Workplace Efficiency: Small Time Savers to Help with the Big Picture

During any given day, there are a great number of things to accomplish. From day to day tasks which keep the company cogs running smoothly, to large and small projects which will benefit the company in the long-run – it’s difficult to pack in everything that needs attention. Time is a precious commodity in the workplace, so here are a few small ideas that might have a larger time-saving impact.

Make email efficient. When you read an email, make a decision about how to deal with it right away. If it needs to be put aside, make sure the task of answering it goes onto your task list. If you’re able to answer in a few lines, do so. Amanda Green writes on Women’sHealth.com that it takes one minute to process the content of an email once you’ve opened it. That means, if you’re having a difficult time responding to an e-mail and you come back to it five or six times throughout the day, you’ve lost nearly six minutes. Multiply this by the large number of emails that you receive throughout the day, and it’s easy to see how this is a time waster.

If you can, don’t open your email. The most productive few hours of most people’s day are the first few hours after they arrive. Checking your email first thing in the morning is nearly always a recipe for distraction. If you’re able, don’t open your email for the first hour of the day. All the messages will still be there when you open it at 9 a.m., and if someone needs you urgently first thing in the morning, they can come find you in person or give you a phone call. If you make this a standard for yourself, you’ll find that this first hour might be the most productive and enjoyable you have all day.

Set a standard of prompt meetings. So much time can be saved throughout the day when meetings begin and end on time, and most likely the meeting will be more productive, too. If you find you could go over the time you’ve already allotted, have someone take down parking lot items for later discussion and follow-up the meeting by scheduling another session. Require that employees be on time to meetings so that you don’t spend any time explaining the first few points over again.

Add an inbox. Amanda Green also suggests using your inbox as it was meant to be used. If you don’t have a dedicated space for people to drop materials into, you’re probably being interrupted by turning around to accept things from people. Place an inbox in an easily accessible place and don’t let the movement of someone leaving something distract you. The purpose of the inbox is so that you don’t have to be interrupted by a quick drop off, so you should set the standard that you won’t be. You might find that you save a few minutes each day by not stopping to say “Hi,” and “Thanks,” and then needing to find your place again.

Small changes can equal big efficiency improvements, not only for you as an employee, but for the company as a whole. Try some of these tips and see if they work for you.

Do you think some of these small time savers could be introduced into your work routine? Let us know in the comments.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by krossbow