As you grow older, it’s very easy to feel like there are not enough hours in the day. In fact, it’s enough to make you crave the days when you had nothing but time. Anyway, as the days pass by and the work piles up, you need to look for ways to be more productive in the little time you have. There really is no other way around it and the worst-case scenario involves you reaching a burn out point.
Obviously, it’s easier said than done, especially because some career paths are more strenuous than others. But there are a few blanket concepts you can apply to help you work smart and not hard, regardless of what it is that you do.
1 – Focus on the results
This may very well sound puzzling considering the fact that you are all about results. But there’s a right and wrong way to go about this. You literally need to work less sometimes to really drive things home. Look at it this way, let’s say you are a data entry officer looking to input 1000 slots of data every day. Rather than rushing to the finish line every single day, why don’t you concentrate on inputting the data correctly? Put in the right figures, the right names, the right vendors, and top it all off with stellar formatting.
What’s the use of getting all the work done speedily only to burn out. Even worse, imagine having to do it all again because it is riddled with errors. That is everyone’s nightmare because it’s essentially harder to work on something you’ve done before than to do it the first time around.
So, spend enough time getting it right when the work is still nice and fresh. Try your best to pace yourself so you don’t burn out or fall into a cycle of mental fatigue. But if you are already there, you can find effective ways to dig yourself out of mental fatigue.
2 – Depend on your phone only when it’s needed
It’s so easy to depend on your phone for just about everything, for some people their phone has become an extension of their arm. But, you should actually only use the phone when it’s needed. For instance, waiting for a reply to that email will logically take a lot more time than placing a phone call through. So, that’s a good reason to simply pick up your phone and call your coworker.
In the case that you need information quite urgently, it’s a good idea to simply call. On the other hand, if the colleague in question is just a few desks away, get up, walk over and tell them what you need to tell them. Not only does that save you time, but it goes a long way to ensure that you get that little element of human contact squeezed into your day. Technology should never be a crutch, it should only make your capabilities more effective.
3 – Make your workspace more efficient
Whether it’s a traditional office or one of the bedrooms in your home, having an efficient workspace is a major way to amp your productivity. As such, you should constantly be on the lookout for ways to make it more efficient. At the office, things are pretty much set up to ensure that you get work done. But you streamline your processes to ensure that you can get a lot more done.
For instance, instead of using usual means to dispose toner cartridges, you can reduce office waste by selling it. You can equally try to document files digitally as opposed to physical documents. It makes it a lot easier to access them and it does not hurt that it’s great for the environment.
By now, you should totally get the drift. On the other hand, if you are working from home, get rid of clutter, give yourself smaller tasks, and periodically look for ways to move around. Altogether, really endeavor to make the space your own and try to be as organized as possible.
4 – Don’t avoid failure at ALL costs
Some people are so scared of failure that they try to avoid it no matter what it would cost them. These same people are so scared of failing that they get frazzled anytime it rears its head.
Failure is actually not ideal, but if you are consumed by the fear of something, it’ll eventually become your undoing. So, rather than being so afraid of failure that you choose
to never think out of the box, accept it when it comes. Don’t get it wrong, it’s not ideal to set yourself up for failure.
But don’t just take it lying down, proceed to learn from it. This is the only way you can learn and adopt more efficient ways to get your work done. Without mistakes, you’ll never actually find new ways to work smart and not hard.
5 – Ask Questions
Some people don’t feel competent when they have to ask questions… it’s a pride thing. It’s also quite odd since asking questions can make things incredibly easy. If you endeavor to ask the right questions at the right time, it could end up streamlining all your processes. You see, all the answers provided during a good question and answer session can help you make the right moves.
So, rather than scrambling around not knowing what to do, get all the information you need to be armed with going in. So, do not be afraid, or even ashamed to ask questions, it’ll give you the road map to getting things done even before the proverbial nick of time.
6 – Time yourself
Don’t get it wrong, this is not a way to rush ahead while you are carrying out tasks. Rather, it’s a great way to really get a sense of how much time you spend on each task. Once you see how long you are taking to tick things off your list, it’ll really help you optimize your time.
Based on all that, you can easily identify the setbacks in your process and work on them accordingly. It may seem a bit like rocket science going in, but best believe that once you start it’ll flow. As you get better, you can actually time yourself and look for ways to speed up your process while still delivering on a top-notch level.
7 – Maximize your mornings
There is something about the start of a workday that really makes you work at your best. You’ve just woken up, taken a shower, had some coffee with your breakfast… it’s a recipe for productivity. So, it makes more sense than in the morning, your brain is well-prepped for anything that is thrown its way. If you didn’t know this, then now you know.
Based on this information, you need to take advantage of this period and schedule your difficult tasks for this period. You’ll notice that your mind will be able to take up most challenges at this point. A lot of people like to start from simple things and work their way up to the harder ones. Try your best not to do this because your brain energy will wane as the day gets older. Now, this particular point is probably the definition of working hard and not smart.
8 – Do what works for you
The truth is that there is no actual blanket solution to working smart and not hard. In this case, what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander. You have to find ways to work that suit you and your personality. Some people get a lot more done when it’s pin-drop silence. On the other hand, other people prefer loud settings and it gets their creative juices flowing.
This is just a little example, but there are so many little things like this that can help optimize your workflow. So, if you like to nibble while you work because it helps you work faster, go ahead. If you like to start somewhere in the middle rather than at the beginning, do that too. At the end of the day, following someone else’s template will really not get you anywhere. Find your rhythm, and run with it, because if it works for you that is really all that matters.
Life on its own is no walk in the park, and when you take the fact that we all need to work into account, it’s harder. But there are ways around this, and that should be evident at this point. Since working is definitely a necessity for most people, you probably have no choice but to do it. But not at the detriment of your productivity, your brainpower, and your all-around mental health. As you continue to work, look for ways to get stuff done without turning your brain to a pile of mush. There will always be an easier way to do things that won’t cut down on the accuracy of your work.