Many confuse efficiency with effectiveness because both are goal-oriented. However, their similarity stops there. While efficiency refers to how well something is done, effectiveness refers to how useful it is.
One way to illustrate their difference is when a company trains its workers on a new technology. They may have passed the training but their overall performance does not improve. This shows that the company adapted an efficient strategy but not an effective one.
If you are keen on the process of doing things to save time, cost, and effort, opt for efficiency because effectiveness is more focused on completing the task regardless of the time, effort, and cost spent in doing so.
Going back to the purpose of this article, here are some tips on how to boost your efficiency to improve your productivity:
- Be in control of your activities. You may not be aware that your biggest problem in controlling your activities is your e-mails. When you start your day checking your e-mails, you let your senders dictate on what you will be doing for the day. You receive their requests, their instructions, what they want you to know, and what you are supposed to do to the information they feed you. Take back the control and start your day with the tasks you have planned to do, not the ones others think you should do.
One effective way to solve this problem is to switch off your e-mail notifications until such time when you have completed first what you plan doing. Let your e-mails accumulate and then attend to them in one sitting. This way you are able to choose only those important ones and disregard the nuisance or time-wasters. This is not possible if you check your e-mails as they come in. Also, it is best you unsubscribe to irrelevant newsletters. They only clog your e-mails.
- Learn to delegate tasks. Review your “to-do” list for the day. Tick off those tasks which can be delegated to your staff or virtual assistants. Streamlining your activities is great way to be efficient. However, if you are at the receiving end of delegated tasks, you can make your superior aware of your priorities and seek for his help to help you perform your tasks for him more effectively. Make him part of the picture to get his cooperation.
- Be selective in the meetings you attend. Ask to be provided with the copy of the agenda beforehand. If you feel your presence is not vital, excuse yourself or ask somebody to-sit in for you. If you are the one calling for a meeting, see if calling for a meeting is really necessary. Otherwise, you can use inter-office memos to disseminate instructions and just have individual discussions to personnel concerned if necessary. Talking collectively in a meeting may just be a time waster to those not directly concerned but have to be there. Besides, meetings are conducive to protracted and often unnecessary discussions.
- Use “no” more often. This negative word is an effective tool to gain efficiency. Helping others is a noble thing to do as long as your own priorities or welfare are not compromised. If your “help” is not sincere or is given grudgingly, it’s better just to forego it. Chances are, you just come up with less than satisfactory result both for you and for the one you are helping. Learn to be more assertive and do not take on too much work more than you can conveniently handle.
- Listen to your body. Each one has his/her own built-in circadian body clock. This dictates the time a person is most energized. Everyone has different time setting for this circadian clock. Schedule your tasks according to your unique individual circadian setting. Do your more demanding task when your energy level is at its peak and attend to lesser ones as your energy wanes.
- Make sure you are adequately hydrated. Your body is 77% water. People feel thirsty when they have already lost around 2-3% of their body’s water. Mental performance and physical coordination start to become impaired when you reach around 1% dehydration. Your energy begins to wane and when your brain is dehydrated, you lose focus. Make sure you drink adequate amount of water throughout the day in order to get the most from both your body and mind.
- Nourish and keep your body moving. Aside from hydrating your body, nourish it also with the right food. Proteins and carbohydrates are best energy providers while brain foods like the omega oil from fish will help you concentrate better. A little caffeine may kick-start the energy your body has stored and help keep you moving as when you exercise. Exercise gives you the energy you need to work efficiently, reduces stress, and increases your focus.
- Take advantage of technology. With the proliferation of software and other applications online, using them can help you accomplish your tasks more effectively and with greater efficiency at much lesser cost. For example, you may try Sanebox in managing e-mails; use Activewords, a text-replacement software, to reduce time in typing repetitive sentences; Evernotes to help you store and retrieve data fast; CloudOn willallow you to use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint to create documents on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device; and for greater convenience, you can sync with Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive accounts.
These easy and practical tips can surely improve your productivity by boosting up your efficiency. Goodluck!