How to Improve Workplace Efficiency: Proven Strategies That Work
Have you ever checked the time at the end of the day and felt like you barely got anything done? Are you working extra hours after work, including weekends? If you can answer one (or worse; both) of those questions with a yes, chances are you are not being your most efficient self in the workplace.
But what defines efficiency, and how can you improve it? Let's help you get to the bottom of this.
What does efficiency in the workplace mean?
Efficiency in the workplace is the ability to get the most output from the least possible input—which is a synonym for productivity. In other words, getting things done with just the right amount of effort.
When applying it to the workplace, this means completing everything you have planned within the workday. But that is easier said than done, especially when there are so many distractions surrounding us.
So what can you do to improve what are some ways to improve efficiency?
8 Practical tips to improve efficiency
Yes, scrolling through social media is tempting, and if you are a procrastinator, you will find many creative ways to not be as efficient in the workplace. That doesn't mean you are not being productive, though, just not as efficient.
But here is a quick list to help you become more efficient:
#1 Plan and set realistic goals
It’s no secret that everything starts with proper planning. If you have your daily activities planned out, you are more likely to follow through with less distraction. However, planning by itself does not directly translate to efficiency.
Setting realistic goals is key when it comes to planning. Knowing what you are able to deliver within the workday will not only help you make plans accordingly but also carry them out successfully. It helps you focus on the goal itself plus the desired outcome. Now that is what we call efficient planning!
#2 Manage your time effectively
Another key secret is proper time management, which ties in closely with planning.
It might come as a surprise for many but humans are actually not capable of multitasking. What we do instead is switch tasks. Jumping from task to task is overwhelming and actually hurts productivity as it can take more time and increases the chances for errors. That’s why having a clear strategy will increase your efficiency at the workplace.
The first thing you should work on in order to become more efficient is to improve your time management skills. Time blocking, time batching, time boxing, or day-theming can help you become more efficient at the workplace because these techniques help you stay organized while reducing the chances of feeling overwhelmed.
#3 Remember what focus looks like
We are so used to being in a fast-paced environment that we don’t remember what a quiet and focused day looks like. One device, in particular, distracts us the most from getting our work done. You guessed correctly; the mobile phone.
Incoming notifications include the weekend group chat, your partner, your best friend, a new friend request on Facebook, a like on Instagram, an email at least once an hour, and so on. Every time the screen lights up, you shift your focus from your work to your phone and end up spending much more time than you intended on scrolling through notifications.
To increase your chances of improving your efficiency in the workplace, put your phone on silent mode and place it on your desk with the screen facing downwards. Even better – leave it somewhere out of reach. This way, you won’t be tempted to pick it up for a “quick stroll”.
The same goes for email notifications on your laptop – switch them off! If you are not going to answer the email straight away, don’t open it.
#4 Saying “No” should become your new motto
“Do you have 5 minutes to go through this blog?”
“Can you quickly check this email for me?”
“I can’t find the lunch Excel sheet. Can you send it to me?”
Always saying yes to questions like those above might make your colleagues efficient, but not you. Instead, you interrupt whatever you are doing to do something completely different.
There is nothing wrong with helping out your colleagues. However, do it after finishing the task you are working on and prioritize. Company communication tools such as Rodeo’s Messenger, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and so on have the option to mute notifications, and we agree that this is a great way to focus on the task at hand.
It’s not a coincidence that all successful people say that learning how to say ‘No’ has really increased their efficiency and productivity in the workplace. There comes a point where prioritizing your work means saying ‘No’ to other projects or small tasks that other people ask of you.
#5 Take breaks
Yes, you read that right! Studies have shown that you are most likely to be productive for a maximum of 40 minutes straight. After that, you need to take a break of approximately 20 minutes. Your employer might not agree with this, but we are just sharing advice about what brings your efficiency game to the next level.
Even if you don’t take a 20-minute break, regular breaks are key to keeping your focus while staying efficient. Just walking to the coffee corner or taking a bathroom break is enough to give your brain the desired rest before it jumps into another 40-minute or so concentration marathon.
#6 Having a routine is a good thing
Some people say they are tired of their daily routine because it gets boring quickly. There might be some truth to this. However, sticking to a routine can help you stay organized and maintain a clear mind. You can also have an office routine without it disturbing your extracurricular activities.
For example, when you come to the office in the morning, get a cup of tea, and eat a green apple which you bring to work every day. After chatting with your teammates for 10 minutes, sit down, and check and answer your emails for 15 minutes. Then, it’s time to dive into your first task for the day.
#7 A quiet place brings peace
Just like multitasking and distractions, having a busy and loud environment will disturb your efficiency in the workplace. Nowadays, it’s quite common to have open office spaces to make everybody feel more connected to their colleagues, which also increases flexibility. But this comes at a cost.
We understand it might be difficult to change desks every day. However, you can be mindful of your surroundings. For example, if you’re sitting next to the Sales team speaking to clients all day long while you need to write a blog, booking a meeting room, or working from the cafe downstairs might be a better option. The end goal is to get your work done adequately with the least amount of effort, so look for practical solutions.
#8 Consider tools that make your life easier
Investing in project management tools can save you and your company countless hours down the road. From time tracking software to planning tools, embracing project management software such as Rodeo will improve efficiency, reduce frustration, and help you achieve your goals.
By utilizing one or more of our efficiency tips, you can be sure you will boost your efficiency in the workplace and put that extra hour to good, productive use.
Find out exactly how Rodeo can optimize your workflows by scheduling a free demo with one of our experts or start it for free.