5 tips for a more efficient workday

This may not be your preferred Sunday reading material, but it could take your week and career a long way.

Being more productive at work means working smarter, not harder (or longer) and getting the most out of the hours you spend in the office. Sometimes, however, people find their workdays spiral out of control even when they start each morning with a set plan and to-do list.

Carol Lavin Bernick, former chairman of beauty conglomerate Alberto Culver, published “Gather As You Go: Lessons Learned Along the Way,”a book sharing insights she’s learned through her many roles as a corporate leader, working mother, philanthropist and founder of the nonprofit organization Enchanted Backpack. Bernick offers these tips and tricks to help maximize the minutes of your workday for optimal productivity and efficiency.

Identify Important Versus Critical

Days fly by and your to-do list can feel like it is getting longer. It is common to do what is immediately important or necessary, not what is critical. Whether it be setting up your will, scheduling doctor’s appointments or making sure your kids are up-to-date on their shots and vaccines, building time into your life to ensure critical items are done is imperative. Schedule a couple of times each year – the same times every year – to focus on completing critical tasks.

Be Resourceful

If you are unsure how to do something at work, reach out to your colleagues for help. Make friends with another person on your team at a similar level who has been around a while. Take ideas from anywhere you can get them. Even the best CEOs ask for help. Consultants are often hired by leaders to provide their specialized expertise, unique skills and objective viewpoints to businesses.

“The smartest people I know ask for help,” Bernick said.

Divide and Conquer

There are times life can be simply overwhelming and it seems impossible to get everything done. When this happens, take the problem and break it down to its elements then assess what you need to do and what can be completed by others. Create a system for tracking the project, such as using a word processor document or another tool to mark when each item is complete. This is an easy way to see what tasks you still need to get done, help others grow as they help you and find motivation in seeing what you have already accomplished.

Give Your Boss Everything Needed

Work more efficiently by giving your boss everything needed when asked to prepare information. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the end-goal. Repeat back what is needed and why to ensure you are both on the same page. A simple template works in many cases.

For example, if you’re asked to research new office furniture, you’ll need to provide more than just costs. Be prepared to answer questions such as: When would it be completed or delivered? Is a deposit needed, and if so, how much? What is the cancellation date? What other options are offered (colors, sizes, styles, etc.)? Is there a warranty or guarantee? Are there photos or samples available to share? Will it meet the needs of the office? Are there any negatives? Comprehensive work can make the most of everyone’s time and increase the likelihood of impressing your boss.

Find more tips and inspiration to increase workplace productivity at gatherasyougo.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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