Guest blog by Nicolle Germain, MBA
You’ve probably heard your whole life how hard work pays off and putting in an honest day’s work is important. But, my question to you is: Does Work Smarter NOT Harder really pay off? Some people waste hours of their day on unimportant tasks, looking for misplaced documents due to disorganization, giving into distractions (emails, phone calls, people coming into your office unannounced), and bouncing between projects and tasks inefficiently. Darren Hardy, mentor and coach to some of the most successful business people out there, stresses the importance of working smarter not harder in order to improve your daily productivity. But, what exactly does this mean?
Focus, Focus, Focus: As mentioned above, distractions are a huge source of inefficiency. You’ll spend a large part of your day trying to get back on track if you are continuously hopping between tasks. Ensure you’re organized from the get go when you begin a task or project so you’re not wasting time. Is your workspace clear? Do you have the pertinent projects materials you need ready to go and at your fingertips? Do you have your coffee or water? Do you have the distracting email alerts on your computer turned off? Is your phone on silent? Ok, once you have aptly prepared on the front end, it’s time to focus on the task at hand and get to work!
Stick to Your Plan & Set Goals for Yourself: People who are successful at planning their day and sticking to a schedule are more productive. Be realistic with your time. Schedule everything from breaks, meetings and project work. What are you goals for today, tomorrow, next week etc.? Use your calendar to block time or start working with a Task Manager app, such as Any.Do. These tools help you look at your day, week and month ahead and plan accordingly. Set goals for yourself and you’ll see the productivity pay-off.
“Do, Don’t, Dump, Delegate”: This is a great little 4 word mantra to ask yourself when feeling bogged down with work and being cognizant of time wasters. Is a particular task something you should do right now, save for later and don’t do at the moment, dump altogether as it is not necessary, or delegate to someone else who is more qualified or has the ability to support you. Sometimes we get entrenched in the idea of just “doing,” that we don’t evaluate the importance of each task that we complete.
Time Chunking: You may have heard of the idea of time chunking before, but what does it mean? It means you set aside specific time in a day to focus on one project or task (perhaps 1 hour or 2 hours at a time). You mark this time in your calendar and you stick to your plan. During this time you do not check emails or answer phone calls, you shut your office door or let others around you know that you are focusing on a particular task. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish by avoiding the trap of ‘multi-tasking’ and giving into the distractions around you.
Make Time for You: Overworking yourself may have short-term benefits, but it also has many long-term negative side effects. People who take short breaks in their day (even to get outside for a few minutes), have shown to have reduced stress levels, be more productive and have higher engagement levels in the workplace. Your overall happiness has a tremendous impact on your productivity. Small breaks and not working excessively long hours allow you to recharge and then get back to your work in a more focused manner.
With 2014 just around the corner, it’s a great time to implement some of these productivity strategies and see the pay off of working smarter, not harder!
photo credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc