In today’s fast-paced workplace, an efficiency mindset can help professionals be prepared, keep up with change, and execute faster and easier for more progress and achievement.
EFFICIENT: performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. (dictionary.com)
What could you do with more efficiency in your workday? What could you achieve each day if getting work done was faster and easier with less wasted time, energy and effort?
If you hear a voice in your head saying, “That could have done that more easily if…” or “I could have done that much faster if…,” these are goldmines of opportunity. With a solutions mindset focused on efficiency, you can often stop the leakage of time, energy and effort from your day if you know what to look for.
For example, if you’ve fallen behind on a project with a deadline, but weeks ago you thought you had plenty of time, you have an opportunity to be a better planner and doer. These feed one another in a continuous cycle and help to drive away procrastination.
Planning usually comes first, but with more action comes better planning as you get into your task or project. By diving in right away, you begin to see how you can more accurately plan next action steps and plan the time you need to take those steps.
Another example is recognizing that you’re spending too much time looking for documents, files, emails, or resources you KNOW you have, but just can’t find. There’s an opportunity to save HUGE amounts of time, energy and effort.
Not finding something once in a while is expected, but when you spend time EVERY day looking for various things, a better system is necessary for the things for which you look the most often. You must be able to find things quickly so you can move on with your task.
Too many professionals ignore this sort of thing when it happens, believing the circumstance is unavoidable or it’s “as good as it gets”—both of which are untrue. In Thinking for a Change, John Maxwell agrees that most people are complacent, saying they’re “…more satisfied with old problems than committed to finding new solutions.” But solutions are a must if anything is to improve.
Instead of thinking “I’ve got all day,” remember that you don’t. At the same time, focus on identifying and taking smaller action steps to see what you can accomplish in shorter amounts of time. This way you can be more prepared and more productive, avoiding last-minute stress and potentially improving the quality of your outcomes.
Smart professionals are taking matters into their own hands.
According to the Pew Research Center in a national survey conducted in 2016, 54% percent of adults in the workforce believe that continuous learning is important—saying it’s essential to get training and development for new skills throughout their careers. This leaves 46% who don’t agree.
This 46% may not see the immediate value of continuous improvement, which is unfortunate, because if you’re not moving forward, you’re likely going backwards or standing still, in which case, others will blow by you in whirlwind of progress.
For those who are content at their current level of success, be aware that you can’t afford to work from day to day with the idea that “good is good enough” when leaders and companies are looking for exceptional professionals. Leaders know they can’t settle for employees who are doing just “OK” in their jobs. They’re looking for high performers so their company can keep a competitive edge.
As Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte states, the “learning curve is the earning curve; your skills are the currency for your success.” Therefore, ignoring the development of your skills or becoming complacent about what you already know or do will not serve you well in the future.
If you don’t want to forever be where you are now and you want to keep learning and growing, you’ll benefit from new, more efficient ways of thinking and executing your plans. Once you learn something new, your mind has stretched and it can never go back, which is a good thing. This propels you forward; good thinking plus efficient action are at the heart of all progress.
Here are three ways to increase efficiency in your workday so you can execute faster and easier and achieve more, which can help you make more exceptional progress in the future.
Think Success, Not Survival
When you spin through your workday like a tornado, you’ve lost control of the big picture as well as the plan for making real progress. Same goes if you’re plodding through your workday as a victim of circumstance or getting bogged down in all of the mundane little things you have to do in support of a loftier goal.
In Thinking for a Change, Maxwell states, “Big picture thinkers don’t let the grind get to them, because they don’t lose sight of the all-important overview. They know that the person who forgets the ultimate is a slave to the immediate.”
If it’s all you can do to “keep up” at work and you feel like you’re a “slave to the immediate,” you’re in a reactive, survival mode of working—just keeping your nose above water. It’s not a strategic way of thinking for success and in many cases, you’re not thinking at all about what you’re doing or what you’re trying to accomplish.
Instead, set an intention to shift from survival mode to success mode, working more proactively than reactively. The best way to get started is to set a few goals so you have a big picture to keep in mind.
Set Goals with Intentional Thinking
The best way to get serious about how you’re working and managing your workday is to get excited about your goals. Nothing works better for productivity than defining specific goals or projects, believing in what you want to achieve, and feeling a sense of urgency to not only get things done, but to change, improve or eliminate the things that will get in the way of finishing projects or achieving goals.
When you’re crystal clear about your goals you can…
…be more definitive about next steps.
…be more decisive about how you’ll spend your time.
…be more confident and proactive.
…minimize interruptions and distractions that prevent you from using time wisely.
…increase your focus and finish tasks you start, giving you more tangible progress.
…achieve better results faster and easier to make the progress you know is possible.
To get going, first, define your vision of what you’d like to achieve in the next 3 months. As you’re planning and visioning, practice a mindset of possibility, opportunity, success and belief. And be specific about your 90-day goals— vague goals produce vague results .
Next, list the projects you wish to complete that will propel you toward your 3-month goals, and identify the first action steps you’ll take to get those projects started. Then start planning and taking action.
“[T]he success of the action you take depends entirely on how you think beforehand,” says Maxwell in his book, reminding us all that thinking and planning are essential for taking the right actions and making meaningful progress.
You’ll find that taking action becomes MUCH easier when you have a thoughtful, strategic plan for accomplishing projects. And it’s not necessary to determine EVERY single step you think you’ll take in a project—only the FIRST or NEXT action step and when you plan to take it.
Change Your Beliefs and Change Your Reality
If expectations about your workday include chaos—and you believe you have no control over that —it’s exactly the kind of workday you’ll get.
You get what you expect and what you expect is based on your beliefs. The power wielded by your beliefs will dictate what enters your reality.
Maxwell’s says “a belief is not just an idea that you possess; it is an idea that possesses you.”
What kinds of beliefs do you want running your day?
Remember that you’re in charge of designing your workday. Outside of unforeseen issues and emergencies, you’re in control of how you manage your work and your available time.
You’ll enjoy more clarity, confidence, and control when you have systems and processes to rely on in your day and a firm grasp of…
…all your tasks and responsibilities.
…which priority comes first.
…what tasks you’ll do and when.
…the time you’ve already committed to.
…the time that’s available to you and how you’ll spend it.
…where necessary information is and how to find it fast.
The “firm grasp” you have on these things will help you work more efficiently. These are workload management skills, and you’ll waste far less time, energy and effort on decision making, finding things, answering questions and getting things done when you build these skills.
“Learning how to master the process of thinking well leads you to productive thinking. If you can develop the discipline of good thinking and turn it into a lifetime habit, then you will be productive all of your life.” —John Maxwell
The ability to keep more time and energy for yourself and use them wisely is incredibly powerful. An efficiency mindset will help you keep more time and energy and allow you to work more proactively and productively, which can make all the difference to your progress, achievement and results.