How Can I Work Smarter and Not Harder?
Many people mistake being busy with being productive. But being productive means that you deliver results in a timely manner. If you want to be more productive and focus on impact without working harder or you are already overwhelmed by how hard you are working, you’ll need to keep your focus on deliverables, as well as, the impact of what you’re doing.
Focus on Deliverables
A deliverable is a result you’re shooting for when you make your plans. It could be a report, a slide deck, or even an experience like a ski trip – when you focus on the result you want to create from your work, you’ll eliminate most of the busy work during the planning process. My dad used to say “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” What is the straight line to your deliverable?
Chunk Down Tasks
I often find that small business owners’ tasks have many steps that need to be done to call the task finished. Chunk each task down to smaller steps, so that nothing seems like too much work or takes too long to accomplish. When you have chunked down tasks, you can take five minutes to do portions of any one project rather than having to do it all at once or stress yourself out over “everything you need to do” just to check that item off your list.
Organize Your Space
One of the best ways to work smarter, is to start with an organized area to work in. You will waste a lot of time if you have to constantly look for the tools you need to work with (Or look for items, reports, notes, etc). Even if you have to get them all out to start over, you’re less likely to do it. Set things up, have your tools prepped and ready to go, so it’s easy to do the needed work and so that you have no excuses.
Get Rid of Distractions
When you start to work on anything, it’s always better to focus 100 percent on the task at hand. Turn off the TV, turn off the radio, turn off your social media notifications, find a way to focus 100 % on the task, and you’ll find you get done faster and more accurately.
Use the Right Tools
Don’t try to do things without the right tools (even to save a couple of bucks). The truth is, you can likely find the tools at a good price second hand and save yourself a lot of struggle. But sometimes we are not talking about those types of physical tools, and in those moments, don’t go cheap. Go for speed. Invest – notice I used the term invest – in tools that will save you time. When you use the right tools, the task gets done faster without mistakes. Resist the urge to save money by cutting a corner or two when it comes to investing in tools and resources.
Sometimes to motivate yourself, it helps to delay gratification for yourself. Studies show that delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. People who learn how to manage their need to be satisfied in the moment thrive more in their careers, relationships, health, and finances than people who give in to it. For example, if you know, you need to create an outline for your next blog post, but you hate outlining you may set yourself up to give up. But if you set up delayed gratification that if you outline that blog post, you can have a cup of coffee or go for a walk or do something you really enjoy, you’re more likely to get it done.
Eat Right and Exercise
It’s difficult for anyone to work with proficiency and speed if they’re not feeling well. If you don’t eat right, exercise, and stay hydrated, you may be losing time being sicker than you need to be. Place a priority on your health so that you can focus on the good things in life and not fighting illness. Moderate exercise will keep your energy levels higher, your brain sharper and will help you rest better.
Always set your schedule to include refreshing breaks. Check out the Pomodoro Technique, which incorporates 25-minute work sessions with five-minute breaks, and then every three “Pomodoro’s” you get a longer 30-minute break. Anyone can do any kind of work for a short time.
The thing to remember about working smarter and not harder is that there is no productivity without the product. The product is your desired result that you set when you developed your goals and objectives, whether the deliverable is 100 pounds lost or a finished novel doesn’t matter, it’s the intentional planning and delivering that is important to avoid extra work.