5 Super Ways To Work Smarter, Not Harder
It was when the Director came into my office one evening that I realized there was something wrong. He was not a frequent visitor!
He just said:-
“Shouldn’t you be finishing up and heading home?” I seem to remember it was about 7 p.m.
Yes, he was right, but I was understaffed and under enormous pressure as the workload had increased tenfold! I was also becoming a workaholic.
I should have asked there and then for more staff but, of course, I didn’t. This is the typical omission you mull over on your way home.
But, if I was patently honest with myself, I realized that there were loads of things I could do myself to work smarter, not harder. Longer hours was not the answer!
Several months later I had developed my own ways of working smarter.
1. The more you work, the less productive you become.
I should have realized this much earlier especially as I was making errors in the financial returns as the evening wore on.
There is lots of research on how fatigue, stress and other factors take over and we just became less and less productive. You can see the Stanford University report here.
Henry Ford was streets ahead of his time when he announced in 1926,
“Just as the eight-hour day opened our way to prosperity in America, so the five-day workweek will open our way to still greater prosperity…it is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either lost time or a class privilege,”
Ford was delighted to find that his workers got more done in 5 days than in 6 days!
The best solution for me was to stop working at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I stuck to it and I ran off to the gym. I had to because my favorite aerobics lesson started at 6.p.m.
That was the best decision I ever made. I found that my stress levels were reduced, and I was becoming a normal human being again. I was also getting more work done.
I made a compromise with myself and I did work longer hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and some Fridays. But it worked for me.
I was using my time much more productively, and I was safeguarding my health as well.
2. Time is precious — use it well
How many articles have you read on time management skills? No, don’t tell me! I found that the following hacks worked for me.
I was so fond of my to-do list and would be happy as I crossed through all those completed tasks. The only problem was that this was feeding my procrastination habit!
You see, I was doing all those easy ones and leaving the really nasty, demanding ones till the last or forever putting them off.
Then I decided that each new list had to have the nasty ones — the MIT (Most Important Tasks) — at the top. This helped me to prioritize tasks as well so it was a good combination.
I also tried (80% success rate!) to stop all the multitasking which was ruining a lot of my tasks because I just thought I was a superman and was on top of everything. The sad truth was that I was just running from one task to the other and the results were pretty awful.
I discovered that setting modest deadlines of say 20 -30 minutes per task was helping me to stay focused. For difficult tasks, I switched off email notifications so these tempting messages no longer appeared.
I also dedicated a set time for dealing with all emails. I did this twice a day because sometimes there are urgent ones that demand a fast answer.
I discovered that my own line manager was using this technique because my in-box suddenly blossomed with about 10 emails from her all within the space of 30 minutes. Well, at least she was on the ball with time management skills!
If you like the idea of keeping up your time management skills by installing a few apps, there is a great list of apps here.
3. Talk to more people if you can
How about much fewer emails and trying one-on-one communication when it is possible? Very often colleagues are just around the corner so it makes sense to talk to them.
The written word is always a bit scary. CAPS, deadlines and all sorts of innuendos about the legality of the written word. So I started using my EQ skills which are very strong (he said modestly!) and I got better results.
The same goes for phoning people because this is way more personal and friendly. Also, I found that taking a walk down the corridor was a great way to lead a less sedentary existence.
4. Get rid of all tabs
Having too many tabs open at the top of your computer is a great way to lose time and prevent you from working smarter. They are great distractors and we rarely use them. They are also overloading our brains and most of them are not used. I find that I only need a few open most of the time.
I found that when I got rid of all those unwanted tabs (my computer was also working faster) and once I discovered the tab “re-open closed tab”, well, I felt much more relaxed.
5. Learn keyboard shortcuts
I found that learning to use these keyboard shortcuts saved me a ton of time.
I have just discovered that pressing the Windows key + D gets me back to my desktop!
You can get the full list here-
Also, if you decide to type faster, you can save up to 21 days a year! Just think that if you can double the speed you type now, you will be able to get twice as much done.
There are lots of free apps /programs to help improve your typing. You can find a great list here.
Just follow these tips to maximize your potential, achieve your goals more quickly while saving time and energy. You still have to work hard, though!
and you will earn good rewards.
and you will earn great rewards.
Work hard and work smart,
and you will earn extraordinary rewards.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
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