How To Work Faster (With Tips and Examples)
Time management is a valuable skill in the workplace and at home. To manage their time better, some employees apply techniques to increase their pace and achieve their tasks in less time. Employees who work faster are often more productive and valued by employers. In this article, we explain why it is important to work faster and review 10 tips to increase your efficiency at work.
Time management is a crucial skill in today’s business world. Employers value the ability to work faster, and employees benefit from this skill as well. When people talk about working faster, it doesn’t only refer to speed. The objective is not to finish your work quickly at a lower quality but to be smarter when you work. Working smarter is obtaining the best results in less time while wasting less time and energy. This strategy requires taking a minute to think through your work habits and reflect on ways to be more efficient in the same allotted time.
When you work faster, you can finish your obligations earlier and have more time for your personal life and hobbies, like spending time with your family and friends. It also contributes to improving your self-esteem. When you’re able to complete more work, you might notice a growing sense of accomplishment that benefits your well-being and improves your outlook on work and life.
How to Get an Employee to Work Faster
There is no doubt that the pace of work everywhere has increased. We’re all expected to do more in less time. So what do you do if you have a tortoise on your team? How do you diagnose why he takes so long to get his work done? And how do you then help him understand the importance of picking up the pace — and support him in doing so?
What the Experts Say
A slower worker doesn’t just reduce a team’s productivity — he can also hurt his colleagues’ morale, says Lindsay McGregor, the coauthor of Primed to Perform and co-founder of Vega Factor. “When everyone is under pressure to deliver, anything that is holding a team back can become really demotivating.” Yet scaring people into speeding up will only end up backfiring, says Elizabeth Grace Saunders, a time coach and the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training. “You want to be a partner in the improvement process,” she says, and show the employee that working more quickly is also about making him the most successful employee he can be — which is good not only for his work product but for his advancement.
Find the source of the sluggishness
There can be so many different reasons why someone is slower than you would like. But even if you have an idea of the root of the problem, the best path forward is to simply ask. Don’t go into the conversation with preconceived ideas. Your employee might be struggling with a new task, or be so much of a perfectionist that she’s devoting too much time to certain projects. She might be slow because she’s waiting on late work from other team members, or she may not even realize that she’s not meeting expectations. “Start with assuming positive intent,” says McGregor. “Assume this person wants to do a good job and if they knew how, they would.” If you approach the conversation with curiosity, you’ll be better positioned to brainstorm workable, effective solutions.
Set clear, specific expectations
It may be that your lagging worker doesn’t even realize that he’s slow, in part because he doesn’t understand what’s expected of him. “One of the most difficult things for someone to learn in a new role is figuring out what ‘good’ looks like,” says McGregor. “It takes a lot of effort on the part of a manager to show someone what that is.” Rather than haranguing a worker for a late financial report, sit down and create a specific schedule for deliverables. Give her guidance on where you want her to emphasize her time, and also how long something should take. Someone who is a perfectionist will also benefit from clear deadlines. “People who are perfectionists have a really hard time differentiating between where perfection matters and when it doesn’t,” says Saunders. That means it’s up to you to highlight goals, even if it feels at first like micromanaging.
Eliminate roadblocks and hurdles
There may be impediments to an employee’s workflow that you aren’t even aware of. Getting work done in a timely fashion can be impossible, for instance, if an employee has a steady parade of people coming by his office asking for help or advice. Or you may learn that your lagging employee doesn’t have all the software or equipment that he needs to do his job effectively. “Sometimes systems are outdated, or workers simply don’t know how to use the tools that they have and they need training,” says Saunders. Your worker may be doing some tasks manually, for instance, that would be more quickly done with digital tools. Or she may need regular access to a printer that is all the way across the office. Ask detailed questions about her process, and jointly look for solutions that could help her speed up her workflow. Once you find out where the blockages are, brainstorm ways to clear them and then clearly show your support for those efforts.
Avoid weaponizing data
You may have lots of data at the ready that shows how a certain worker performs at a snail’s pace compared to her colleagues. But such information can be used for both good and ill, says McGregor. If you use such data in the right way — say, as a nudge that focuses the employee on customer results — it may help her improve her work habits over time. “But if you embarrass people with it, or use it for explicit rewards, people will take shortcuts to meet goals in name, but not spirit,” she says. Since you are trying to avoid a confrontational stance anyway, you should also avoid using data as a cudgel to get the results you want.
Divide large assignments into smaller ones
Break projects down into smaller deliverables and check in at predetermined deadlines to make sure everything’s proceeding smoothly. This strategy can particularly help with procrastinators, says Saunders. “Breaking it down into smaller parts can help people that struggle with procrastination to feel a greater sense of urgency and to follow through in a more timely manner.” Research has found that the sense of progress generated by small wins also helps employees stay motivated.
Create and stick to a routine.
“We are creatures of habit, and so are our brains. When we establish routines, we can carry out tasks faster since we don’t have to ‘think’ about the task – or prepare for it – as much, and can work on autopilot,” says Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach, speaker, and author.
Want to the secret of getting more done? Reduce the amount of decisions you have to make throughout the day. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg wore that same outfit for years. Most days he still does. It prevented fatigue. I will say though, I tried this and it was hard on my relationship with my wife. Make sure you find your balance.
“The counterintuitive secret to getting things done is to make them more automatic, so they require less energy,” wrote Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, in the Harvard Business Review.
“It turns out we each have one reservoir of will and discipline, and it gets progressively depleted by any act of conscious self-regulation. In other words, if you spend energy trying to resist a fragrant chocolate chip cookie, you’ll have less energy left over to solve a difficult problem. Will and discipline decline inexorably as the day wears on.”
In other words, build routines and habits so that you’re not deciding. You’re just doing. Hence why Zuck wore the same clothes everyday. By eliminating those silly or frivolous, he could focus all of his energy on more important work decisions.
Since stress can cause physical, emotional, and behavioral problems – which can impact your health, energy, well-being, and mental alertness – it’s no surprise that stress hinders your work performance.
According to the American Psychological Association, “the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby.”
The least effective strategies, however “are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.”
Another effective stress management technique is to increase your control of a situation in advance. You can start by planning tomorrow the night before and sticking to your routine. This way you know what to expect in the morning.