Wisdom//

To Become More Efficient, Ask Better Questions

Ask about what you don't know, and question what you do.

StepanPopov / Shutterstock
StepanPopov / Shutterstock

Personal efficiency is about being productive with less effort.

Eugene Ionesco once said, “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” To improve your personal efficiency, never stop questioning how you work — it can lead to some of your best work. It’s the best way to keep improving and making the most of your time and resources.

You don’t learn unless you question. Asking the right questions can be an extremely powerful way to take big leaps forward and achieve your goals.

Should you be doing that task that takes you five hours a week, or should you automate it, delegate it, or just stop doing it in favour of something else that gets you to your goal with less effort?

Many things we do daily can be improved or done better if we question the time and energy we spend on them weekly. What is the weakest link in your time management system?

You can measure the many activities you do weekly or month that could be done better, expedited, or done at a different time of the day to improve your efficiency — things that, when you ask yourself Is there a better way to do this?, your answer should be, There has to be.

Better questions like — what specific outcomes do I want more of?, Am I working too long or too short of a time for certain tasks?, Am I trying to be more effective (i.e., doing the right things) or more efficient (i.e., doing things right)? When do I have the most energy? or What 1–3 things would I like to have done (today, this week, this month, this quarter, this year), can help you distribute your time and energy on important tasks at the right time.

The best productivity hacks are in the questions you are not asking

Questions about your previous week can be an effective way to reflect on what didn’t go as planned and dissect the lessons, insights and required actions and steps you need to take this week to get the results you want

Insightful questions can help you find a different perspective or angle about a problem or an invaluable insight into the next step you need to take to accomplish your goals.

Questions trigger ideas, solutions and results. Some of the most productive people are better at asking exceptional questions that challenge their routines and work practices. They are insanely good at asking questions.

What specific actions led to your biggest achievements last week? Can you repeat them this week? What seems to interrupt you every day?What distracted you the most yesterday? What were the intentions you set last week? Which of them did you get done? And why?

Once you have discovered the repeating patterns of your work, interruptions, distractions, and “focus” times, you can start making some changes.

“It is extremely crucial to get clear on the reasons for missing a goal or neglecting an intention because the key to being better next week hides in the WHY. Once you know what kept you from meeting your goals, you can change your approach the next week,” says Liz Hubber, Mindset & Productivity Coach.

The right and insightful questions can help you reflect on everything you are doing right and what you should stop doing going forward.

In his book, A More Beautiful Question Warren Berger stresses the importance of asking thoughtful, ambitious “beautiful questions” to spark breakthrough ideas and solutions. He shares how questioning can help us solve problems and work through difficult challenges in our daily lives. “Questions challenge authority and disrupt established structures, processes, and systems, forcing people to have to at least think about doing something differently, ” he writes.

If you want a better approach to improving your productivity, you should be focusing on getting to the path of inquiry. The best productivity tricks, tips and routines you seek are in those leading questions you are not asking. Get others involved if you have to — ask for feedback and advice.

Use the questioning approach to eliminate unnecessary tasks, optimise your productivity process and automate some of your tasks.

Questioning is like breathing — it’s something that seems so basic, so instinctive, that we take it for granted. But there’s a lot we can all learn about how to question, and really do it well to get the answers we seek.

Improve your questions and you will improve how you work! With the right questions, at the right time, you can supercharge your productivity.

There are are no right answers. But there are definitely better questions. Don’t just focus on questions that will validate your own assumptions. Whatever you do, stay on the path of inquiry for a more compelling answer to your problems — ultimately, it’s a question that moves you forward.

This article was originally published on Medium.

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