Woman WritingWhich one describes you best:

At the end of the day, you can’t remember anything productive you actually got done.  At the end of the week, you’re still wondering. 

OR, You whiz through your to-do list in half the allotted time, so you have to make a new list after lunch. 

You’re probably neither extreme, but the point is that efficiency is not always evenly distributed among employees. Some folks get more done. 

Why? In a nutshell:

  1. Efficient folks are more organized
  2. More focused
  3. Have fewer distractions
  4. Set clear goals
  5. And as my dad used to say, efficient, successful people are able to light a fire under their own posterior.  (His language was a bit more colorful).

So how do you actually do all of that? Here are some friendly tips! 


1. Be More Organized

Whole books are written on the subject of being organized but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. 

People who are organized don’t waste time confused about what they’re doing. They don’t lose valuable time searching for stuff.

Disorganization and chaos in the office waste an incredible amount of money. 

Time = money! (Bet you’ve heard that one before.) 

A study conducted by Express Employment Professionals estimated that disorganized employees waste about one-fifth of their time!  That’s an entire day per week. 

Here is how not to be that employee, who is on the list to be axed by the way.

  • Make to-do lists daily and weekly.  Put lists in a prominent place and consult them regularly.  
  • Keep your work area tidy.  Piles, clips, and folders can help.  Rubber bands too! 
  • Label everything! 
  • Have a place for everything and have everything in its place, especially for important things like keys.


2. Be More Focused

Let’s see, what’ll you work on now that you’re done with the crossword puzzle?  

This is why to-do lists are so helpful.  If you’re mindful when you make out your list, put it in order and go down 1, 2, 3. 

Don’t even try to multitask.  Science has proven multitasking to be detrimental to productivity, not enhancing.  So, don’t let an old-fashioned guilt trip make you think you need to do 5 things at once! 

Keeping your mind from wandering is not always easy.  You might have to remind yourself over and over to get your mind back on your task.

On the other hand, some jobs require rote tasks, which can be mindless. In this case, you might actually benefit from a wandering mind to keep you from getting bored. There at the warehouse, you’re schlepping boxes, but in your mind, you’re exploring outer space! 

Now, this might sound counterintuitive but staying focused is easier if you schedule a break every hour or so and can look forward to it coming. Be your own timeclock!  When you’re off you’re off, but when you’re on, then you're on.   


3. Fewer Distractions

This can be really difficult depending on your work environment. Sometimes distractions are part of your job. Is the phone ringing every 2 seconds while you’re trying to get a report written?  

If answering the phone is part of your job description, then you don’t need to label it as a distraction but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.  

Most of us come up with our own distractions.  Our cell phones. Facebook. The conversation in the next cubicle. Thoughts of dinner. Worries about car repairs or a sick kid. Money woes.  OMG, what is she wearing now!?

Habits that lead to fewer self-distractions are key. Block out everything and be mindful of the task at hand. I wear earplugs to slip into my cocoon of productivity. I love the sense of stillness and quiet they provide.

Mindfulness of our environment and dealing with distractions is a learned process.  Meditation and conscious efforts at focusing, even using brain games and puzzles are all ways to increase your skills with staying focused. 

Meditation masters will focus on a spot on the wall for hours without flinching. Don’t ask me why they wish to focus on a spot on the wall.  That seems to me to be the opposite of productivity, but who am I to judge? I do admire their ability to be still and quiet.  Maybe they want to paint the wall and are contemplating colors.  


4. Set Clear Goals

Guess what’s a great habit to develop for clarifying goals? 

Make a list!  Are you tired of me telling you to make lists?  I do apologize but it’s really not my fault that lists are one of the greatest working tools of all time! 

Clarifying your goals means giving it some real thought. These things aren’t always intuitive. You have to prioritize.  You have to weigh the pros and cons. You have to consider other options.   Sometimes, you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines, so you need to go ahead and hope it all works out.

Develop a clear set of goals in your mind. Figure out the steppingstones for getting there.  Think short term and long term. Decide the long-term goals first, then the short term goals will be the stepping stones needed to walk the path and arrive at your goal. 

A good system for keeping track of daily weekly, monthly and yearly goals will ensure important tasks don’t fall through the cracks.  If you don’t get it done Tuesday, put it on Wednesday’s list.  Carry it over until the next week until it’s done. 

You can use a basic calendar for your goal list. I hope you don’t have anything on your list from years ago but if you do, keep trying! I admire your sense of hope.    


5. Light A Fire Under Your Derrière

Internal motivation can be hard if you don’t already possess it.  I’m actually grateful my dad taught me early, although don’t tell my 8-year old self that, she’d think you were nuts!  

Bringing home a paycheck is, of course, the number one fuel for all of our fires, but there are strong motivational factors with work over and above a paycheck. 

The more motivational factors you can identify and consciously consider throughout your day, the more fuel you’ll be piling on to your fire. 

Self-motivation needs to come from your gut. The desire to DO has to be part of your soul, so give it some real thought! 

So, what do you want to spend your precious time doing?  If you really want it, you’ll get it done. 

A job can bring prestige, a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and the social connections of being on a team. 

Be consciously grateful for these things. Add them to your list of things you value. Every one of them is fuel for your fire. Some serve as kindling, some as the big logs that never go out.  

To review, the 5 essential habits to be more efficient...

  1. Efficient folks are more organized,
  2. More focused,
  3. Have fewer distractions,
  4. Set clear goals,
  5. Fuel their own fire until it roars.

Consider Learning SAP

Boosting your skillset with a better understanding of the software you use on a daily basis is another way to increase your efficiency at work.  

Does your job involve SAP software?  If so, building your skills with online SAP training can bring your speed and efficiency at work way up.  You’ll get more done in less time! 

Fuel your fire with SAP instructional online courses, designed for effective learning and created by certified SAP experts

Author Photo

Lorraine Grula is a curious and compassionate Okie native who grew up on politics and science. She loves to read, write and study the world and shares her insights in our blog.
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