7 Habits to Ensure You're Being Efficient

Efficiency is the new buzz word with increased concern about the environment being energy efficient. But what about our own ability to be efficient both at home and at work? What does being efficient mean to you?

A dictionary defines efficiency as 'the state or quality of being efficient; competency in performance or the accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort.'

Make sure you own time and not the other way around. This article and the ensuing tips are not about striving for perfection, but instead about allowing yourself the opportunity to make better use of your time throughout the day.

Organizing and simplifying your life are important steps to be taken in order to be the most efficient you can be. A well organized office space or home will help you stay efficient.

Above all, when thinking about increasing your efficiency rate, remember to take care of yourself. Good food, plenty of rest, lots of water, and exercise will allow you to function at your best.

1. Schedule your day.
Either at the beginning of each day or the night before, plan out each day. You are only one person and you probably won't be able to do everything. Use a schedule to organize your day into time blocks. Write out a daily to-do list (electronic or in a notebook) and prioritize items by importance.Remember, only schedule around 70 percent of your day. The other 30 percent will be filled with interruptions, travel time between appointments and errands, and, sometimes, emergencies.

2. Prioritize.
List to-do items by order of importance and label each item by importance and urgency. Make items that are extremely important stand out by marking them with red ink, a highlighter, or a star. Only focus on a limited number of actions per day.

3. Multi-task small projects and details.
Although, multi-tasking does not work for everyone or every project (note: I wouldn't suggest trying to multi-task while writing a term paper), cooking supper while talking on the phone, or ironing while watching TV or listening to the radio can be effective. Try reading a book on the subway or bus, or a book on tape while driving to and from work. It's more efficient and a good use of time to do simple tasks simultaneously.

4. Say NO more often.
Recognize what your priorities are. If someone requests something of you that you are unable to do comfortably or does not fit into your priorities, just say no.

5. Delegate as much as possible.
You can't do everything alone. Allow others around you to help out. Allow friends, family, co-workers, your partner, or your children to assist around the house and/or office. Many people find this difficult because they feel they are the only one who can do it right. Start off with small steps. Don't hand over an entire project, but instead a step that will save you time and energy. Make sure you remember to thank these people appropriately.

6. Organize.
The more things that are organized both within the home and work environment, the faster work will get finished and the higher quality your work will be. Make lists for yourself and others.

7. Control your procrastination.
Many of us are procrastinators at heart, although for different reasons. One common phrase used to help combat procrastination is 'do the worst thing first.' At the beginning of each day, do the one item that stands out the most on your to-do list, or your most dreaded item. Set daily goals for yourself and plan lots of rewards.

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