A factory worker who learns to produce more units in less time; a secretary who is able to juggle his or her boss’s busy schedule; a sales manager who increases sales by 10 percent, are just a few examples of efficient professionals. Put simply, being efficient means producing results with little wasted effort. The better the results obtained, the more efficient the professional. The sum of these individual performances is what enables a company to achieve high all-around performance.

It is always possible to strengthen the numerous factors that have an impact on personal efficiency. Being efficient in the workplace hinges more on an individual’s ability and work ethic than it does on the company he or she works for or its management. Most importantly, individuals can enhance their efficiency by following a few simple steps.

The main factors in determining personal efficiency are: responsibility, capability, self-motivation, self-management, luck and simplification. Responsibility, capability, self-motivation and simplification are largely shaped by an individual’s own attitudes and actions. Individuals can improve their performances by developing concrete behaviors associated with these efficiency variables.

Any professional can affect the performance of these variables – with the obvious exception of luck. Luck, though often overlooked in the study of management is, admittedly, an important factor in an individual’s performance. It is possible, for instance, to achieve good results despite following the wrong course of action, or, conversely, to perform badly despite doing everything right, for reasons beyond anyone’s control. However, luck has its limits. Although many subscribe to the idea that “you make your own luck,” the reality is that individuals can do very little to influence how much luck they enjoy. Instead, they should disregard or pay little heed to the role of luck in their career development. Rather individuals should focus on those factors over which they have more direct control.

Take responsibility, for example. To be a successful professional first requires embracing personal responsibility. If you refuse to take charge of your own performance, nobody will do it for you, and you will almost certainly underachieve. This requires that you set and fulfill relevant, realistic goals; show effort and tenacity; be proactive and not fall to pieces at the first sign of defeat. As personal responsibility cannot be delegated, this is what really drives efficiency. Personal responsibility provides individuals with the means to take on the commitments and duties associated with their positions.

Capability determines to what extent individuals possess the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill their tasks and achieve their objectives. To improve your capabilities, you must perform tasks within the scope of your abilities, while also making a concerted effort to hone and develop the skills necessary for such tasks.

Being efficient then requires not only knowing how to do your job, but also actually wanting to do it – being self-motivated. To boost your self-motivation, eliminate or minimize demotivating influences at work, while also setting challenging and demanding goals for yourself.

Simplification involves doing tasks the simplest way possible. In fact, simplification has a multiplying effect on efficiency, as it enables the worker to achieve better results with fewer resources. Making tasks simpler, learning to prioritize and being able to focus on what is important are key aspects of the art of simplification.

Self-management makes doing other things possible. However, individuals’ ability to self-manage ultimately depends on managers apart from themselves. Even though individuals can try to steer working conditions in certain directions, their ability to manage themselves depends greatly on the organizational framework they must work within. For that reason, companies must try to provide individuals with appropriate organizational conditions for performing efficiently. If individuals are not granted the freedom to act on their own initiative and manage their own projects, then they will face little choice but to struggle to secure a higher margin of self-management, or else join another company that is more willing to place its trust in them.

Remember, it’s not about magic formulas: it’s merely a question of professionals putting into practice simple – albeit not easy – techniques and approaches that are certain to boost their personal efficiency.

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