Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Working Smarter, Not Harder (By Increasing Your Efficiency)

We have all experienced busy periods at work where even after we have organized our tasks, prioritized them, and delegated where appropriate, our final task list is still daunting. As Elizabeth Grace Saunders describes in her Harvard Business Review article “5 Strategies for Getting More Work Done in Less Time,” when we get to this point, we need to shift our focus to increasing our efficiency. It’s time to work smarter, not harder! (Well, sort of.) 

At first, doing so can seem impossible—“how am I supposed to do the same amount, type and quality of work in a shorter amount of time!?” However, as Saunders’ article demonstrates, working efficiently is less about condensing a process that takes you 60 minutes to 30 minutes, and is more about saving time by changing how you approach a given project. Saunders’ offers five practical strategies for getting more work done in less time:

  1. “Clarify Expectations” to confirm what is actually needed, such as a detailed analysis set forth in a memo versus a high-level summary set forth in an email;
  2. “Re-Use Previous Material” if appropriate (for example, if you are giving a presentation, copy, paste, and edit excerpts from similar presentations you gave at an earlier time);
  3. “Develop Templates and Checklists” to save time by documenting routine actions or items that must take place, rather than trying to remember each individual action or item;
  4. “Make It a Conversation” and provide a verbal analysis or update rather than preparing a formal presentation; and 
  5. “Time Box Your Work” to determine in advance how much time you want to spend on a particular task (and then stick to it!).

While the above strategies are not appropriate in every situation, they offer a good starting point for increasing efficiency and getting more work done in less time.

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