There are professionals in every office who radiate efficiency. It’s most apparent in the way they run meetings: starting on the clock (even if some people aren’t there), quickly summarizing the agenda items, and then passing the baton to the first speaker.
We all want to know how they do it, right? Here are some of their secrets.
1. They delegate
Delegation is key. If there’s a person working with you who can get exposure or valuable experience by taking on a task, give it to them. If there’s an administrative task you can hand to an intern, share it with them. If there’s a personal errand you have to run, pass it off to a remote hourly assistant (hiring one can be surprisingly affordable!).
Effective delegation lets one focus on the projects where they can add the most value. Plus, since they’re not distracted by other priorities, their overall quality of work is higher.
Want to learn this skill for yourself? For one week, don’t change anything about how you work. Write down every task you complete and how long it takes you. Then go through your list and identify the items you could’ve delegated.
Do the same exercise the next week—except this time, try to delegate more. After a month or two, you should be a master of delegation.
2. They set deadlines
Nothing puts you in the zone like a deadline, which efficient people certainly use to their advantage. Remember how quickly you could suddenly write in college when your paper was due in five hours?
According to the experts, everything you work on should have a deadline—whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Putting together a presentation? Give yourself one hour to create the slides. Preparing for a meeting? Tell yourself you need to be done in 30 minutes.
If you’re working on a multi-day, week, or month project, figure out which milestones you want to reach by what time. Not only does this ensure that you stay on track, but it also makes bigger projects feel less overwhelming.
3. They say no
Saying no is hard. At work, it’s especially difficult. You may feel like you’re obligated to tell your coworkers, boss, and reports “yes”—isn’t that your job?
Nope. Counterintuitively, your job hinges on saying no. You can’t do it all—which means you’ll often have to reject requests for your time, resources, or approval.
To know what gets the green light and what doesn’t, ask yourself, “Does this fall into my core responsibilities? Can I finish this to the best of my ability while also getting everything else done in time? If not, is this more important than my current tasks?”
These questions will hopefully reveal the right answer.