All of us work hard in life – there is no doubt about it. We work hard in our jobs so we can excel at work. We work hard so we can achieve the best results in our life. working hard is important.
But you have to start working smart too (on top of working hard) to get the maximum value for your time and effort. Working hard gives you results, and working hard AND smart at the same time gives you the top results.
Working smarter, not harder, is an age-old adage. If you master the concept, your entire working life will be easier.
1. Start the most important items first
It sounds simple, but we’ve all made the mistake of leaving the most important task until the very end when there’s little chance of ever completing it. To avoid falling into this trap start by identifying the two or three tasks that are the most important to complete, and do those before anything else, regardless of how long they may take.
2. Make an outline.
Whether it’s in your head or on paper, you should have a checklist in mind and follow it in order. You don’t want to repeat steps, duplicate the efforts of others, make mistakes or forget anything.
3. Limit your goals.
Try to avoid multi-tasking because you often get less done since your brain is switching back and forth between tasks. Pick one thing to work on and put your best effort into that until it is accomplished. Set a time limit for when you stop working on the task at hand and take a rest.
4. Stop being a perfectionist.
Being a perfectionist isn’t all that perfect if it prevents you from achieving more. Release the perfectionist mindset. Stop obsessing about the details and specifics; they often take care of themselves.
5. Set Deadlines for Major Projects
Then focus only on starting to work on them—not finishing them. Instead of procrastinating, divide large projects into manageable pieces and attack only one piece at a time. Realize that many people who have trouble meeting deadlines have the unrealistic idea that their work should be perfect. Expect quality rather than perfection.
6. Learn from others.
There are great resources, smart people, direct opportunities and top books around you all the time. Learn to make use of them. When I started out in my personal development industry and with my blog, I read materials from the experts and consulted the top bloggers, which helped me gain important insights immediately. Even today, I continue to do so as I expand my work. There is never a stop to how much you can learn from others.
7. Take regular breaks
Staying motivated means having the energy level to push on at any stage of a project regardless of what’s going on around you. No one expects you to go full steam ahead every minute of the day, for the sake of your mental and physical well-being. So utilize the pockets of time you have to recharge your batteries so you can return with greater focus and concentration levels. Fresh eyes may even offer up a new solution to getting the job done.
8. Work around your strengths and weaknesses.
You know yourself better than anybody. You have strengths and weaknesses inherent to your being, and they’re going to affect how you work. Navigate around these by taking on more tasks that you’re good at and staying away from ones that slow you down; don’t try to do them all yourself. Delegate or work together with others to shoulder the burden of your weakest tasks or skills, and spend more time doing what you do best.
9. Recognize and eliminate distractions
This should be obvious, but the most dangerous distractions are the ones you don’t even realize are distracting. Maybe you’re working on a new marketing plan with a couple tabs of research open, and a third tab that’s, conveniently, open to Facebook. You get a new notification, so you click out of your Word doc to check it real quick. You spend 20 seconds looking at the post you were just tagged in before you minimize it again. Twenty seconds isn’t a long time, but it breaks your focus and forces you to restart your last train of thought, possibly costing you a few minutes or more. Compound that happening several times an hour, and you’ve instantly reduced your overall productivity.
For the lower impact items that need to get done (such as administrative activities), delegate them to someone else. If you are running a business, hire someone to take care of them.