Imagine this: you’ve been filling out applications for weeks and weeks looking for a new job – and finally you get a call back. They’re excited about your application and they want to meet you tomorrow at noon!
You can barely sleep the night before, and when the time comes, you’re burning with energy. You hop the bus to get there and rush in the building, only to find the elevator is broken.
But you don’t let that stop you. You rush up the stairs, and by the time you make it to the top, you’re completely out of breath. It’s only then, when you look at the sign hanging above the receptionist, that you realize you were in the wrong building the entire time!
Now you’re both late AND worn out. You might have been busy, but you didn’t DO anything.
As the cliché goes, “Work smarter, not harder.” A phrase we all have encountered at our workplace. And as we try to picture this out, this often times portray an image of a businessman relaxing on the beach with a smart phone and cocktail in hand.
We live in a culture that emphasizes hard work over everything else. Rarely do we stop to ask whether we’re working hard on the right things for the right reasons.
If you feel like you’re climbing a whole building’s worth of stairs in the wrong building, chances are that you’re not working very effectively.
Because most people simply end up experiencing confusion, they spend way too much on crap ‘systems’ that don’t work, they make meagre or non-existent decisions and end up completely overwhelmed. If you found yourself stuck in always learning and never doing, there is a solution for that.
Here are 4 ways to improve your work habit:
First: Take a couple of days off.
This can be a very tough decision to make, especially if you’re hanging on by your fingernails. But the fact is that you need to have a clear head when you analyze your business. That’s very difficult to do when you’re burned out.
Give yourself a little time to emotionally and physically reboot, even if it’s only for a weekend. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
Second: Stop being a perfectionist!
Too many people try to do everything perfectly because they’re afraid of being “caught” or looking bad, or they have a “personal standard” they feel they need to live up to.
Drop the idea that all your work needs to be flawless, because it will explode the amount of work you need to do. Chances are that you need volume, more traffic, more customers, and more buyers.
So start going after it!
Third: Use time blocking
Productivity and organization go hand-in-hand. When we get busy or face times of stress, it’s easy to let things slide. And before you know it, your desk and habits are in disarray. “Time blocking” is a method that just might help you avoid those moments of chaos, and keep your mind and office clear.
If a lot of your work is reactive, you may think this method won’t work for you. But, fortunately, you can assign blocks of time to reactive work, too, so as to avoid that 8 hour game of Candy Crush when you’re at work.
If a large portion of your work is spent in your inbox, schedule 30 minutes every 2 hours in your inbox (A big deal? Add some information to your signature letting people know that you only check email a few times per day to keep up productivity). This allows your other blocks of time to be far less interrupted, enabling you to get your best work done.
Great people are always seeking to improve their performance. With the ability to see how much time was spent where, you can monitor where time could be better spent and set personal benchmarks to get better results in the future.
Fourth: Learn how to prioritize
Eight percent of our accomplishments come from 20 percent of our efforts. So think strategically: What 20 percent of your work is the most valuable to you. Once you’ve identified it, try to focus a big chunk of your time and energy in that direction. Learn to say no to non-essential demands. And don’t waste your time perfecting every minor tasks when you could spend the time more profitably on something else.
Organizing your tasks with a list can make everything much more manageable and make you feel grounded. Seeing a clear outline of your completed and uncompleted tasks will help you feel organized and keep you stay mentally focused.
Fifth: Give Yourself An Audit
Take a look at the time you used for the day – rate their activities on a scale of 1-10, with a 10 being very helpful to your business, and a 1 being something very counterproductive. What were the reasons for doing the low-rated tasks? Can you attack them and get rid of them?
Keep in mind, that working smart comes down to finding the most efficient and effective way to reach goals. This often includes leveraging other people or resources, utilizing self-awareness to build on strengths and delegating when appropriate. The more self-awareness you gain about your work style, the more you can find ways to work smarter, not harder and finally achieve the work-life balance you desire.
Remember, your goal isn’t to be busy, it’s to accomplish more. Work less and spend more time thinking about how to improve your efficiency, and you’ll love the results you’ll get.