How to Work Effectively and Efficiently: 14 Work Strategies





Future of Work


Distractions are everywhere. Between endless emails, social media, and nonstop Zoom meetings, it's hard to stay focused. Fortunately, there are strategies aimed at how to work effectively and efficiently on the daily.

I spent the last 3 years growing a productivity tool and writing 100+ blogs focused on productivity, collaboration, and team communication. I have broken down my learnings into 14 work strategies to excel in your daily tasks while safeguarding work-life balance.

Alongside explanations and strategies, I'll also be sharing a free template on working effectively and efficiently to help you integrate these learnings into your routine.

Before jumping to the strategies; let’s go over the actual meaning of working effectively and efficiently.

Working efficiently and effectively, What is the difference?

Many people use efficiency and effectiveness interchangeably. Before jumping into strategies to optimize them, you must understand the difference:

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 an update report. If you suddenly manage to prepare the same report in 3 hours then you have increased your efficiency.
Working effectively focuses on the ability for the outcome to reach its goal. For example, think of two employees working in sales. Both have the same workload and perform the same tasks, but one outperforms the other by 20%. We can then conclude that the employee with higher performance is more effective.

In a nutshell, efficiency is about resource usage, while effectiveness is about the success of the output. Most jobs require a balance between speed (efficiency) and quality (effectiveness) when looking at work performance and output.

“Efficiency is concerned with doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” - Peter Drucker
Person working effectively and efficiently in a cafe

Simply racing through tasks (efficiency) often leads to low-quality output that misses targets. Thus, striking the right balance between effectiveness and efficiency is a must.

Now that you know the difference You might wonder: What should I start doing to be more effective and efficient?

Well, I'll share 14 work strategies and an actionable template so you can level up your work performance consistently.

How to work effectively and efficiently: 14 strategies

Some work strategies focus on efficiency, others on effectiveness and some tackle both. To keep things organized, I'll separate strategies on the performance metric tackled: effectiveness, efficiency, or both at the same time.

4 work strategies to maximize your efficiency

Throughout the years I have been able to maximize my efficiency when completing my weekly responsibilities. These are the main 4 strategies that help me maximize the amount of work done throughout my working hours.

  • 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. Executives spend nearly 23 hours in meetings, up from <10 hours in the 1960s.

If you can reduce the number of meetings you sit through while still making key decisions and moving forward with projects, then your efficiency is guaranteed to improve. We have an async-first culture at Rock so we've always tried to keep meetings at a bare minimum. As a result, I typically have between 2 to 5 meetings every week.

Cutting down on meeting time doesn't apply to conversations that actually matter, but it might help you avoid meetings that could have been an email. Curious how to fill the gap?

  • Documentation: Fewer instructional or last-minute meetings are needed if people can easily find the information they need.
  • Asynchronous work: Set up work in such a way that people can finish their tasks without being too dependent on direct responses.
  • Task management: Organize priorities with task management to structure the work that has to be done and swiftly move across different responsibilities.

Note that meetings do not need to disappear altogether. Instead, follow our virtual meetings best practices and make sure to communicate efficiently while documenting enough information so your team does not depend on lengthy meetings to be informed on what to do.

How to Cancel a Meeting: Roadmap to Guilt-Free Cancellations
Time shouldn’t be wasted – be it yours or anyone else’s. In an ideal world, every meeting in your working schedule is effective and value-adding. However, that’s often just not the case.
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2. Set up a working routine

A routine helps me make efficient use of my time. Implementing structure to the day gives a sense of control and helps improve productivity. Routines also help with removing guilt for unproductive moments so creating one is a must if you want to be more efficient.

Figuring out at what time of day you are most productive and sticking with it helps. When? Chances are you know best. I work with 2-hour "deep work" time slots that I organize throughout the day. I often put in a longer break during lunchtime to go to the gym and then add some extra time in the evening to get the most out of my day.

Whether you're looking for a productive morning routine or want to get work done at night, build a working routine that allows you to tackle tasks consistently.

Routines are there to make our lives easier, as they eliminate constant decision-making and, with that, decision fatigue. Establish new routines by combining the useful with the enjoyable. Petra Zink - Forbes Business Council

Your team must understand the value of flexible and asynchronous work for this to succeed. If a company is strict on working hours or locations, some people likely get left out, which will hurt team efficiency in the long run.

Try to stick to your routine, after all, it takes on average 66 days for behavioral changes to become a habit.

The best way to promote a routine is to gamify the activities and provide small rewards and recognition for those who stick to the routine. - John Knotts - Forbes Business Council
being effective with a good morning routine calm morning

3. Stick to your deadlines

Time and resources are wasted when you don't define timeframes for tasks. Deadlines are a key component in project management strategies to assess your workload and make sure resources aren’t wasted.

Keep in mind that deadlines should not become a roadblock that hinders the effectiveness of a task. Doing something faster (efficiency) is not worth it if that outcome does not fulfill its goal (effectiveness).

Use sprints or configure start and due dates for your tasks with Rock: All-in-one task management, messaging, note-taking, files and meetings in one place.

Implementing reasonable deadlines also boosts motivation as it enables you to say no to new work and making your deadlines before their due date

Discuss reprioritizing your to-do list if you notice that your work is dropping in quality (effectiveness) when sticking to a deadline. Getting assistance from other team members, outsourcing the task, and moving a deadline back are all possible solutions to this problem.

how to work effectively and efficiently with deadlines illustration of project management workflow

4. Use asynchronous video sharing

Asynchronous video sharing is a great way to scale explanations or explain things without jumping into a meeting. At Rock, I have used asynchronous videos for a bunch of onboarding activities. A pre-recorded video teaches our new hires important information, they can watch it back as many times as they want, and it prevents me from having to schedule a meeting every time someone new is hired.

This strategy is best tailored for one-sided conversations such as presentations, onboardings, or tutorials. Allow people to pause, watch back, and take more effective notes.

Organize all your asynchronous videos in one place with a task board: Get started with Rock to organize your communication and collaboration in one place.

Loom is a tool specifically created to help you record these async videos. After sharing a link, team members can leave comments at different time stamps or respond with a custom emoji in-video.

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 every onboarding over the next few months instead of planning a walk-through meeting (we have a recording for you if you need an in-depth Rock walkthrough)

Loom integration in app to help people in being effective

4 work strategies you can implement to maximize the effectiveness of your team

We previously discussed how effectiveness focuses on delivering high-quality output. Here are 4 strategies for effective communication and work that I have implemented in my daily routines.

  • Use meeting agendas
  • Create a weekly to-do list
  • Prioritize the most impactful tasks
  • Connect with your team

1. Use meeting agendas

Structure is essential in meetings. We don't typically meet if there is no agenda, and require team members to share one well in advance. I previously discussed in best practices for meetings how a meeting agenda is crucial to collaborate effectively and get the most out of your meeting time.

Sharing a meeting agenda ensures that the correct team members are present and allows people to be informed on action items and important information before actually getting together. Overall this saves you valuable time and helps shorten the meeting significantly.

Meeting agendas should be sent out to all attendees at least 24-48 hours in advance so everyone has enough time to go over the information. 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 team members digest before getting together? Make sure to share in advance so you can avoid reading information and have a more in-depth discussion on the material.
  • Discussion topics: What should be discussed in the meeting? This can include brainstorming or 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.

Meeting Agenda Examples + How to Write Your Own
Meeting agendas provide the structure that’s essential to a well-run meeting.
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2. A weekly to-do list helps with being effective

I struggle to work effectively when my thoughts and to-do's are scattered all over the place. Lack of clarity in to-dos just leads to context switching and excessive multi-tasking, ultimately tanking your actual productivity and effectiveness in completing tasks. A lack of organization leaves most people stressed and unable to work on what's most impactful.

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.

Weekly to-do lists can take a lot of forms. Some people write notes by hand, use simple Excel, or have a dedicated task management app. I use the "Set Aside" function in Rock to manage most of my to-dos, but some team members manage it differently and are still able to work effectively.

I have spoken with many team members internally to see how they manage their to-dos, so here are possible ways to manage a weekly to do list template:

  • 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.
Manage your weekly to-dos in one place with Rock: Work with the task board, "my tasks" panel, configure sprints or move tasks, notes messages into the "Set Aside" panel to stay effective.
To do list example for people working efficiently and effectively

3. Prioritize the most impactful tasks

If you’re still left thinking - what should I start doing to collaborate effectively and get work done? A simple takeaway would be to prioritize tasks. Prioritization allows you to make the most of your time at work.

Being effective starts with your to-do list. Instead of cluttering up your list with low-impact tasks that overwhelm you, focus on tasks that drive value first. Start your day by selecting the tasks that are important and urgent, in line with previously discussed deadlines.

Effectiveness is not just about how much effort we put in, but where we put that effort. Effectiveness is about doing the right task, not just about doing the task right." - James Clear, author of "Atomic Habits"

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.

Alongside urgency, focus on tasks that are important to your long-term goals. If a task is neither urgent nor important, drop it or delegate it.

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.

Communication goes beyond your close circle. You should extend it to other departments to optimize team members’ effectiveness. This way, the process of improving cross departmental collaboration and cross functional collaboration is naturally incorporated into your workday.

Collaborate effectively by building an environment that is engaging and open. Here are some communication strategies to implement if you want to connect with your team:

  • Trust: Trust is key to working 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. Welcoming constructive criticism ensures that work relationships and output are optimized. Or if there are issues, they can be discussed and promptly resolved.
  • Recognition: Everyone should feel valued and receive the recognition they deserve. Team members feel more compelled to deliver valuable output if it’s recognized and celebrated by other team members.

6 Work Strategies to implement if you want to work effectively and efficiently

now that we've covered them individually, it’s time to look into some strategies that combine working effectively and efficiently with others at the same time.

  • 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

Forget about effectiveness and efficiency if rest isn’t in your vocabulary. While it might seem counterintuitive, adequate rest is key to preventing burnout.

Like many others, I've been victim to thinking that more hours equals more and better output. And while that might be the case for some time, it will most likely come crashing down at some point.

Our brains are like a muscle. Without rest periods between workouts, it becomes fatigued and you increase the risk of injury. Staying well-rested is essential to maintain concentration, motivation, and ability to solve problems.

Make sure that everyone is well-rested and takes enough rest to avoid a toxic work culture. Introduce check-in questions for meetings and keep an eye on types of communication styles in your team to spot issues before they arise.

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 make a big difference for your productivity and health.

2. Set asynchronous work as your default

What’s the best way to work if you're looking to get effective and efficient output? We advocate for asynchronous work as a collaboration default state. This methodology does not require all team members to be online at the same time, providing our whole team with more flexibility.

Employees can focus on their efficiency and effectiveness without waiting for others to finish tasks. Think of daily collaboration like a relay race instead of a sprint. Team members can pick up a task from another one without needing to wait for an “okay.”

Rock was built from the ground up to help teams implement asynchronous work and make day-to-day collaboration and communication more effective and efficient.

There is no need for constant check-ins, meetings, and consistent messaging that interrupts your daily work. Team members can stay organized at work without relying on others. Asynchronous work allows you to choose work faster and set a schedule that maximizes your productivity.

You get the freedom to start your day according to your needs when everyone doesn't have to be online at the same time throughout the workday. Some overlap is a must, but it shouldn't encompass 100% of your workday.

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 output. 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 are some of the most commonly applied frameworks. Despite their differences, both have been adopted by major companies for their proven success. For example, companies like Apple and IBM use Agile due to its demonstrated effectiveness.

When choosing a framework, consider your team's needs, project requirements, and organizational culture. By selecting the most suitable approach, you can optimize productivity and ensure a smooth project execution.

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 task 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. You can track how long you spend on different activities, and find back past activities without searching across folders or docs.

Here are a few features within task management that can help you with managing your workload.

  • 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.
Rock is an all-in-one task management tool that includes feature-rich task cards and multiple views so you have complete flexibility in how you organize your projects.
Task management board for work strategies

5. Leverage documentation

A core component of working effectively and efficiently is documentation. Store past activities and information and make them 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 can access important information without searching for too long or reaching out to one or more 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 native integrations 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.

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, here's why:

  • Efficiency is reduced because people have to switch between platforms to find information or get work done. This all takes away time which could have been spent in more productive ways.
  • Teams become less effective because coworkers don't work with all the resources they need to provide valuable output. Tasks will be less complete when done without all the needed documentation.
Rock combines messaging with tasks and your favorite apps so you can focus on maximizing effective and efficient work: avoid switching between a separate messaging and task management platform to get work done.
All in one tool for effectiveness and efficiency Rock

Work Efficiently and Effectively with Rock

Ready to implement one or more of the strategies given throughout? Get started with this free template and check off every new strategy once you've implemented it.

Use the chat to discuss different strategies, add your own, and bring your work output to the next level.

Rock can become a powerful tool for your team if you want to optimize your effectiveness and efficiency. From a weekly to-do list to asynchronous work in general, there is functionality built from the ground up to cover it all. Sign up for free and try it out.

Sign up for free to Rock to manage all your communication and collaboration in one place.

I hope this article was able to add valuable insights if you were wondering how to work effectively and efficiently with your team. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Youtube and don’t forget to share the article and tag us!

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