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I Ain’t Wasting My Time On That; Sheet of Efficiency Tips

A blog and infographic offering a list of inefficiency-busting tips for today’s knowledge worker.

Getting up to speed. Transaction costs. The pick-up-put-down problem. In today’s workplace, they’re all terms that disguise the same thing – inefficiency.

For all the talk of always-on lifestyles, most people can only focus on one thing at a time – and most can only maintain that focus for 2-3 hours, max. Those people you see in your office constantly on the move, dashing from one meeting to another and holding four conversations at the same time may look busy… but looks can be deceptive.

The distraction of an email pinging in, the heads-up of a passing colleague, the insistent trill of a phone – all cause you to lose focus and push completion times into the future. That’s why most people are only productive a few hours a day even when they’re “working”.

A whole series of business books offer professional development advice on how to be more efficient. There’s Tim Ferriss’s “Four Hour Work Week” which demonstrates how a focus on 20% of your tasks cuts 80% of your workload. Or Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” which advises focused sessions without distraction. While Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto” aids organisational smarts by taking checklists into every work process. They’re good – but reading takes time. So, courtesy of virtual collaboration experts Arkadin, here’s a handy crib sheet of tips for using technology to increase your efficiency, not hobble it.

What efficiency looks like: 7 best Practices

  1. Drive out distraction.

Email, teleconferencing, and virtual collaboration are great – in the right place. But constant rings and pings interrupt your day. Set specific times for dealing with inbox and voicemail and stick to them. Better still, kill many birds with one stone at a daily video conference wrap-up.

  1. Batch together tasks.

If you do the same thing many times each month, make like Pokemon – devote ONE DAY to catch them ALL. Batching reduces the pick-up-put-down problem, saving time. Instead of 20 emails, why not make all those decisions with a single whiteboarding session?

  1. Magnify you Presence.

An underused tool of remote working is the Presence – that graphic next to your name that indicates whether you’re in or out. Use it to signal your availability, and “be present” only when needed. Tools like chat sessions can be made more efficient this way.

  1. Find your focus period.

How long can you concentrate on one task? For most people it’s 1.5-2 hours; for some, it’s just 30mins; some can go all day. However long yours is, find out, and divide the day into units of it. It’ll ensure each task is completed at your maximal efficiency. Why not use online collaboration to manage time?

  1. Set near-term goals.

Stretch goals are great, but by definition, they’re some way off. To keep yourself motivated, set mini-goals for an hour or day ahead. And give yourself a reward when you complete them. Chats with your team – perhaps with a five-minute conference call every day at 4pm – can keep you refreshed.

  1. Keep documents singular.

Emailing documents around risks them forking in a thousand directions. Instead, maintain a single document and let people collaborate on it with document sharing. It’ll keep your Single Version of the Truth, singular.

  1. Sleep with purpose.

Among the biggest efficiency-killers is a lack of sleep. So treat your trips to Nod with the same critical eye as you do your work calendar. 7-8 hours, every day, no exceptions, and your dreams of efficiency will become reality. Why not get an extra hour when you telecommute?

What does efficiency look like? It looks like Arkadin.

The right practices, if you can turn them into habits, can drive out the energy-sapping runarounds that plague business today… and put valuable hours back into your week. So why not try virtual collaboration instead of running to a meeting or a video conference instead of a flight? To become more efficient, all you need are the right tools. Ask Arkadin.


  • Efficiency comes from deliberate practice
  • Removing distractions lets you focus in short stretches
  • Online collaboration can put 2 hours back into your day
  • Nobody can be productive 24 hours a day
  • Own your time, don’t let your tasks own it

Discover how to foster those efficiency gains. Download our eguide “Seamless and Secure – How to Enable Digital Communication Among A Flexible Workforce” now.


About the author

Annemarie, leads and implements the HR strategy across northern Europe at Arkadin Collaboration Services. She is passionate about the role of unified communication in company communications and employee recruitment and retention.

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