“How can I be more effective?” and “How can I get better at X?” are questions I get asked from time-to-time.
I’ve at least somewhat addressed the first question before, and now it’s time to visit the second.
Let’s say you want to be more effective at your job, either in whole (e.g., “be a better marketer”) or in part (e.g., “write better web content”), and that your job involves producing content (e.g., infosheets/datasheets, web content, videos, whitepapers, technology documents, presentations, emails, etc.).
Over the years, I’ve settled on a three-part strategy to improve effectiveness.
- More: do more stuff
- Faster: do stuff faster
- Better: do stuff better
Yep, that’s how I answer the question in person (and yes, I realize that I have “do stuff better” as an answer to “How do I get better?”…humour me). Each strategy is so simple as to be almost uselessly obvious, but executing on each requires devotion and an appreciation of certain nuances.
To be maximally effective requires skills, and practice is how you acquire and extend those requisite skills.
So, you’re going to need opportunities to practice.
Now, you can sit around and wait for projects to land on your desk; or, if you want to speed up your progress and skill development, then you can do more: you should request, look for, and create more opportunities and projects.
But it isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, so here’s a deeper examination of how you can do “More”.
I had a convo a few years ago with a young colleague who wanted to know some of my techniques for being maximally effective. One of them caught him by surprise for its simplicity and obviousness: work faster.
I explained that when I have a project, my mindset is to attack it, to blast through it, to get it done with the necessary quality in the shortest amount of time possible. This approach can work wonders in the workplace: you can dawdle and let a task take as long as you want to give/waste, to fill your day, or you can blast through it and move onto something else.
By training yourself to work faster, you’ll get the most out of any and all available time. Combining “More” with “Faster” is a powerful multiplier that sets you up to get “Better”.
Of course, there are techniques and tactics that can help you work faster, and I look at those in this post.
“Better” is what it’s all about, ultimately: doing your job more effectively, so you can make the biggest possible positive impact.
“More” gets you practice, and “Faster” makes the best use of your time, so that you can now focus on improving the end output.
By ‘automating’ many of the tasks and steps associated with producing something, your intellectual energy can now be applied almost exclusively towards improving the quality of your output, without sacrificing quantity.
What makes something ‘better’ varies depending upon the thing you’re actually producing, and I look at some of the key characteristics in this post.