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The Art of Efficiency: How to Do One One Thing at a Time

We live in an age when we work more hours and feel more stress trying to get more done.

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Technology, meant to simplify our lives, saps our attention and steals our time. Has the need for a more efficient operation ever been greater?

Thankfully, we can learn to become more efficient at work, individually and collectively. Management consultants and business professors have long debated the relative merits (and even the definition) of efficiency as it pertains to the business world. In highly simplified terms, efficiency concerns the cost of input for the output produced – in other words, the best use of resources and the least waste of time and effort.

One of the areas where efficiency can be optimised is the work force, through increasing individual productivity – defined as the amount of work (products produced, customers served) an employee handles in a given time.

Don’t multi-task, it doesn’t work

In addition to making sure you have invested in the right equipment, environment and training to ensure optimal performance, you can increase productivity by encouraging staffers to put an end to a modern-day energy drain: multitasking.

Studies show it takes 25 to 40% longer to get a job done when you’re simultaneously trying to work on other projects. To be more productive, says Andrew Deutscher, vice president of business development at consulting firm The Energy Project, “do one thing, uninterrupted, for a sustained period of time.”

Take regular breaks

To help achieve maximum productivity for clients such as Google, Facebook and Green Mountain Coffee, The Energy Project relies on a wealth of physiological data about the basic human need for rest. The Yonkers, New York-based consultancy teaches that the key is a biological cadence known as the ultradian rhythm, which commands energy levels to rise and dip roughly every 90 minutes.

“At that 90-minute mark, you have to think about some sort of renewal, to put fuel back in your tank before you start the next cycle,” says senior vice president of facilitation and programmes Annie Perrin. She recommends encouraging workers to reach for a healthful snack, go for a short walk, listen to music or just push back from their desk, close their eyes and breathe deeply.

Try implementing lean management

Collectively, more productive workers can contribute to a more efficient workplace. On the macro level, companies can become more efficient by fine-tuning the methods of the so-called lean movement, spawned from Toyota’s highly collaborative and famously efficient production system.

The healthcare industry is one that has made great strides in workplace efficiency through lean management. Craig Vercruysse, COO for California Pacific Medical Center, part of Sutter Health, an extensive network of doctors and hospitals, says some Sutter facilities have rearranged their medication rooms to cut the time nurses need to gather supplies.

“If you save a minute for every nurse, and multiply that by the number of times the nurses go into the medication room, now it’s material,” Vercruysse says.

But lean, efficient management is about more than incremental savings. “Lean is kind of a culture and philosophy,” says Klaus Lemke, managing principal with Minneapolis-based Lean Project Consulting, who preaches new ways to generate efficiencies.

In the construction business, for example, lean could mean getting the subcontractors on a project – architect, electrician, plumber, landscaper, etc. – working as a team to complete the job more quickly. Hiring a substandard contractor based solely on the lowest bid could result in a project that goes over budget or past schedule – and this can affect a business’s reputation and long-term performance.

“When lean is working correctly,” Lemke says, “it focuses on the value stream.” Efficiency at its best.

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Productivity Power Tool: How To Use Time Blocking

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Get Organised

(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

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There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

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This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?

Toby Nwazor

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An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.

If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.

Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.

In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.

For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”

Related: Become A Life-Hacker

Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:

1. Automate all you can

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From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.

Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.

Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.

2. Invest in customer-relationship management software

It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.

Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.

Related: 11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

3. Set up a task-management system

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Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.

Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.

4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team

How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?

Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.

This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.

5. Block out chunks of time

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Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.

If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

Wrapping it up

With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Multitask Like Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg And Other Very Busy People

Nine entrepreneurs tell us how they get it all done.

Entrepreneur

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Think you’re busy? Take a look at Guy Fieri‘s calendar. Or a U.S. Army general’s. Or an in-demand teenage actor’s. Or the CEO of a globally recognised company’s.

Some of the busiest people on the planet took time out of their days to tell us how they get it all done. Take note!

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