Helping others actually helps yourself, here’s why.

What I would hope happens here is you will gradually develop certain skills that become motivational habits.

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Once you get to the stage where you are regularly helping others keep motivated – be it with a blog or talking with peers – you’ll find the cycle continuing where each facet of staying motivated is refined and developed.

Too Many Steps?

If you could only take one step? Just do it!

Once you get started on something, you’ll almost always just get into it and keep going. There will be times when you have to do things you really don’t want to: that’s where the other steps and tips from other writers come in handy.

However, the most important thing, that I think is worth repeating, is to just get started.

Get that momentum going and then when you need to, take Ian’s Step 7 and Take A Break. No one wants to work all the time!

Featured photo credit: Japheth Mast via unsplash.com

Reference

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