How to Work Effectively and Efficiently: 14 Work Strategies
We’re more distracted than ever before. From checking emails and social media to hopping on constant Zoom meetings, there is noise all around us. Many people also see the boundaries between personal and professional fading, negatively affecting productivity.
On top of that, the pandemic has also shifted the way our minds work. People spend more and more time working, balancing virtual meetings and chasing deadlines.But not all is lost. There are strategies to help you figure out how to work effectively and efficiently, in today’s work environments.
Before jumping onto the 14 hacks, let’s quickly discuss the meaning of working effectively and efficiently and why you should care.
Why is working efficiently and effectively important?
A lot of people use efficiency and effectiveness interchangeably in the corporate world. Nevertheless, it should be highlighted that they hold key differences:
- Working efficiently refers to producing a result in a way that consumes the least time, effort, and resources. For example, imagine you usually spend 4 hours on preparing a strategy report. If you suddenly manage to prepare the same report in 3 hours then that means you are more efficient.
- Working effectively focuses on the ability for the outcome to reach its goal. For example think of two employees working in sales. They both have the same amount workload and perform the same tasks, but one outperforms the other by 20%. We can then conclude that the employee with the high performance is more effective at their job.
Thus, efficiency focuses on how many resources (time, money, materials) you are using to deliver a result. Meanwhile, effectiveness focuses on to the success of the output, and is often connected to prioritizing the correct channels and providing high quality work.
So, what’s the best way to work? Depending on the job, one is not necessarily more valuable than the other. Rather, a balance of both is important. A fast employee is beneficial (efficiency), but so is the success of the end result (effectiveness).
It’s not enough if an employee speeds through their responsibilities to complete a project as fast as possible. While one could say they were very efficient, it is likely that the outcome is of low quality and does not reach its targets.
You might wonder: What should I start doing to be more effective and efficient? Well, wonder no more, these 14 work strategies will set the foundation for you to work effectively and efficiently on a consistent basis.
14 ways to work efficiently and effectively
We have summarized 14 work strategies that you can implement today if you’re looking to work more efficiently and effectively. Some are more focused on efficiency, others on effectiveness and some on both.
Now that you know more about the difference between being effective and efficient, we have separated the 14 strategies into three buckets:
- Efficiency + effectiveness
4 work strategies to maximize your efficiency
Here are 4 strategies we implement on our day-to-day to maximize the efficiency within our team:
- Reduce the number of meetings you’re in
- Set up a working routine
- Stick to your deadlines
- Use asynchronous video sharing
1. Reduce the number of meetings you’re in
According to the Harvard Business Review, meetings often are run badly and take up too much time. The article shares that executives spend nearly 23 hours weekly in meetings, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. Reducing meetings will help you work more efficiently.
If you can get the same amount of work done at the same quality. Curious how to fill the gap? We advocate for documentation, asynchronous work and task management to push your team ahead instead of meetings.
Note that meetings do not need to disappear all together. Instead, follow our virtual meetings best practices and make sure to communicate efficiently and document enough information so your team does not depend on lengthy meetings to be informed on what to do.
2. Set up a working routine
While flexible work grants you the freedom to work at your chosen times, having a set routine helps you assures you make an efficient use of your time. According to Forbes, implementing a structure to your day gives you a sense of control and helps improve productivity.
Figuring out at what time of day you are most productive and sticking with it helps you get the most done in the least amount of time. Chances are you know yourself best. Whether you're looking for a productive morning routine or get work done at night, build a consistent working routine that allows you to tackle tasks in the evening.
It’s important that your team allows for flexible and asynchronous work in order for this to succeed. If a company is strict on working hours or locations, it’s likely that some people might feel left out, which will hurt their efficiency to complete work in the long run.
Figuring out when, where and how your are most productive helps with getting the most done in the least amount of time. It’s also important that you stick with the activities, it is said that it will take on average 66 days for an activity to become a habit.
If you’re able to keep up with a schedule and workflow that mazimizes for your when, where and how for that timeframe, you’ll know you’ve been successful at building a working routine.
3. Stick to your deadlines
Your team is likely to waste time and resources without a timeframe for projects. Deadlines are a prioritization tool that help you assess your workload. Implementing reasonable deadlines will also boost motivation.
Everyone has probably gone through the satisfaction of checking a task their list before. We all know how motivating and validation that experience can be.Nevertheless, deadlines should not be rigid and hinder the effectiveness of a task.
If you notice that the output will be of dubious quality when sticking to a deadline, it’s important to discuss reprioritizing other work, involving other team members or moving the deadline back.
Avoid deadlines from hurting your effectiveness by focusing on urgency and importance. This is also known as the Eisenhower matrix. Balance whether a task has to be completed now or can wait for another time. It’s also important to think of how impactful a task will be.
4. Use asynchronous video sharing
Asynchronous video sharing is a great way to replace unnecessary meetings. At first, this might sound automated and cold. However, asynchronous video sharing can be highly personalized and allow you to communicate without added distractions.
You can send over a recorded Loom video. Team members can leave comments at different time stamps when watching your recording back or respond with a custom emoji in-video. Instead of a meeting, video content allows team members to walk through presentations, onboardings and more in their own time.
This improves efficiency as content remains relevant and doesn’t require you to explain things again to multiple stakeholders.Let’s say you typically do an onboarding on how your team uses Rock for task management and messaging.
If you record a Loom, you can share this video for all onboardings over the next few months instead of planning a dedicated meeting for every new hire.
4 work strategies you can implement to maximize the effectiveness of your team
Remember that effectiveness focuses on delivering high quality output. We have summarized 4 activities that we implement on the daily to make sure work is effective.
- Use meeting agendas
- Create a weekly to-do list
- Prioritize the most impactful tasks
- Connect with your team
1. Use meeting agendas
When you need a meeting to accomplish specific goals, it’s important to have structure. We have discussed in our best practices for meetings how a meeting agenda is crucial in getting the most out of your time spent meeting.
Setting up meeting agendas beforehand helps ensure the correct team members are present, important information is read in advance, and people are well informed on action items, objectives and the overall goal of the meeting.
Make sure to send the meeting agenda at least 24-48 in advance of meetings so that everyone who is attending has enough time to prepare. We discuss the most important meeting agenda examples in a dedicated article, but here are some highlights:
- Action items: What tasks need completing or what issues need resolving before meetings? For example, someone needs to upload a certain document.
- Informational updates: What information should you share between team members? Make sure to share the information in advance so you can avoid reading information and have a more in-depth presentation.
- Discussion topics: What should be discussed in the meeting? This can include brainstorming and open bullets for other team members to add their topics.
- Relevant files: What documents should you attach to aid the meeting? Make sure to make cloud files easily accessible and available to everyone.
2. Create a weekly to-do list
It's hard to work effectively with scattered thoughts all over the place. A lack of organization will leave you stressed and unable to work on what will be most impactful.Weekly to-do lists allow you to start the week off right.
By breaking large projects into smaller tasks, you organize your goals into achievable activities. This way, you prioritize work that is most important and relevant to achieving company goals and objectives.
However, a to-do list is not one size fits all. If you are the kind of person that stresses over organization, a traditional to-do list might restrict you. If so, take a look at more productive alternatives to a weekly to do list template.
Internally we often use a bunch of Rock features to keep important tasks at hand:
- We use Set Aside to store messages, tasks, notes and topics easily available.
- Summarize all tasks across different spaces in a dedicated ‘My Tasks’ panel.
- Organize tasks in sprints to reduce the cognitive load.
- Discuss to-do’s in depth with topics, dedicated discussions in group spaces.
- Use the task board in the personal space to organize priorities.
3. Prioritize the most impactful tasks
If you’re still left thinking - what should I start doing to be more effective? A simple takeaway would be to prioritize. Prioritization allows you to make the most of your time at work.
This process starts with your to-do list. Instead of cluttering up your list with unimportant tasks that might overwhelm you, focus on tasks that drive value first. Start your day by focusing on tasks that are important and urgent, in line with previously discussed deadlines.
Alongside urgency, focus on tasks that are important to your long-term goals. If a task is neither urgent nor important, it is not a priority.
4. Connect with your team
A significant part of working effectively is fostering good communication within your team. Note that this does not mean scheduling redundant meetings. Instead, build an environment that is engaging and open. Here are some core values you should implement:
- Trust: Trust is key to work effectively as a team. Teams lose effectiveness when trust is lacking as creativity and different perspectives are not nurtured.
- Open feedback: Team members should share their thoughts and feelings, even if they are negative. Everyone welcomes constructive criticism. This will make sure that work relationships and output is as good as can possibly be. Or if there are issues, they can be discussed and quickly resolved.
- Recognition: Every individual feels valued and receives the recognition they deserve. Team members will get more satisfaction out of continuously improving on past performance if it’s recognized and celebrated by direct team members.
Communication goes beyond your close circle. You should extend it to other departments for effective and efficient results. This way, the process of improving both cross departmental collaboration and cross functional collaboration runs smoothly.
6 Work Strategies to implement if you want to work effectively and efficiently
Now that we’ve shared some tips with you about working more effectively or efficiently, it’s time to look into some activities that combine both:
- Take time off and rest
- Set asynchronous work as your default
- Use a project management framework
- Implement task management in your team
- Leverage documentation
- Use all-in-one tools
1. Take time off and rest
If rest isn’t in your vocabulary, forget effectiveness and efficiency. Adequate rest is key to preventing burnout. It might seem counterintuitive, but working less is the real secret to create valuable output with the least amount of resources.
Your brain is like a muscle. Without periods of rest in between workouts, it will become fatigued and unable to perform at the highest level. Staying well-rested is essential to maintaining your concentration, motivation, and ability to solve problems.
Make sure that everyone is well-rested and takes enough rest to avoid a toxic work culture. Introducing check-in questions for meetings and keeping an eye on types of communication styles can help you spot issues before they arise and act immediately.
Rest is not just the occasional vacation. While taking time off is crucial, rest needs to be an everyday practice. For example, 10 minutes of daily mindfulness practice with positive affirmation for work can improve your productivity and health.
2. Set asynchronous work as your default
What’s the best way to work for effective and efficient results? We advocate for Asynchronous work as your collaboration default. This methodology does not require all team members to be online at the same time, providing the whole team with more flexibility.
Employees can focus on their individual efficiency and effectiveness without waiting for others to finish tasks. Think of it like a relay race instead of a sprint. A team member can pick up a task from another one without needing to wait for an “okay.”
There is no need for constant check-ins, meetings, and consistent messaging that lead to interruptions. Employees can stay organized at work without relying on others. Moreover, asynchronous work allows you to choose the schedule that maximizes your productivity.
Without needing to be online simultaneously, you have the freedom to start your day according to your needs.
3. Use a project management framework
The right project management framework can help you organize your work in a more structured way. Project management provides you with processes and guidelines to help deliver efficient and effective projects. To find the right one, ask yourself - what’s the best way to work for your team?
Although there are plenty of frameworks, Agile vs Waterfall is one of the largest feuds in the project management sphere. Despite their differences, they are also some of the most popular. However, major companies such as Apple and IBM use Agile due to its proven success.
Agile improves productivity by breaking down complex projects into smaller pieces and phases, known as sprints.
4. Implement task management in your team
Task management allows you to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness by breaking large goals into smaller stepping stones. This makes prioritizing, optimizing workflows and getting work done easier as it’s configured in smaller pieces.
Since prioritization is key with tasks management, you can leverage the different features it offers to focus on the most important work. You can also track how many activities you finished in different time frames.
This makes it easier to become more efficient as time passes as you’ll be able to track how long you spend on different activities, and find back past activities without searching across folders or docs.Here are a few strategies you can easily integrate into your task management:
- Deadlines: add a start or due date to your tasks and make sure that they are finished in time.
- Connect with your team: use the comment section, assignees and followers to keep all relevant team members in the loop.
- @mention: You can @mention tasks in comments, descriptions and outside of the Tasks mini-app to quickly set up a weekly to-do-list.
- Prioritize: Tasks have a priority field: Highest, high, medium, low, lowest. Updating your tasks with this field allows you to filter all tasks to only see the most important to-do’s.
5. Leverage documentation
A core component to working effectively and efficiently is documentation. This consists of storing past activities, and information in places that are easily accessible to you and the rest of your team. Here’s how documentation helps with efficiency and effectiveness:
- Implementing documentation makes your team more efficient as they spend less time searching for relevant work information. Well documented teams easily access important information without searching or reaching out to team members.
- Teams become more effective through documentation because they have more information available when completing a task. They can also more easily access relevant activities or information from the past that can help improve the output.
Getting a file management platform like Google Drive or Dropbox is not enough though. There’s nothing worse than endlessly searching for information across your folders or continuously sharing links with different team members.
We initially encountered the same issues, which is why we added a native integration with the most popular cloud storage providers to Rock. Think of Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Notion, Miro, Figma and many others in the Files mini-app.
Rock users can easily access shared files in the Files mini-app. Add relevant project folders to your space and quickly make them available to everyone. You can also attach cloud files to the description of tasks, notes and topics to keep work well-documented.
6. Use all-in-one tools
If you’re using multiple tools to communicate and collaborate with your team then bringing it all together might help your team. Disconnected workflows cause a lot of context switching. This reduces efficiency and effectiveness in the following way:
- Efficiency is reduced because people have to switch between platforms to find information or get work done. This all takes time which could have been spent in more productive ways.
- Effectiveness is harmed because team members struggle to have access to all the resources they need to provide valuable output.
Rock combines messaging with tasks and your favorite apps in one place so you can focus on maximizing effective and efficient work. This way you can avoid switching between a separate messaging and task management platform to get work done.
Work Efficiency and Effectively with Rock
Rock enables you to work as effectively and efficiently as possible.The platform offers with full-fledged project and task management in one place. A wide range of features help you implement all 14 best practices in your day-to-day work.
Rock allows you to tackle every point on our list, from a weekly to-do list to asynchronous work in general. Sign up for free and try it out. Join one of our dedicate communities if you’re looking to learn more about work strategies, staying productive and getting work done:
- The Future of Remote Work: This community focuses on staying productive, growing a team and building a culture in remote environments. Meet with other professionals and access new resources on the daily.
- The Future of Project Management: Trying to make sense of tasks, notes and other features for project management frameworks? We discuss different workflows, methodologies and project management applications in this dedicated community.
- The Future of Rock: Join the Rock team as we build the future of collaboration and productivity. Learn more about upcoming features, share product suggestions and access the latest resources and events from the Rock team.