The effectiveness of our work is reflected by the way in which our projects are realized. Whether or not the assignments that we are given are completed appropriately and on time depends, in most cases, on the way we work.
More and more often managers of large companies, members of task groups, and enterprise owners search for effective methods of increasing their own effectiveness in relation to work. These people sometimes have problems with their everyday duties and that is why they look for solutions to this problem. They want to be good at their work, act as successfully and as correctly as possible, and this, of course, equals the need to increase personal effectiveness.
Usually, individual effectiveness is a result of the habits that we acquire during work and the way in which we organize our activities. Bad habits inhibit work. They can destabilize the rhythm of an entire day and lead to the feeling that our work piles up. Undoubtedly, such a situation can be very frustrating and overwhelming. We lack the necessary motivation to work more. We cannot allow for personal discouragement to influence the process of getting things done.
Therefore, it is high time to start looking for the best possible ways of eliminating low personal effectiveness.
Rule number one: do not postpone anything
There are a few universal rules that help increase personal effectiveness quickly and – what is more important – successfully. The most important thing is to complete every task as soon as possible without delaying anything to a later time. The implementation of this rule into our efforts at increasing personal effectiveness is, in fact, the most basic thing. This rule says that we should take up a task immediately, especially if we need less than fifteen minutes to finish it entirely. If it is more time consuming, or if we cannot deal with it immediately for some reason, we should not postpone it to an unspecified moment in the future. It is imperative that we establish a specific date for such an activity. Among people who apply this rule in practice, it usually turns out that the amount of time needed to complete various tasks is far smaller than initially predicted. As a result, these people are able to complete more tasks at work, and this automatically leads to increasing their personal effectiveness.
The path to higher effectiveness
Professional duties should not be procrastinated. If we complete our tasks immediately and only once, we make a first important step on the way to boosting our individual effectiveness. We cannot postpone matters to a later date because we can totally forget about what we have to do unless we are very systematic and implement our tasks into the project management system. As a side note, such a system proves to be a very useful tool in realizing any projects – not just on professional basis. We cannot have our work doubled. If we successfully accomplish a given task during our first approach to it, we do not have to come back to it later on. If we follow this rule, we gain time to finish other tasks. Generally, this hint can be referred to anything, not just reading documents from our contractors or answering emails.
Rule number two: improve concentration
The second important step that helps increase individual effectiveness is the improvement of concentration. Generally speaking, while realizing important and complicated projects at work, managers, team members and all other employees have a set of tasks of high and low importance to complete. Proper ordering of such tasks helps improve concentration. Thanks to this, we do not feel overburdened with work. It is always worth to prepare a list of things to do and to decide on the amount of time needed to complete them. We can do this in a traditional way – we can write down all matters on a sheet of paper – or we can implement our plans into a specially designed application.
It has to be stated that it is far easier to add adjustments to such a plan by electronic than traditional means. If we form a list of tasks to perform, we do not overburden our minds with data, and we do not lose concentration. It is worth to pursue work optimization. If it is possible, it is worth to do several things at the same time; if it is not, we should take up a single task and work on it till we finish it completely (and then move on to the next).
Generally speaking, while fulfilling everyday duties, most people unconsciously take up relatively easy and pleasant tasks. This may not be an appropriate approach. We should not postpone the tasks which are difficult and which we do not like. If we postpone them, we live our day with the ominous thought in the corner of our mind that there is still something unpleasant to complete. It is best to approach them early, at the beginning of a day, and simply be done with them. Once the most difficult tasks are finished, an employee is satisfied and can focus on current matters.
Thanks to such an approach we can successfully eliminate the stress related to the moment in which we have to deal with the most unpleasant matters. It is worth noting that, very often, the matters that are perceived as difficult turn out to be much easier to realize than predicted. Some tasks might become impossible to accomplish if we do not take care of them immediately. Small issues are easy to deal with individually, however, if they accumulate, they create a much bigger problem which requires a lot of time and effort to solve. We have to do all we can to avoid such crisis situations.
At the same time, we must not allow for delays to appear if a given task is important to somebody else. Such a person may ask questions about the date of completion of our assignment. In consequence, we lose time for needless explanations. We can avoid them if we reduce the number of the distracting factors that negatively influence our performance at work. On the other hand, as project managers, we should issue instructions which are clear and easy to understand for everyone. By doing so we do not have to individually explain to every employee what he or she has to do. There are many channels by means of which we can send such messages, however, it is best to use electronic mail because it does not distract the work of the entire team. We should use telephones only when dealing with urgent matters. Every telephone conversation can distract a person who is currently working on a given task. It is worth to form thematic groups for the tasks which are of similar type; it will be easier to complete them.
The organization of work
The work on personal effectiveness does not come down simply to the implementation of the aforementioned rules to our everyday plan. Another important element is the organization of work itself. Many specialists claim that it is, in fact, the critical factor in relation to effectiveness. First of all, we should take a look at our workplace and pay careful attention to our typical rhythm of the day. Next, we should think about implementing a system that would improve our organization and facilitate our work. We should divide all our resources, both traditionally and electronically stored, into two separate areas – passive and active. The active area should encompass all the activities which are currently being realized. In the passive area, closed matters are kept. At the end of the day, the active area should have fewer resources than before because, obviously, we complete some tasks as time passes by. Never leave emails without an answer, unless they appear after you finish your work. Additionally, a good structure of catalogues on our hard drive and electronic mailbox proves to be a very useful thing. We should order such data with reference to our professional duties. Thanks to such an approach, it is much easier to find the messages or documents needed at a specific moment.
A realistic plan
In every case, our plan of action for a given period of time should be realistic. It may be a day, a week, or even a month if we are able to prepare a detailed plan for such a long time span.
We should concentrate on a task which is important, but not urgent yet. We must avoid situations in which we have to work under pressure because under such circumstances our work is much less effective. Of course, this is not always the case. There are people who claim that they work better under pressure, however, there are few such people. If we have too many urgent matters, emergencies, or unexpected situations, it is hard for us to concentrate our energy on completing specific tasks.
It is worth to carry out the so-called time audit. What is it all about? Well, it is enough to analyze a week of our work and write down the things which consume the biggest amounts of time. After summarizing the results, we are able to evaluate which activities can be minimized and which should be given more time to complete. On the basis of a well-prepared time audit we are able to determine what requires the most of our time during the week, and what can be totally eliminated from our plans. It is imperative that we establish the priorities of our work. According to the Pareto principle, we should concentrate on the 20% of our key actions which bring 80% of results. If we clearly specify our aims, it is much easier to pursue them. The key to successful realization of tasks lies in their appropriate planning in the short run (a day, etc.) and in the long run as well. Additionally, all plans should be verified regularly.
To summarize, it is possible to increase personal effectiveness if we objectively approach our professional duties and if we learn how to optimize our actions. It is very important to carefully plan all our tasks and aims and to verify them. If we always focus on the completion of the tasks which we planned for a given day and if we do not postpone anything to a later date, there is a high chance that the effectiveness of our work will significantly increase over time.