sitheris: probably also look for specific problems you are solving and check if there are blog posts, video-casts about that (stuff like railscasts, and so on...) -- usually one can see and learn some little tidbits from there
Bish: well, guessing here: you could move the "slow task" into a background job. if there is database query, it is probably the case, one could optimize either the query or the db to make it faster.
but with only seeing the arguments, it is basically impossible to actually help you.
and i'm not saying that i can actually can, but you are making it hard for others...