8 Things You Need to Quit to Improve Efficiency14 Apr 2015

If taking an active approach to making an improvement of your productivity has failed you, as it has failed many of us, there is the passive way to go about it. Instead of taking an effort to apply new practices, see what you can stop doing to achieve an efficiency boosting result.

8 things you need to quit to improve efficiency

Say no to overtime

Working more has nothing to do with being more effective. Being more tired and feeling that you've done loads
– yes, but with actually increasing productivity – not at all. Henry Ford was one of the first whom we remember as concerned with this aspect of people's productivity. He measured, that when his workers had stopped working 10 hour workdays and switched to 8, their efficiency increased. This is why we now have 8-hour workdays, by the way. But this still doesn't mean that 8 is the only way to go. Point here being, the less time you have for doing the work, the better you're concentrating on doing it, not to mention decreased levels of fatigue and better job satisfaction related to your productivity increase.

Stop multitasking

You don't need to be a Kanban addict to know that the more you try to do at once, the less you will get done as a result. Not to mention the dubious quality of the work you do while managing an x number of other tasks at the same time. Multitasking results in lack of focus, no attention to the details nor grasping of the bigger picture, all impacting the quality of what you do. There is also the wasteful aspect of context switching – whenever you're changing the task you're doing, there is an adaptation time, necessary to remember the essence of the job and getting
a needed mind set.

Don't go to business meetings that have no set goal

If you don't know what you're meeting someone about, chances are you're not going to get much out of this meeting. You do need an agenda, talking points, clear goals to discuss and make decisions on.

Don't neglect your health

Not getting enough sleep, not enough (or not very nutritious food), not taking the time to relax and sitting down for too long all have a major influence on how you work, how clear your head is and how efficiently can you operate throughout the day.

Give up excessive control

Sorry to say this, but no-one is irreplaceable. There is therefore no need for you to control every aspect of the company going-ons yourself. There is a reason why organizations hire more than one man, delegate your work and let go of the omnipotent control desire. If it's not crucial that you oversee something personally – don't.

Put a stop to reading an email more than once

To save time and work more effectively, once you get to the inbox and start opening emails, it's a great rule to only take one go at each of them. So, as you're reading one – decide right away whether it can be discarded as irrelevant, dealt with immediately (and if so – just do it) or whether it needs extra work before it can be handled. What you don't want to do is go over any of them more than once, as this is pure waste of your time. Clear as you go!

Stop doing repeatable work and doubling up work mistakes

All kinds of jobs have a part to them, that is built of periodically repeatable tasks. A fantastic use of your time would be to make them as automated as they can get, whether it's with the use of software or other people – most repeatable tasks can be streamlined and sometimes “robotized”. The other part of this is not learning your lessons from the mistakes you've made previously regarding the same kind of work – only by using the knowledge gained while doing something wrong can you utilize the mistake for
a good purpose and let yourself and your methods grow.

Kill your perfectionism

This may hurt, I know, but keeping things absolutely perfect hardly ever pays off. More often than not, you end up getting bogged down in meaningless details, instead of looking at the big picture. What matters is whether the essence of what you're doing is correct, on track and on demand, perfected details can make a difference, but will not save a project that has no real merit. Don't waste your time then.

Good luck to all trying not to do any of these!