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7 ways to be more effective at work

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

Being efficient at work is essential, but to rise above the rest one needs to be 'effective' as well.

Effectiveness is what helps focus the mind, execute tasks perfectly and be perceived as a winner. The combination of these three is what makes one a success.

Here are 7 tips to help you be 'effective' at your job and rise above the ranks.

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Harnoor Channi-Tiwary is the founder of Journey My Way (, a personalised travel advisory firm.

1: Honour the clock

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

If office starts at 9 am, people usually start walking in around 9.30 am. They may justify this by saying that they stay late at work to compensate, but this vicious cycle is the perfect recipe for work-home imbalance.

Respect for time is highly valued by an organisation. Punctuality gains respect at work.

Reaching work early has added benefits. The peace and calm of an empty office is the perfect environment to align one's thoughts and get the day organised. Make this your routine. You will realise that this is the most productive hour of your day without anyone to disturb you or engage your time.

Anuj Khurana, Co-Founder, suggests, "Start your day an hour before your colleagues. You will find that it is easier to manage the day's chaos when you ease into it as against starting out when the chaos of emails, phone calls, meetings, fires to put out has already taken hold".

It is also important to respect other people's time. This entails reaching on time (or 10 minutes earlier) for meetings, ending meetings at the scheduled hour and not impinging on the time of your juniors by giving them work to complete after office hours/ at home.

2: To-do or not to-do

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

The best way to start your day is to make a to-do list. List out all the tasks, big or small that need to be completed during your work day.

Now prioritize them with stars or ranks in order of importance or deadlines.

Surbhi Seth always believed in lists but only recently realised how crucial they are while setting up her restaurant franchise of US Pizza in Aurangabad.

She recounts "I've maintained a to-do list as far back as I remember. I think the habit stuck because it makes life easy. No more 'Oh, I forgot!' Lists act as reminders as well as motivators. However, you have to be prepared for the fact that while crossing off the list certainly gives you a kick, a task list is actually never-ending."

Not having a list may leave too many tasks open and not many completed. Apart from the sense of fulfilment you get when you cross out a 'to-do' item from the list, you will also realise that it helps you organise your day better and achieve more.

Think of it like a cupboard full of clothes. If the clothes are all thrown in, it may take you forever to sort through them and figure out which ones need to be laundered and/or ironed. But if they are arranged in neat piles, your life becomes so much more simple.

3: Set expectations

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

Half the game in successful project management is expectation setting. It is very important to set expectations at the onset in any relationship, and in particular, at the workplace.

If your boss expects a 20-slide deck and you only have time for 5 slides, walk in and discuss it with him/her. Ask for a time extension and give your reasons. It will be much more appreciated than a shoddy presentation sent in on time or a mail sent at the last minute asking for an extension.

New employees at an organisation may find that certain aspects of its work culture are not in sync with their personality.

Though a certain amount of flexibility is important, it is also best to discuss these issues at the very beginning with your superiors and find common grounds that help accomplish both your objectives.

When Hanu joined the central marketing team of a financial giant as a senior manager, she realised that people at her new office came in late and worked till very late.

"Instead of giving in to the pressure and adopting the same lifestyle, I walked into my boss's office on my second day at work and shared my discomfort. I assured him that I would be the first one in office and ensure all projects are delivered before the deadline but I would like to leave for home at 6 pm and not work weekends. Thankfully, he appreciated my candour and agreed, never once repenting his decision", she recounts.

4: Look the part

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

Image Consultant Vibhinta Verma puts it perfectly "If you don't look the part, your audience (boss, colleagues, client) may not take your viewpoint seriously. This is because studies have proven that all communication is 80 percent visual and 20 percent verbal. So the way you dress and carry yourself goes a long way in getting your message through".

If you want to be a CEO tomorrow, look the part today. A well groomed employee is always perceived as more sincere than a shabbily dressed one.

Your clothes should be appropriate to the environment you work in. Advertising firms allow denims and skirts whereas some management consultants are expected to be dressed in dark formal suits.

No matter what the dress code is, your clothes should be neat, clean and ironed.

5: Learn to say NO!

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

If sorry is the most difficult word to say in personal relationships, at work the word is 'no'.

In their chase for the top office, many people think that becoming a 'yes man' is a ticket to success. But smart managers and workers know that they are most productive when they learn to push back work.

In no way does this imply that you should not accept greater work challenges.

One should constantly seek to deliver more than their KRA (Key responsibility areas). But when the quantity of your work starts affecting the quality, do not be afraid to discuss your workload with your superiors and help distribute the same.

6: Orchestra not a solo performance

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

Business goals are achieved as a team not by individual effort alone. You may be a fantastic worker but your team's achievement is dependent on the weakest member not the strongest.

Each person has a unique set of talent. As a team manager or even a team player, one should always try to distribute work so as to assign appropriate tasks to people with competency in that area.

Whatever your leadership style, whether authoritarian, mentoring or symbiotic, it is very important to delegate clearly.

Each member of your team should know exactly what is expected of him. He should have the confidence to reach out to colleagues if he needs help but should also be clear that the ownership of the task lies with him.

Binwant Singh from Alchemist HR Solutions talks about boss management and leadership styles. "90 percent of attrition is because of the Boss Disease. The problem is not that he is a (he is just doing his job). The problem is our inability to handle the boss.

The key is to identify his values and aims, his strengths and weaknesses and his management style. Then work effectively to see that he looks good before others. The people who matter will soon see who is really behind his success. As for subordinates they will align to you when they see you align to him".

7: Visibility is the name of the game

Last updated on: June 21, 2012 17:56 IST

Whatever your levels of ambition, it is true for everyone that we like to be given due credit for what we have achieved.

Yet, many of us tend to continue performing but are not able to bring it out into the spotlight while a smooth talking colleague sometimes waltzes away with the credit.

To ensure visibility, make a checklist at the end of the month for your boss.

1. Enumerate what all tasks were completed in the month and what were the results achieved.
2. List out tasks in progress and their expected completion dates.
3. List out the expected tasks and projects likely to come up in the next month.

Email this checklist to your boss on the 30th of every month and also have a face-to-face discussion on the same so that both of you are on the same page.

Not only does this portray you as a proactive worker, it also helps your superior get a clear picture of what all you have achieved.

These monthly lists can be used as a ready reckoner for your appraisal at the end of the year. It will be useful historical data if you need to highlight your achievements in the past year.