Learning to use efficient work habits can save you a lot of time and energy. Taking the time to learn new healthy habits can help you minimize procrastination, become more productive in accomplishing your tasks, improve your communication skills, and overall maximize efficiency in your role. You may as well make the most of your time at work in a way that minimizes stress and boosts your work output.
Productivity isn’t necessarily about checking more things off of your to-do list. In fact, being more productive often means doing fewer things more effectively. This article will cover what efficient work habits are, outline the benefits of having efficient work habits, and provide you with 11 best practices that you can begin applying in your everyday life.
- What are efficient work habits?
- The benefits of efficient work habits
- 11 ways to create efficient work habits
What are efficient work habits?
Efficient work habits improve the quality of the work that you’re doing as well as the way you’re completing it. Essentially, efficient work habits make you more productive but simultaneously raise your standards relating to how you deem a task or responsibility to be best completed. Good work habits are mutually beneficial: When you see that your work is being valued more, you become more motivated to continue doing well, therefore increasing job satisfaction. At the same time, because of these efficient work habits, the business is accomplishing its goals in a more effective manner.
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The benefits of efficient work habits
As mentioned, efficient work habits improve employee satisfaction and help the business meet its objectives with greater ease. Efficient work habits make individuals’ jobs more enjoyable, less challenging, and more interesting. What’s more, engaging in efficient work habits will decrease stress at work and allow employees to not only enjoy their jobs more, but also to focus better. When you’re less stressed, you’ll perform better, find more time to spend on learning and development, be more productive, and have better time management. Efficient work habits give employees a better sense of confidence and allow organizations to surmount their business goals with a high degree of effectiveness.
11 ways to create efficient work habits
- Use the time-blocking method
- Set SMART goals
- Limit the number and duration of your meetings
- Follow the 80/20 time management method
- Create and follow a system
- Set and track objectives
- Learn how to say “no”
- Avoid multitasking
- Maintain an organized workspace
- Implement regular breaks into your schedule
- Focus on challenging tasks before lunch
1Use the time-blocking method
One efficient work habit is to use the time-blocking method. Time blocking is a time management method that is meant for individuals to organize their work days into specific blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to completing a specific task, with the intention for the individual to stay focused on that task exclusively. Rather than having an open-ended to-do list, time blocking allows you to focus on a concrete schedule so there’s no question as to what you should prioritize each day, and when. To create your time blocks, prepare your task list in advance and make sure you do your own weekly review before the week ahead. This way, you know what’s coming up, what needs adjusting, and what needs to get done.
2Set SMART goals
Setting SMART goals is another way to work efficiently. SMART goals are objectives that you can easily define and act upon. They help you figure out the resources you need to achieve a goal.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific: Your goal should clearly state the desired outcome and any attendant expectations.
Measurable: You should be able to numerically define your goal and track all progress toward it. If your goal is qualitative, you should develop a way to track it numerically.
Achievable: For your goal to be achievable, you need to be reasonably confident your team can pull it off, given your current available resources.
Relevant: Your goals should pertain to your company’s values and yield a meaningful impact for your business.
Time-bound: Your goals need a target date by which you expect to complete them.
3Limit the number and duration of your meetings
Another way to be more efficient is to limit the number of meetings you’re having as well as the duration of these meetings. By taking the time to organize and facilitate more productive meetings than you’re currently having, your meetings will naturally decrease in frequency and in duration. You can use a meeting management tool like Fellow to conduct more organized, thought-through, and productive meetings. Fellow is amazing because it integrates seamlessly with several other tools and technologies through its many extensions, including its useful Chrome extension. Moreover, with Fellow you can use the meeting cost calculator to find out how much it is actually costing you to bring your team together and make cuts where meetings may not be needed.
4Follow the 80/20 time management method
Also known as Pareto’s principle, the 80/20 time management method is a great means of creating an efficient work habit. This time management technique suggests that 80% of results come from 20% of the efforts that are made. If you and your team need to work on your time management skills, this is a great method to put in place, since the majority of employees tend to work on several different tasks simultaneously, rather than focusing on one important task at a time. If employees are focused and organized, 80% of work-related output can actually come from only 20% of their time at work.
5Create and follow a system
You can create and follow a system to work more effectively as well. Creating and following a system will allow you and your team to be more productive and therefore to achieve your goals more effectively. An example of a workflow you could incorporate into your routine to make work simpler could be would be synchronizing your google CRM with an available integration.
In episode 58 of Fellow’s Supermanagers podcast, Smruti Patel, Head of Engineering, Leap and Data Platform at Stripe shares an example of this:
“[…] for any system, you want to identify that set of elements, how they interconnect, and then the function or purpose that that system is aiming to serve… So I think about debugging productivity. To me, it isn’t about measuring how many commits or how many lines of code an engineer has written, it comes a lot into, you know, what is the environment or the system that they are working on?”
6Set and track objectives
Setting and tracking your objectives will allow you to be more efficient. Done consistently, this goal-setting will become another habit that will boost your productivity. Stay on top of your team’s goals by clearly recording, defining, and tracking the progress of your objectives and key results (OKRs) in Fellow’s Objectives tool. Fellow makes it easy to create new objectives, specify key results, track progress, and update contributors. Each team member can create their own private or public OKRs or create team-wide objectives. All they’ll need to do is visit the My Objectives section. Making company goals transparent can help improve overall workplace happiness, engagement, and alignment. These goals help employees see the bigger picture and understand how they can contribute. An example of an OKR to add to Fellow’s objectives tool could be to revamp the company’s brand, which would include objectives such as draft brand guidelines, create a logo or even plan a marketing campaign for the next quarter.
7Learn how to say “no”
Learning how to say “no” nicely will show your coworkers and boss that you aren’t turning down work because you don’t want to help them, but rather because you are overwhelmed and cannot take on more responsibility at the moment. Remember, you are no help if you’re burnt out and it’s essential to show yourself self-respect. As much as we want to help out, we need to consider the impact of our answer on both us and the person asking. Whether it’s a small or a big ask, never be afraid to say “no.” Knowing your limits and understanding how to communicate them will make you more productive and more effective at work.
Avoid multitasking as much as possible. It’s much more effective to focus on completing one task at a time, by order of importance, rather than trying to make progress on several things at once. In an article pertaining to productive habits by Forbes, Ilya Pozin shares:
“Stop trying to do 10 things at once! Changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Get things done more effectively and efficiently by focusing on one task at a time. Less is more when it comes to being productive during the workday. Stick to the basics for reaching productivity.”
9Maintain an organized workspace
This efficient work habit seems like a simple one, because it is. Maintaining an organized workspace will most importantly help you focus. When your environment is clean and free of distractions, you’re able to pay better attention while feeling less stressed and less tempted to feed into other activities outside of your to-do list. If you enjoy your workspace and find it pleasant, you’ll notice that you work more productively.
10Implement regular breaks into your schedule
Implementing regular breaks into your schedule will also help you work more efficiently. Overworking will often mean that more mistakes happen, meaning the quality of your work is affected negatively. In the same great article by Forbes, Ilya Pozin shares another habit of productive people:
“Since your brain has used up its glucose, give yourself a moment to refresh by going for a walk, grabbing lunch or a snack, or just meditating. You’ll come back recharged and ready to achieve greater efficiency.”
11Focus on challenging tasks before lunch
Lastly, focus on your challenging tasks earlier in the day—preferably before lunch. Most people tend to have more energy and better focus in the morning, which means that if you use this to your advantage in the morning, you can leave your less demanding and perhaps more administrative tasks for the afternoon. What’s more is that you’ll feel a great sense of motivation and encouragement after having completed your most challenging tasks in the morning, giving you the push you need to work effectively through the rest of the afternoon.
Maximize your productivity by putting these 11 efficient work habits into practice. Think about implementing the time-blocking method, setting SMART goals, and limiting the number of meetings you and your team are having (as well as the duration of these meetings). Consider following the 80/20 time management method, creating and following a functional system, setting and tracking your objectives, and learning how to say “no” when you’re at capacity. Avoid multitasking where possible, maintain a clean and organized workspace, implement regular breaks into your daily schedule, and focus on your most challenging tasks before lunch. With these efficient work habits, you’ll feel more motivated, more satisfied, and certainly more productive at work.