5 Ways To Work Smarter Not Harder
No piece of productivity advice is more well-worn than the adage, “Work smarter, not harder.” Of course, the directive points to the fact that it’s not how many hours you put in at your desk that matters—it’s how you spend your time there. In other words, get results faster and you won’t be spending so many late nights at the office.
But what does it really mean to work smarter? “It means figuring out better, faster ways to work,” says personal productivity expert and trainer Peggy Duncan. But before you enroll in a time management course or start playing “beat the clock” with your project list, consider these counter intuitive ways to get more done.
Improve your time management skills
Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better. For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus. Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it. “When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” -Sir Ray Avery
DON’T DIVE RIGHT IN
Most of us have warped views of how we spend our time, Duncan says. “If you don’t see it on paper staring at you in the face, you won’t realize that you spend too much time on Facebook, or that you have the same people interrupting you all the time, asking you the same questions,” she says.
Spend a week keeping a time log. Write down what you’re doing, how long it’s taking you, and who is interrupting you and what they wanted. “Because the biggest time-management mistake people make is not realizing how much time they waste. When you analyze it, you see what’s going on,” she says. And you’ll have a good data set to figure out how you can shift your time usage, minimize interruptions, and learn a few key lessons
- LEARN TO SAY NO:
Avoid over-scheduling yourself and be realistic about what you can accomplish in a single day. Sometimes you just have to cut yourself off because in most professions, there is almost always something that could be done.
- LET SOMEONE ELSE DO IT
To be more effective, you’ve got to ask for help and enlist people who are better at certain tasks and functions than you are, he says. That requires taking a hard look at your strengths and having the humility to admit that there are some areas you’re more skilled in than others. You’re likely spending more time than is necessary on the things you’re not good at—when you can delegate those tasks, you free up time to do the work you’re best at, which you’re probably going to do faster and enjoy more.
Learn as much as you can
You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche. Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.