Many people struggle with inefficient work habits. As an entrepreneur, however, those inefficiencies can have a direct and substantial impact on the health of your business.
If it frequently takes you longer than it should to complete tasks or projects, you’ll be happy to know that people with a knack for working quickly weren’t necessarily born more proficient: they’ve simply learned to tap into best practices like planning, workspace management, and personal productivity.
Here are a few of the secrets that people who work faster than you have discovered.
Planning speeds up execution
According to sales consultant Brian Tracy, every minute spent planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. Failing to plan your work in advance doesn’t just ramp up costs in terms of time, energy, and money, however, it can erode your credibility, leading to strained business relationships and lost opportunities.
Fast workers stay organized and efficient by:
- Figuring out what time of day they do their best work and scheduling key tasks accordingly
- Using a timer to help them stick to their agenda
- Setting a firm finish time each day to discourage procrastination
Prioritizing your projects and planning your daily work around what you need to accomplish will keep you from spending more time than necessary on busywork that contributes little to your objectives.
Pro Secret: Try breaking lengthy jobs down into smaller daily tasks to chip away at large or overwhelming projects much faster.
Workspace management reduces delays
Once you’ve planned your day, don’t let disruptive phone calls and emails hinder your progress. Workspace distractions are notorious for squelching productivity. And according to one university study, it can take as long as 23 minutes to re-focus and get back to work following an interruption.
In addition to temporarily closing out communication channels while they work on certain tasks, efficiency-minded business professionals will often:
- Set appropriate expectations by using voicemail or an email autoresponder to lay out their message reply schedule (Example: “I check and respond to non-urgent messages at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm daily”)
- Leave their smartphones face down in front of them during meetings as an example to colleagues and staff
- Modify their usual open-door policy by closing their physical or virtual door for a pre-determined period each day
Pro Secret: You’ll experience fewer delays during your uninterrupted moments if you take steps to avoid workspace clutter and keep necessary tools and supplies close at hand.
Productive personal habits increase efficiency
While many entrepreneurs shun breaks in favour of getting more done, working too many hours in a row can take a toll on both your efficiency and the quality of your work. Scheduling brief time-outs over the course of your day won’t just keep you mentally fresh, it will help prevent burnout.
One of the most significant personal behaviours that highly productive business owners learn to deflect is their tendency to multitask. Rather than helping you accomplish more tasks in a shorter period of time, multitasking actually:
- Takes a greater amount of time in total (due to the constant need to re-focus)
- Leads to more mistakes
- Reduces efficiency while compounding stress
Pro Secret: You can switch out inefficient multitasking for resourceful time chunking by focusing on one task at a time, then taking a quick breather before you switch mental gears to concentrate on the next job.
As you learn to plan and stick to a schedule, wall out distractions, and offset tasks with sufficient breaks, remember that keeping your mental energy up by striving for a good night’s sleep, eating smaller, healthy meals throughout the day, and staying well-hydrated are the secrets to working faster and smarter.