When we have too much to do in relation to the amount of time we have at our disposal, one strategy is of course to do fewer tasks, so in other words, simply not prioritize some of our tasks (and for instance delegate them to someone else).
But what if we do not have any colleagues to delegate to? What if the colleagues we have themselves have an even heavier workload? Or if everything we have to do is more or less important and we cannot afford to de-prioritize anything (if we still want to attain the goals we are striving towards)?
Work less and get the same results
Let’s do what we normally do, only faster.
If we perform the tasks we have to do at higher speed we will have time to do more of them in the same amount of time as we previously did less in.
If this idea makes you more stressed and you picture yourself as Charlie Chaplin by the assembly line in the movie Modern Times, try thinking that the whole idea is that you will have to work less and still get the same results as before.
Here are four suggestion of how you can do tasks faster.
- Automatize – Create macros and simple programs that perform steps in processes you repeat frequently, so that you only have to “press a button” in order for the step to be completed. For instance use applications such as Visual Basic for Applications and built-in macros if you are working in a Windows-environment, and Apple Script and Automator if you are working on a Mac.
- Semi-automize – Write checklists for recurring tasks. You will have to do the work yourself, but you will save time by not having to remember how you usually perform the task. Simply open the checklist and follow its instructions. You can be certain that you are doing the right and the same steps every time (that is, following the method or process you have found by trial and error, see point number four below) and you can relax while working rather than exerting more effort than necessary to do trivial tasks.
- Compete against yourself – If you, like me, are motivated by continuously simplifying, resolve to from now on do a certain task faster. Clock yourself to see how long it takes you to do the task, and keep track of the time it takes you every time you do it in a spreadsheet. Create a diagram that clearly shows how you are performing the task faster and faster. Make sure to celebrate when you reach the goal you have set for yourself!
- Refine your processes – Keep a watchful eye on how you work. Try spotting redundant or excessive elements or steps. Refine your processes by removing steps, shuffling the order in which you do things, and create templates so that you avoid re-inventing the wheel over and over again. Draw the process as a flow chart (so that you have something concrete to work with in the improvement process) or as a simple checklist.
Do more things or have more time off
If we make a conscious effort to speed up the doing and completion of our recurrent tasks, we will have more time at our disposal. This is time we either can use to get more things done or to give ourselves more time off work (or work on other tasks in a lower tempo).
Spending unnecessarily large amounts of time on the tasks we have to do is a waste, as long as we are not sincerely enjoying working at a slower pace (and hence are forced to do fewer things in order to have a reasonable workload).
What is your trick?
What is your best tip on how we can work with tasks faster? Leave a comment to spread your experiences.