There is a balance between “slow and steady wins the race” and “getting more done in less time.” Yes, there is a time to slow down, simplify, and enjoy the journey. The opposite is also true. In his book, The Age of Speed, Olympic speed skater Vince Poscente shares how to embrace speed, achieve greater efficiency, and get more done in less time. He also writes about 4 personality and organizational profiles.

Are you a zeppelin, a balloon, a bottle rocket, or a jet?

A zeppelin is the outdated blimp. The most famous is the Hindenberg, which exploded in 1937, killing 36 people. The blimp resists speed, is lumbering, and slothlike in pace. Zeppelins resist learning new technology and new ways of working smarter. They can’t fly fast enough or soar high enough in the age of crackberries.

Balloons float along, gradually getting closer to their destination like a hot air balloon. Poscente says balloons focus on ease, comfort, and give up some of their potential and opportunities. Most work environments require speed and therefore, balloons will likely fail.

Bottle rockets embrace speed. They are explosive and powerful. However they are short lived and have trouble staying focused over a long period of time. People and organizations like bottle rockets are fast moving, keeping up with the technology but never achieve anything of substance.

Jets embrace speed, are aerodynamic, and use speed as an ally to get quickly and efficiently to it’s destination. Even when there are storms in the way a jet can fly higher, lower, or wider to overcome the obstacle.

Here are 8 tips to increase efficiency from Laura Stack at Productivity Pro.

1. Use voice mail to increase efficiency.

If you need uninterrupted time to finish an important project, voice mail allows you to identify who’s calling and temporarily screen out less urgent calls.  If you’re in a hurry, leaving a voice mail message will let you avoid lengthy conversations punctuated by the usual social niceties.

2. Don’t wait on hold.

Purge a file while you’re at it.  While exercising on your treadmill, get through a current magazine or trade journal.  While waiting for reports to print out, book your next dentist appointment.  While commuting to work, listen to current business books on tape or just relax and enjoy the music.  Make use of your available downtime!

3. If someone is capable of performing a task 80% as well as you can, delegate it to them.

We often have the misperception that only we can do a task perfectly.  Delegate tasks that others could do efficiently at a lower cost to the company.  Give clear instructions, issue a deadline, and follow up.

4. Look at airplane trips and doctors visits as opportunities, rather than ordeals.

Rip out magazine articles and keep them in a “to be read” folder.  During visits and long trips, pull them out.  Or write articles, read the “heavy” books, or plan out your monthly goals.

5. Women, buy two of each of your favorite cosmetics (three if you travel frequently).

Keep one in your bathroom for your morning routine, one set stashed in your office for touchups (or in case you don’t have time to apply it at home), and one in your suitcase, always ready to go.  This will eliminate the time and hassle to transport makeup back and forward between these locations.

6. To avoid getting into a long, drawn-out conversation with Mr. Difficult or Ms. Chatty, call them during lunch.

Chances are, they will be out, and you can leave a short voice mail message.  Or call at the end of the day, when you know people are trying to get home and will be less likely to talk incessantly.

7. When you’re asked to attend a meeting, find out if your presence is really necessary.

Perhaps you could give your input in advance, in writing, or orally to a designated representative.  Or send someone in your place.  You’ll quickly eliminate unnecessary meetings and gain more control over your time.

8.  Log your time.

If you suspect you’re not using your time as efficiently as possible, use a time log to keep track of HOW you spend your day.  (Let me know if you need a sample form.)  Write down what you’re doing throughout the day and how long it takes—you may find that you’re wasting time in surprising ways.

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