If you’re motivated by success you will naturally work hard and consistently push yourself to achieve more. However, while working hard is commendable it’s important that you don’t burn yourself out.
Instead of focusing on working harder, we should be focusing on working smarter. That means using our focus and prioritising our workload to maximise our success. You won’t need to work longer hours if you’re able to assess what you are currently doing and adapt your routine to be a smarter one. Take a look at our tips below to see how you can achieve more.
1. Keep in mind your purpose, values and mission
It’s easy to get caught up in everyday tasks and to lose sight of why we do what we do. If something isn’t in line with your ‘why’ in life, then you shouldn’t waste your time doing it.
2. Eat your frogs
Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to literally eat frogs. This is a well-known technique where you tackle the important tasks that you’re not looking forward to first thing in the morning. Then you won’t be worrying about them and putting them off throughout the rest of the day.
It may also be better to save the tasks you really enjoy for the afternoon as that it when your mind is more likely to want to wander and lose focus.
3. Check your meetings
Sometimes meetings are very helpful and productive and sometimes they feel like a complete waste of time. You can tidy up your calendar by asking yourself:
- If I’m not leading the meeting, can I delegate it and invest my time better elsewhere?
- Will my presence add value to others in the meeting?
If you are leading a meeting, then you should prepare a clear agenda and do your best to keep the discussion relevant and on track.
4. Make the most of prep
A fantastic way to work smarter is to focus on your preparation. This should include any relevant investigation, planning and implementation. Good preparation will help you to eliminate any unnecessary tasks, foresee problems and reduce stress as you’ll be more confident in your execution.
5. Be ready to adapt
Setting daily or weekly goals and deciding what your priorities are is always really helpful, however, it’s important to be ready to adapt and be flexible if your priorities change. Re-evaluating your plan and resetting your priorities is important if you want to stay focused and avoid burnout.
6. Know your prime time
When you’re planning your day and scheduling your tasks, you should be aware of when your mind is at its sharpest and when you have the most energy. Put your most important tasks that require a lot of focus in this time frame, so you are less likely to deviate.
Sometimes we get more done by working for four hours at our best than we would dragging everything out over an eight-hour day.
7. Rely on your diary
If you use your diary or calendar to schedule your work, you can better keep yourself on track. You can write down your key goals at the start of the week and pencil in your tasks as you go along. You can make a note of any to-dos that pop up at the bottom of the page and then add them in when it suits you. Having your days and plan written down will help you to be realistic about what you can accomplish each day.
8. Give yourself breaks
It’s important to give your brain and your body breaks if you want to stay focused and achieve more. If you sit at a desk for most of the day, then having a break to move around will help to release any built-up tension and get more blood pumping to your brain.
If you give yourself regular breaks you can also set yourself mini goals for each working period, you have. This will keep you motivated and help you to get things done in your timeframe. The Pomodoro Technique is a good method to follow.
9. Plan, do, review, adjust
Focusing on doing the important things first is key to working smarter, not harder. At the start of every week, you should define your priorities in line with your overall strategy. You can even block out your calendar for really important tasks to ensure meetings can’t be scheduled at that time.
At the end of the day, you should then assess anything you haven’t managed to accomplish and reorganise your schedule to make it happen. If you are getting the right things done then you’ll feel good and get better results.