4 Ways to Work Smarter Instead of Harder
There aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s just a fact, which applies to everyone. You’ll never really get on top of all the things you possibly can do at work, especially if you include meta-tasks like learning more and networking within your industry, and most of us really want to have a little time left over to play, spend time with our family or just watch Netflix.
Everybody gets 24 per day, 168 per week. Why, then, do some people stand out while others work overtime just to keep up? Part of the answer may lie below.
Take Frequent Breaks
Most people, when they think of working really hard, probably have the image of someone hunched over their desk for hours on end, undiverted by Facebook, snacks or even the call of nature. This certainly shows dedication, but does it actually get stuff done?
Very few people are actually able to work this way for more than a few hours while still retaining their focus, creativity, and motivation. If you’re one of these, bravo!Pomodoro technique for sustained concentration and productivity.
Delegate and Automate
Here’s a secret from the world of software development: the smartest, most productive programmers are also usually the laziest. What’s meant by this is that these individuals will be the ones who tend to read the manual for their development environment, look online for tools they can use and frequently find ways of automating tasks that their hard-working colleagues spend hours doing manually.
Even if you’re not a coder, the same principle can be applied to nearly any job. If you’re wasting hours each day making inconsequential phone calls or sifting through irrelevant emails, ask yourself if an assistant can’t free up this time for things that really do require your attention. In much the same way, learning how to use macros and seeing what software you can apply to your daily tasks will keep you from wasting your energy on the trivial.
Communicate More Clearly
“Why is there never time to do something right, but always time to do it over?” complains a certain motivational sign. Really, a lot of us can relate to that sentiment. In the modern workplace, almost nothing can be accomplished solo, and when more than one person is involved, communication failures are bound to occur.
Talking directly yet politely is not a skill everyone possesses naturally, and to make matters worse, we often can’t detect our own lousy communication habits. Consulting a professional has saved more than one career and relationship.
Start from First Principles
This advice was stolen without apologies from Elon Musk. Anyone interested in productivity, technology or how smart people think will almost certainly find a great deal of value in what this pioneer has to say.
The common perception of being productive is to start with a bang and keep going until you’re done. Is this really right? Actually, there’s one step missing in this model: looking, listening and thinking before you plunge ahead.
Firstly, is the task you set for yourself even necessary? Especially in large organizations, the honest answer is often “no.” Is it really part of your job, or is a colleague trying to palm their work off on you? Distracting yourself from your essential tasks is no way to get ahead. Above all, prioritize and decide what outcomes will serve your purpose – if the important stuff is done right, the rest tends to fall into place.