Is it really possible to get 100% of your work done faster and with better efficiency? Can you really finish your work around noon time when others are grabbing their next cup of coffee but you’re already shutting down your computer and enjoying the rest of your day?
In short, the answer is yes. You can get it all done and work faster if you want to. This is exactly what you are going to discover in this article.
There is no doubt that we all have only 24 hours a day, but if you can work faster and get things done quickly, you will have more time for other stuff in your life.
So here are the 7 techniques how you can deliver your work faster, with better efficiency, and without suffering the quality of your work:
1. Allocate a time frame for your task
No matter what kind of task you do, you need to allocate a time frame or a deadline for it.
If you don’t allocate a time frame, guess what will happen, you will take as long as possible to get the work done.
For example, if you need to write a report today, don’t leave the task open-ended without a time frame. Include a deadline for when you need to get the report done, say by 2 PM in the afternoon.
When you have a clear deadline, you know exactly when to deliver the result.
In business, there’s the Parkinson’s Law that states, “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it”. In other words, if you don’t allocate a time frame for when to get the work done, you will take as long as you can.
If you have 3 days to complete the project, you will take 3 days to do it. If you have 24 hours to get the work done, then you will deliver the work within 24 hours.
I found that this is true.
For instance, I write my blog post every Tuesday and Thursday. And when I include a deadline for what time I should deliver the post, I will take as long as I need. Sometimes, I started at about 10 AM, and finish my article at around 4 PM. That’s a long time. And usually, my articles are at least 3,000 words.
However, I will get my article done faster whenever I give myself a time frame, say by 2 PM I must deliver the article. And that’s exactly what I got by 2 PM.
When I give myself a time frame, I become more focused and I know exactly what kind of result I must deliver, and by what time.
This is why giving yourself a time frame on every major task is important.
When you don’t allocate a time frame for your task, the Parkinson’s Law will kick in and you will take as long as you need to get the work done.
2. End your day by 3 PM
I learned this technique from an article on Forbes when doing research on this topic. The author of the article, Siimon Reynolds suggested his readers act as if their workday ends by 11 AM and they must get everything done by then.
In my opinion, I believe that 11 AM is way too extreme. In my country, Malaysia, most people start their work from 9 AM to 6 PM. Hence, if you end your workday at 11 AM, you only work for 2 hours. And that’s a little too short.
Hence, I suggest you treat it as if your workday ends by 3 PM or 4 PM.
The key is to alter your mentality.
When you think you can work until 6 PM, usually, you will waste most of your morning on unnecessary or unimportant work.
Like what the article Siimon wrote in the article:
“The average person has done virtually nothing of consequence by 11 AM; they have chatted with their co-workers, checked their emails, grabbed a coffee, and perhaps planned their day. They then complain they don’t have enough time to get their job done.”
Therefore, change your thinking – act like you have to leave your office by 3 PM and you will have to get everything done before that.
When you shifted your mindset, things will work out differently. Suddenly, you don’t have so much time to waste. And you will work faster because you really want to get things done faster and leave earlier, don’t you?
3. Schedule your work before you start your day
Another important technique that helps you become a faster worker is to schedule your work before you start your day.
In other words, plan your day.
I know that things may not go according to your plan, but planning is still necessary.
When you go to the office without having a clear plan of what you need to do, first, you will waste your time thinking and scheduling work. Second, you become reactive and you respond to whatever that comes to you.
Successful people who accomplish extraordinary results in life plan their day, and most even plan their lives.
Like Sir Richard Branson. He said it in his blog post that one of the secrets to success is none other than having a to-do list.
“The act of writing your tasks and thoughts down is useful as it helps to make sense of your ideas and give you focus,” wrote Branson on his blog.
So don’t start your day without having a to-do list. It helps in knowing what you need to do so that you can waste no time and focus on getting the tasks done.
Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by writing down 20 or 50 things to do.
Most people only able to get 4 – 6 items done on a typical day. Thus, make sure you only schedule high-impact tasks that are really important to your to-do list.
Scrap the thinking that more is better. When it comes to being productive, the Pareto’s Rule is king. Do and focus on what is important. Don’t try to do everything because you can’t.
Here’s an interesting article you may want to read:
4. Wake up earlier
One of the most direct ways to get your work done faster and earlier is to wake up early. When you start your day early, you can get things done earlier and have more time for other things.
Here are some examples of successful people who wake up extremely early to get things done according to Huff Post:
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, one of my favorite movie stars, wakes up and hit the gym for his routine workout by 4 AM each day.
- Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square gets up at 5 AM to meditate and exercise before he gets into the office.
- Richard Branson, the billionaire behind Virgin Group wakes up around 5:45 AM to exercise and have breakfast before he starts his day.
- And the famous billionaire investor, Warren Buffett wakes up at 6.45 AM and starts his day by reading the newspaper.
- And the list goes on and on.
Now, you don’t have to wake up as early as 5 AM if you don’t want to, but one thing you have to understand is that most successful people choose to wake up early so that they can kick-start their day in the right pace.
Imagine if you wake up late and you have to rush to the office. You don’t have time for a good shower or a healthy breakfast. You don’t spend quality time with your loved ones and you have to rush to the office because you’re late. How do you think your day will turn out? Not good.
As a blogger, I can wake up any time I want, but still, I choose to get up at 6.20 AM every day. I start my work between 9 to 10 AM. And I prefer to get up early so that I have plenty of time to prepare myself for the rest of the day.
I will read in the morning, schedule my work, make breakfast, and sometimes even send my wife to work.
So if you want to get your work done faster, get up early.
5. Take micro-breaks
This may sound contradicting, but trust me, taking micro-breaks throughout the day allows you to get your work done faster.
You have to understand that we’re not machines. We’re humans. And being a human, we all need rests to recharge our energy, motivation, and willpower.
If you always procrastinate, feeling exhausted at the end of your workday, or feel like you’re not making much progress even though you spend a lot of time on a task, it may be a sign you’re not taking enough breaks.
Research has proved that taking regular short breaks can boost our productivity throughout the day. Our energy and willpower work just like our mobile phone’s battery.
In the morning, if you have a good sleep the night before, your energy bar will be full at 100%. And as you start your day, get busy, and work on your stuff, you use your energy. So if you don’t take a break to recharge your battery, eventually, you will deplete it and feel exhausted.
When you lack the willpower, it will be difficult to focus on your task at hand. This is why taking micro-breaks is important. You constantly recharge yourself to maintain your productivity by refreshing your mind through breaks.
So how do you take micro-breaks? Here are some easy methods:
Taking a break once an hour.
There were studies showed that those who distract themselves for a break once an hour performs better than those who keep at it without taking a break.
Move your body.
As human beings, our bodies are not designed to sit around all day long. You need to move to increase your blood and oxygen flow. Hence, move your body or take a walk throughout the day.
Take a tea break.
We all know that tea can be good for us due to its antioxidants entities, but the act of taking time away from your work gives you time to slow down and refresh your mental energy.
And if you want to learn more about taking breaks, read my previous article:
6. Batch similar tasks together
Want to work faster? Then batch your similar tasks together. This is easy to understand, but most people don’t do it.
I used to jumble all my work together, but since a few months back, I started to follow Jack Dorsey’s “theme day” concept to approach my work.
Being a CEO to both Square and Twitter, Dorsey needs to be extremely productive in managing his time. So how does he keep up with his job? This is what he said on Forbes:
“The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.”
The concept of daily themes is effective because when you do so, you are batching similar tasks together and get them all done at the same time.
As for me, on Tuesday and Thursday, which are my blogging day, I will write long-form content for my blog. Like writing this article right now, I devoted my entire day for content writing. And for Wednesday, I use this day for creating images for Pinterest and Facebook.
After applying this concept for about 2 months, I can say that I’m able to work faster because I can focus better.
When you allow yourself to focus on a task for long enough, you’re able to reach the ‘flow state’ where you can perform better. The flow state is exactly what we’re going to talk about in the next technique.
Therefore, combine your effort together. Batch similar tasks so that you can get them all done at the same time.
For instance, if you want to write content for your blog, don’t brainstorm to come up with just one title only. Generate all the content ideas together, say you can come up with a month’s worth of article titles.
And when you proceed to writing, focus on just the writing. Don’t switch from writing to creating images and then back to writing again.
If you want to get your work done faster with higher efficiency, focus on doing one thing until you get it done. Only then you switch to another task.
7. Enter your flow state
I bet there are times when you lost yourself in your work, so much so that you’re so focused at what you do and you don’t realize the time. And this is the flow state.
The concept of flow was first coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. And this is what he said about flow:
“I developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of flow—the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”
In short, when you’re in the flow state, you are 100% focused on the task at hand. You will lose track of time and you will forget about the things that are happening around you.
More importantly, you become more creative, productive, and able to get your work done faster without sacrificing quality.
So how do you achieve the flow state? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Make sure there are no distractions.
You want to allow yourself to focus 100% on the task at hand and you don’t want to have interruptions that take away your attention.
Lock yourself in the room if necessary, switch off your phone, put on the headphones, and make sure you are not distracted because you’re hungry.
2) Do not multitask.
If you multitask, you are distracting yourself. While it may sound multitasking is a much better approach to getting things done, when it comes to productivity, nothing beats single-tasking.
Our brains just don’t function that way. We can’t focus on two things at the same time. We can do two things simultaneously, we just can’t focus on both at the same time. What really happens is in our brains is we’re constantly switching focus from one task to another.
This is why we can’t text someone while driving. We can’t read and talk to someone at the same time.
3) Allow yourself enough time to focus on the task.
Flow state will not come to you instantly. It takes time to get into it. You need to give yourself time to fully focus on a task and get into a flow state. It’s like warming up.
It can take minutes to enter a flow state. And whenever you are interrupted, you will have to restart again.
Practicing these 3 steps above can greatly increase your chances of entering a flow state.
Mindfulness meditation helps in boosting your flow too. When you are absolutely calmed, at the present, and focused, you can get your work done faster.
But I’m not an expert with mindfulness meditation. So if you want to learn, learn from the experts. And one of them is none other than Jason Stephenson.
Imagine if you could get all of your work done by 3 PM, how will that make you feel? What if you can double your productivity and get more done each day and each week? How much more can you accomplish?
We have covered a lot of ground in this article. If you want to work faster, get more done, and become more productive, use the 7 techniques shared above.