„There can only be economy where there is efficiency.” – Benjamin Disraeli
As Neil Gaiman once said, there are three qualities the ideal collaborator has: he does great work, he does it fast and he’s always a pleasure to talk to. Still, none of us are perfect. That’s why in order to be a good collaborator, you need to only have two of these.
If you do great work and you deliver on time, it won’t matter that you’re kind of crabby sometimes. If you do good work and it’s always a pleasure to talk to you, people will be willing to overlook the fact that you have the tendency to go over deadline. And finally, if you do your work on time and are always pleasant to talk to, it won’t matter that the work isn’t necessarily the best possible.
Still, two of these three variants involve being able to work quickly. You need to be efficient to survive in today’s world, especially with the economy still on the rebound. Efficiency is they key to surviving, both as a freelancer and as an employee.
Efficiency means more than just speed, though. The dictionary definition of the term is ‘accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort.’ Basically, efficiency means being able to dose your effort in the best way possible in order to get the best result possible in the shortest amount of time.
Some people are naturally efficient. They take action quickly and solve any problems that come up well and as they come along. In universities, it’s the few students that get twelve hours of sleep during finals week because they’ve already done all the work and want to be well rested. It’s those people who can’t relax or stand still knowing that there’s something to be done and just get up and do it.
The rest of us, though, have problems getting to do this. Let’s face it, most people are naturally passive. If you didn’t recognize yourself in the last paragraph, then it’s probable that you’re one of this majority. How, then, can you take action? How can you become more active and efficient?
What follows is a list of 6 things you can do in order to improve your efficiency and get out of whatever rut you may find yourself.
1. Believe action is possible
Lots of people fail at this. They find themselves faced with tasks that seem daunting. Problems that make everything they could do to get them done seem like grasping at straws. The difficulty of a task doesn’t serve to motivate them to get them to try harder.
Instead it leads to this sort of defeatist mindset where they don’t even try to solve the problem or get the task done because they’ve already decided that they can’t do anything to change the current situation.
What you need to realize is that this attitude is a product of fear. Once you’re aware of this diagnosis, it’s easier to fight this attitude. You can believe in yourself and your abilities more by taking the time to think the issue through.
Talk to people whose opinion you respect and go over what you plan to do to get the job done with them. Break down the task into smaller, more manageable tasks and plot a course through them. Visualize each step you need to take. Then start focusing on the next step.
2. Let go of constraining beliefs
A key element in efficiency is being able to think of new ways to solve a problem that are better, that are faster, that produce better results. This is called creativity and you need to boost your own.
The problem is that, throughout your life, you’ve gathered certain beliefs that limit your creativity. It can be as simple as “it’s weird to talk to strangers” or as set in stone as “this is the way this type of problem is solved.”
You need to let go of this mindset. Identify these beliefs and put them to the test. Go ahead and try new things. Doing so, you’ll grow as a person and you’ll develop your creativity, your ability to think outside the box. And the further outside the box you think, the more efficient you can be.
3. Use your own need to belong to motivate yourself
People are social creatures. You are a social creature. You have an innate need to belong. This need to belong is a double-edged sword. If you want to belong to a group, you can either take action to do so or you can sit and mope and feel bad about yourself because you feel you’re on the outside.
Using point one of this list, you can overcome the downside to your own need to belong and you can make it work for you by being careful of how you phrase your thoughts. Instead of thinking “I want to make design resources”, think to yourself “I want to be a designer.”
That simple change of phrase will make you feel more motivated, because it’s channeling your wish to be part of a group of people that design as well as your wish to design yourself as opposed to just the latter.
4. Stop wasting time!
When most of your spare time is occupied with things like watching TV or surfing the internet for nothing in particular or any other kind of static activity like that, that’s called wasting your time. It’ll drain away your motivation to get stuff done.
It’s a well known fact that the more things you do, the more things you feel like doing. If you spend your whole day at home in your pajamas watching cartoons, even going to the store to buy food seems like a daunting task.
When you’re all over town working, solving various tasks all day, you start to feel the need to cram more tasks in between the ones you already have in order to minimize down time. It’s very similar to what frequent joggers call “runners’ high” – which is the state they achieve after running for a while in which they feel that they could just go on running forever.
5. Reward yourself
The previous point doesn’t mean you need to cut out all activities that can be perceived as wastes of time from your life completely. It just means that they shouldn’t take up too much of your time. Instead of letting them pull down your motivation and efficiency, turn them into something to boost them. Turn them into rewards.
When you’ve finished a big project at work, give yourself a day off to lounge around the house, sleep ’till noon and watch your favorite shows or play a cool video game. This will give you something to look forward to while working.
6. Phrasing is key
On point 3, we briefly touched the subject of how the way you phrase a thought, idea or goal makes a difference as far as your motivation and your efficiency are concerned. That being said, you should know that it’s much better to phrase your goals as questions instead of simple statements.
Don’t just think to yourself “I’ll work 10 hours tomorrow to finish the project before the deadline.” Instead, ask yourself “Will I work 10 hours tomorrow in order to meet my deadline?” You’ll be surprised what a big difference this small change in phrasing makes.
That concludes our list of tips and tricks on how to get more stuff done in less time and how to be more efficient. Do you have any efficiency tips? Don’t hesitate to let us know what they are in the comments section below!