Efficiency is highly touted as what separates hard workers from their lazier counterparts. Efficiency can be a hard task to master when you’re used to a college schedule or retail job. In those situations, it’s easy to take the path of least resistance. For many years, this approach probably worked. The difference now is you are in a career that you most likely want to advance in. It’s time to act accordingly.
Many college graduates have a difficult time transitioning into a professional work environment. If you had a myriad of extracurricular activities in college along with making good grades, you may find the transition easier. However, the odds are that you will still find the shift to a career to be challenging. It can be hard to manage expectations of everyone you work with. If you have multiple supervisors or a large department to answer to, it can be tough to figure out who to answer to while completing work in a timely fashion.
In my experience, efficiency will set you apart from others. At the work place, I was always surprised when older colleagues were impressed that I responded promptly to an email or met a deadline. I didn’t understand how I was meeting or exceeding their expectations when this is what I presumed to be the norm. I quickly learned, however, that many folks attempt to do the bare minimum of work and believe they will excel. It often leads to frustration among co-workers who are ‘picking up the slack.’ It’s a bad habit to get into – and a hard habit to break if you’ve been inefficient throughout your academic career.
Most professionals will have slight variations on this, but my three tips for the utmost efficiency are:
1. Always arrive at work on time, if not early. Consistent tardiness not only reflects poorly on you, but it can make you feel rushed, panicked, or behind on the day’s work. Conversely, someone who arrives early is typically recognized as a go-getter and self-starter.
2. Plan your day as best you can. If you have a job where no two days are the same, this can be a difficult task. However, I think this is a crucial step. Whether you keep an online calendar or make lists, write down things in categories. I use: Follow Up, Must Do Today, and Begin Working On. This is what works for me but each person is different. If you wonder which of your duties is most important, ask a supervisor. You must have your priorities straight.
3. Limit online time. This includes work email. Many people set an email rule, such as only checking email three specific times a day. You can also mark emails that you need to follow up on so they will stand out to you later in the day. If you are in a position where you are CCed on many emails, keep in mind that you don’t need to respond to everything. Mainly, those are informative emails.
Lastly, I want to mention to never compromise your work just to be efficient. Efficiency is not rushing through everything to move on to the next task. If you do work poorly but quickly, people will notice.
I believe that learning to become efficient takes a great deal of time and often depends on your career. In a deadline-driven field, your priorities may change quickly. If we practice being efficient it usually becomes second nature.
Good luck and let me know how efficiency has helped you at your job.