How to Be Efficient at Work in 9 Steps (Plus Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

3 January 2022

Being efficient at work is often important as it helps you stay productive and complete job tasks. Many supervisors and employers prefer efficient employees, so becoming an efficient professional can help improve your career prospects. If you're struggling with your productivity at work, you might want to consider seeking advice on how to improve your performance. In this article, we explain the benefits efficiency can offer and share nine steps for you to follow to learn how to be efficient at work.

How to be efficient at work

If you want to learn how to be efficient at work, follow these simple steps:

1. Organise your workspace

Arrange your workspace so your supplies are well-stocked and your work area is tidy. Consider setting your workspace up in a way that helps you limit your movements while working. For example, if you take notes as you work, it's helpful to place your notepaper and pen in a place on your desk that you can reach easily instead of stretching. Having a tidy workstation can help you reduce stress and ensure that you don't spend time looking for supplies or moving around your workstation.

You might also want to take steps to improve your general work environment. Discover what decor might motivate you and include it in your office space. For example, if you feel more creative when surrounded by artwork, you could place small prints within view of your desk area. You can also request more comfortable work furniture if needed. For example, some professionals prefer standing desks or a certain type of office chair.

Related: What Is a Good Work Environment? (Plus Other FAQs)

2. Keep a calendar

Keeping a calendar can help you plan ahead and remember tasks to complete. You can download a calendar application on your mobile device or computer, so you can always have access to it. If you prefer a physical calendar, you might benefit from keeping a planner. Having a calendar can help you organise your schedule and remind you of deadlines and events.

It may be helpful to include details in your calendar, such as:

  • deadlines

  • job tasks

  • holidays and other days off work

  • details about outside materials to bring to work

  • social events

  • daily reminders

3. Make a to-do list

Making a to-do list can help you prioritise your tasks and remind you of your responsibilities. To make a to-do list, consider all the tasks that you may complete and then decide which of those tasks are most important. This can help you create an ordered list that allows you to see what you can accomplish that day. Consider making a physical to-do list, as you may feel a sense of accomplishment when you can cross a task off your list. You can also create a version on computer software, which can allow your list to be more portable.

To prioritise the tasks on your to-do list and make it more effective, consider which projects have a closer deadline. It's also helpful to consider if other professionals depend on you to finish a certain task. For example, to make a project operate more effectively, you may finish designing a logo for a product before the marketing team can include it in their content.

4. Manage your workload

Manage your workload by dividing it into smaller portions. This may help you perceive the tasks to be more manageable, which can encourage you to complete them more quickly. For example, if one of your tasks is to write a report, you may first create an outline for the document. Dividing your tasks into simple steps can help you feel more motivated to finish them. This practice can also help you organise your work and return to it easily if you're separating your work between two different days or times.

Related: How to Manage Time (With 23 Time Management Tips and Advice)

5. Minimise distractions

While working, try to minimise distractions. Consider the work environments in which you feel most productive. For example, if you work best in quiet environments, consider seeking an enclosed office space, if possible. It's also beneficial to remove personal distractions, such as your mobile device. Creating an environment and routine that allows you to focus on your work can help you work more efficiently and increase your productivity.

If you realise your colleagues may distract you with a conversation, consider establishing a public schedule to specify a time during which you're open to communicating. Then, you can create times throughout your day to dedicate to complete focus.

6. Delegate tasks

If possible, delegate tasks that don't fit in your schedule. You can do this by requesting a colleague's help or asking your supervisor to reassign the task. Delegating tasks you don't feel capable of completing can help reduce possible work-related stress. It can also ensure that the right person completes the task. To know when you might want to delegate a task, examine your to-do list and predict how long each task may take. If it exceeds what you can reasonably handle for a workday, consider asking for help.

It's often best to delegate a task quickly after you realise you might not be able to complete it. This allows your colleague to complete it within its original deadline.

7. Take breaks

Take small breaks throughout your workday to handle personal tasks and relax. Taking short breaks can help you refresh your mind and allow you to feel more invested in your work. If you work in an office setting or complete most of your tasks sitting down, it may be helpful to walk around to exercise and find a change of scenery. You might also use breaks to eat a snack or take a drink.

Consult the employee handbook to gain clarity on the company's break policy. Many companies provide breaks throughout the day, but the amount of time may vary.

Related: How to Work Hard: 10 Tips and Strategies for Success

8. Keep professional relationships

It's important to keep professional relationships at work, as healthy relationships with your colleagues can help you work more efficiently. Set boundaries regarding the personal information you share and your time, as this can help you maintain a professional relationship. While it's often a great practice to attend social functions for work and converse with your colleagues during break periods, you might want to limit your socialising periods when working, as this allows you to focus.

If an issue arises with a colleague, it's important to involve mediation as soon as possible to ensure you can continue to work efficiently. Often, human resource professionals can help mediate an issue between two colleagues, which can reduce your stress related to the matter.

Related: What Is Conflict Resolution? (With Methods and Examples)

9. Make lifestyle changes

If needed, consider making lifestyle changes to help you become more efficient at work. These lifestyle changes can include your diet, sleep schedule and personal activities. For example, sleeping a healthy number of hours can help you go to work energised and ready to complete your daily job tasks in a timely manner. It's important to sleep well and eat healthy, so you can feel your best.

You may also find that you have habits that distract you from working. For example, if you like to travel and spend time at work researching vacation locations, it may affect your productivity. Instead, try to separate your work-life and personal life. This can help you feel more satisfied in each part of your life.

Benefits of being efficient at work

Becoming a more efficient professional can help you in a variety of ways, including:

Increases productivity

If you're working efficiently, you're often more likely to complete your tasks on time. This can help increase your productivity. Having a high level of productivity usually reflects positively on you during performance reviews. Because of this, an increase in productivity and efficiency can help you earn career advancement opportunities and pay raises.

Related: 8 Positive Feedback Examples for Employee Performance

Improves mood

Being more efficient at work can also help improve your mood. This is because completing your tasks in a timely manner might help you reduce work-related stress, which improves your mood. Professionals who have positive moods can often find more motivation to complete their work tasks. This allows you to complete high-quality work while maintaining productivity.

Shortens workday

If you work on a quota basis or have flexibility in your work, you may shorten your workday by working efficiently. For example, if you work in a restaurant, you may finish closing for the night and go home earlier if you complete your tasks at a quicker rate. This may allow you more personal time and can help you keep a better work-life balance.