Time Management: Quality Vs. Quantity

We’ve all been asked this job interview question:  “What’s more important,

balancing quality or quantity
Quality or Quantity?

quality or quantity?”  It seems like a no brainer, quality is definitely more important, right?

In reality, doing everything perfectly while taking twice as long as everyone else is a guaranteed, one-way ticket to unemployment.  Quality is number one, but efficiency is also very important.  The key is to increase your efficiency while maintaining that high standard of quality in everything you do.

The time of day can definitely affect the quality of our work.  Some of us are “Morning People” while others are “Night Owls.”  Determine your optimum time of day and tackle the hardest tasks when you’re at your prime.  If you function best between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, then that’s when you should be working on the most challenging items on your To Do List.  Don’t waste your prime time hours on menial tasks – work while you’re “in the zone” and listen to your body’s natural rhythms.

Beware of Multitasking.  It is deceptive!  Many people (especially us females) pride themselves in their ability to multi-task.  We think that by combining your conference call with cleaning out your desk drawer and filing last week’s payroll you are actually getting ahead.   In reality, multitasking can pull your focus away from what is important.  Tasks bleed into one another and quality suffers when you are trying to do three things at once.  .Picture yourself working on a Sudoko puzzle while chatting with your mom on the phone.  “What’s for dinner tonight?” your mom asks.  “Four…” you respond absently.  Now mom is angry, your family is hungry, and you’ve written “Tacos” in the box where the four was supposed to go.

Another way to increase the quality and quantity of your work is to Take a Break.  There is a reason we take breaks, and it’s not just to chat with your co-worker or flirt with the UPS guy.  Ideally you should be taking a 3-5 minute break every 45 minutes.  Remember, a break doesn’t mean staying at your desk surfing the internet.  It means getting up and moving around.  Walk to the coffee room.  Go outside and get some fresh air.  Stretch your muscles.  Have a snack.  Rest your eyes (no, that doesn’t mean a nap in the back of the warehouse!)  You will return to work energized and able to produce higher quality output.

Finally, take the time you need to do a quality job.  To borrow from that infamous tortoise:  “Slow and steady wins the race.”  No one can argue that it takes longer to fix a mistake than it does to do the job right the first time.  Rushing through a job is a recipe for disaster and can eat up valuable chunks of your time.

Part 5:  Time Management:  Schedule for Success

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