Making your job easier

It’s important to have fully adjustable equipment and furniture to ensure your comfort at work.  It’s also important to have good posture, take rest breaks, and vary your work tasks during the day.  These are the cornerstones of good ergonomics.  But what about digging a little deeper into the science of ergonomics to see if you can make your workday more efficient?

Ergonomic consultants perform a task analysis when they conduct basic ergonomic evaluations.  They look at each task the worker performs and identify risks factors that cause ergonomic injury.  If they were asked to take the process a step further with the intent of streamlining inefficiencies, they would use organizational ergonomics and perform a detailed task analysis.  This involves breaking down the tasks into very small tasks and for each one of these, listing the actions, decisions, information, and stimuli that would be required.  They would then take this information and analyse it to come up with new processes for the company to adopt.

This is a very involved process that requires much research and analysing, but you can perform a simplified version in your own workplace and enjoy the benefits of a more efficient day.  First off, you would list out all the tasks you do in a day and then take those tasks and break them down further.  Look at these tasks closely.  Is there a lot of repetition in your tasks?  Are there tasks that could be combined?  Do you need to do everything that you are doing?  Can you cut down on the intensity of some tasks?

Here are some examples of how tasks could be changed:

  • Do you write a lot of reports or letters?  Do you find yourself retyping the same sentences or phrases on each report or letter?  If so, make up a skeleton report or letter.  Put the sentences and phrases you use a lot in the skeleton and the next time you go to write a report or letter, use the skeleton and pick and choose which sentences and phrases to use.
  • Take a look at the software you’re using.  Are you aware of all the features it has?  Are you using all the features that would help you?  Do a search on the internet for “cheat sheets” along with the name of your software program.  Aim to master a new feature each day.
  • Make sure you do a quick agenda for every meeting you hold.  List items to be discussed and the time for each.  This will help you stay on track and cut down on wasted time.
  • Are there numbers you can memorize to cut down on time?  For example, a grocery cashier will check out a customer much faster when they have the produce numbers memorized.
  • Plan ahead for what you need.  If you need to go to the printer to retrieve your document, get the mail then too.
  • Keep fully stocked.  If you are a repair person, keep everything you need in your truck and on your tool belt.  If you are a teacher, make sure you have all your supplies stocked at the beginning of the day so you don’t rush around during class time.
  • Do you need to do every task?  Do the trash and recycling cans need to be emptied twice a day?  Could it be done once a day?
  • Does the task have to be as intense as it is?  Are paper copies really necessary or will an email do?  Are three coats of paint necessary or will two do?

Tasks can be modified in any profession and in any capacity.  Only you know your job as well as you do.  Take a good look, identify the things that can be changed, and then sit back and enjoy your efforts.

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