How to work fast and efficient, two work attributes that can get you hired and promoted. While efficiency is largely influenced by years of work experience, being able to accomplish tasks faster is something that can be learned early, whether from home and school. In such a fast-paced and purely competitive workplace, how do you acquire these skills and become a better version of yourself? Today I want to share with you some of the best work habits I have learned from all these years of working in various companies such as pharmaceuticals (sales and marketing management), medical supplies (sales and marketing management), healthcare (sales and marketing management), nursing, to name a few. High-stress. Mentally demanding. Physically exhausting. I had to learn to swim on my own, fight adversity or lose the battle altogether. 22 years of work experience from the time I graduated from college at age 21. Gen-xer here, sandwiched between old school and modern technology.
To work fast and efficient, learn to prioritize. One strategy I have learned all the way from high school to my MBA, from entry-level job to management is to list down and separate easy from difficult. Easy could be as simple as returning a phone call, responding to an email, or even faxing a document. Anything that only requires common sense is categorized as easy. For example, out of 20 tasks you have lined up in a day, 15 can be accomplished very easily in one hour; that means you have practically knocked down 75% of your tasks which gives you more time to devote to the remaining 5 which will probably require critical thinking. Critical thinking is forming an objective analysis and thorough evaluation of certain task(s) that will significantly impact a business decision. For example in marketing, it involves sales forecasts (monthly, yearly, 5-years, 10-years, etc) while taking into considerations the various internal and external factors that will form part of your marketing strategies. This cannot be accomplished in one sitting, it may take several days to weeks or even months of continued planning, pencil-pushing and re-calculations. Same mindset can also be applied if you are running your own business, most importantly if you are self-employed because you are the department yourself. Are you receiving insane volume of emails? create sub-folders to group them so it’s easy to track down communications and follow-ups. For example, I have specific folders per supplier, per department, etc.
To work fast and efficient, learn to prioritize, but know what is urgent versus non-urgent. For example, if you work in the healthcare setting involving direct patient care, being able to triage and prioritize needs require both common sense and critical thinking. We receive large volume of calls at the clinic (family practice side), our front desk staff/ medical assistants are trained to evaluate urgent (i.e hospitalist calling another doctor regarding mutual patient admitted in the hospital), non-urgent, and emergency cases (patient’s compromised airway/breathing/circulation). In business, urgent means drop whatever you’re doing at the moment and switch your focus and/or resources that requires your full attention. In blogging, urgent means finishing a paid sponsored post on or before deadline, non-urgent means some press samples that were sent to you for feature consideration.
To work fast and efficient, re-learn to write down notes and create a quick cheat sheet for tasks you have not mastered yet. Special emphasis on re-learn because ever since computers ruled our lives, the art and science of writing is nearing extinction. Unless you are gifted with super powers of being able to remember everything including newly-introduced ideas and concepts, I highly encourage everyone to reach that ballpen again and write all important points that can make or break your day at work, then transcribe it somewhere (create a folder in your computer), that will be your cheat sheet until you have mastered a procedure. In the medical field, we strive for precision so even if I already know by heart the reconstitution ratio for injectables, settings for laser procedures, I still have my one-page sheet in front of me. When I was still doing taxes for our clinic before (which was totally unfamiliar ground for me), I have drafted a step-by-step how-to in each of the taxes we needed to do every month, quarter, semi-annual, annual. That way, I won’t be missing anything.
To work fast and efficient, learn to delegate. This tip goes out to all managers and supervisors alike. You need to trust your staff but they need to know the value of accountability. Establishing teamwork is not as easy as it sounds due to differences in work ethics and personality. I have my own way of getting things done fast and efficient but if a staff member has his or her own way and it will deliver the same exact results I wanted, by all means go ahead and implement it.
Finally, to work fast and efficient means you don’t have to work overtime. Work smart so you don’t have to work harder. Quality time spent with either family or friends is very important to me. When I was in my early to late 20’s, I was a crazy workaholic spending countless overtime at the office. I sacrificed my personal life, social life and everything in between which eventually resulted to broken relationships and health issues. That was a rude awakening and from that moment on, I changed my mindset and how I deal with work demands. That new perspective led me to new journeys and amazing opportunities. Work life balance, yes it can happen. You are in absolute control.