First off, let’s get one thing clear: you don’t have to sacrifice quality for speed and greater output. There are ways to get around this apparent trade-off (such as managing your energy properly). On the whole, if you’re able to strike the balance, you’ll find that you make good decisions faster, churn out more products, make more sales, rake in greater revenues, and ultimately grow your business.
In principle, we are able to work faster at tasks we repeatedly do. For example, we type faster as we continually use the keyboards, and sew clothes at greater speeds as we get accustomed to using the sewing machine. Thus, with time, we’ll get better at producing more if we keep at it.
But you don’t have all the time in the world to learn to raise your game. What practical steps can you take, here and now, to do more in shorter time spans? Here are a few tips you can use:
- Set specific daily goals
Plan your day, and do so with experience as a guide. One of the pitfalls of the to-do list is that we might overestimate our ability to accomplish things and try to force too much into a few hours. Or we might structure things so rigidly and unrealistically that we are unable to meet up with them at the end of the day.
Instead of scribbling random things, take a little time (it’ll be time well spent) to decide the things you should get done, and when you should do them. Factor in the likely disruptions and honestly consider your ability to perform the tasks you want to handle.
- Know what your priorities are
Decide what things should get your attention the most, and put them at the top of your priority list. Work harder at them; if they’re more urgent, handle them first. You might have to approach such tasks a bit more carefully than you would if you were dealing with something less important- unless you’re expert enough to simply waltz through it.
You shouldn’t give less important work more time than it deserves. In such cases, achieving minimum standards might be all that’s required.
- Time yourself with a stopwatch
This idea is so simple and effective, it’s a wonder that many people don’t use it. The basic reasoning behind it is that you tend to be more responsible with resources when you realize how little of them you have. Working without physical reminders of our time constraints deceives us into thinking that we always have time to play with. But when we divide our work into smaller bits and pace our delivery on them with a clock, we’ll develop a sense of urgency that pushes us to complete tasks quicker.
- Give yourself breaks
How about fifteen minutes of undistracted high-intensity work followed by three minutes of rest from it all? If you’re not familiar with this work routine, you might dismiss it as a poor excuse for laziness. However, it’s been shown to produce better results than the extended grind sessions that many associate with being ‘hardworking.’ It’s not difficult to see why this is the case.
If you spend long hours at work without breaks, you’ll get drained and progressively slower as time passes. On the whole, you might end up doing less than a person who works in shorter but more consistently focused and intense bursts followed by even shorter breaks. The breaks help workers recover from the intensity of the work periods and get into the right frame of mind to continue with work.
- Eliminate distractions
This one is really a no-brainer. But are you sure you’re not stifling your work with things that slow you down? You’d be amazed at how much potentially productive time gets flushed down the drain by the occasional web surfing and social media chats you insert into your work time. If you’re serious about squeezing the most out of the scarce time you have on your hands, you should cut out these distractions. They can always be attended to after your job is done. But your work isn’t waiting for you; it’s screaming out for your attention. Get to it.
- Do the most dreadful tasks first
Sometimes, there’s a big bad monster of a thing you’re afraid to tackle. It’s sitting on your desk, lying in the corner, or even lodged somewhere on your computer screen. It sends shivers down your spine and makes you wince and shudder. So you just want to leave it for now, and deal with it when your mind and muscles are fit enough.
Deal with it first. Procrastination isn’t going to help your cause. Courage will. Stare the monster down, and prove to yourself that it’s not worth your fearful pangs.
Clearing the most challenging things off your to-do list first will do your confidence a lot of good. You’ll very likely proceed to sink your teeth into the other items for the day with enthusiasm and vigor because you finally realize that they’re all doable.
It’s time to zoom through work!
You’ve got the keys now. Get down to business, and make things happen quickly.