If you have ever looked online for ways to improve your productivity, it’s likely you have come across the saying of “work smarter, not harder” but it’s not often you actually find a definition by what the writer means.
At the end of the day you are still going to have exactly the same amount of work to do and the same time to complete it in. However, the thing that will make the difference is how you go about it. By using a few tricks you will be able to complete the work faster and ultimately get more done!
So here are my top tips for working “smarter”:
Track and Limit Your Time
I time what I am doing. My client work is all timed and recorded, so have started incorporated into my own work on my business. I will look at the clock and set myself a limit of how long I am going to spend on a task. This keeps me motivated and focused to get it done during the time I’ve allowed. It does take some getting used to tracking and limiting but you will start to see a difference.
Take Regular Breaks
This is something a lot of people just don’t understand. You have loads to do so why would you take a break? If you keep going and trying to push through you become less productive. Your mind becomes distracted and you don’t focus. You start to slow down or you lose concentration altogether. Take a break away from whatever you are working on. Get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Have a coffee. Move about. Do anything to get you away then you can go back ready to get the job done.
You may already have a deadline you are working to. If you haven’t, set yourself one. If you have a goal to work towards, you will want to achieve it and are more likely to stick to it.
Learn To Say No
This is something a lot of people, including myself, struggle to do. If you are completely at capacity but someone comes along asking you to do something else, don’t feel you have to say yes every time. If it’s for a customer or client then you probably won’t want to turn the business down. However, if you really can’t say no, is it something that needs to be done now? Could you possibly outsource it to someone else? May be even build up a collaboration with a competitor to refer work to, and vice versa?
Don’t multi task
I will contradict myself on this later but trust me it will make sense! If you are working on something, don’t get side-tracked into starting something else. Finish what you are doing and see it through from start to finish. If you keep picking things up and putting them down or trying to juggle too much, you will waste valuable time and spend more time remembering where you were up to.
Take Advantage of “Dead” Time
This is where I am going to contradict myself. It’s okay to multi-task when it’s something you can physically dip in and out of and doesn’t necessary involve a lot of concentration. For example, I join regular webinars and have had the recordings playing back whilst making dinner, as an example. Preparing dinner is second nature so doesn’t take a lot of my focus, meaning that I can take in what is being said on the recording. It’s making use of the dead “free” time by doing something productive.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend doing whilst driving but if you use public transport, can you make use of that free time whilst travelling to get a few bits done?
Exercise is very important not only for our health and wellbeing but also our minds. If you can fit something in during your working day even better. Even a 10 minute brisk walk will get the adrenaline pumping and increase your productivity levels, keeping you focused and in control. I try to break my working day up so I will try and go for a walk around lunchtime with my daughter along the seafront or in our village. If the weather is horrible we will have a dance around the living room. It gives me a nice little boost and will keep me going for the afternoon.
Think Proactive not Reactive
Thinking proactively is a much better way to work and isn’t difficult to achieve if you plan and organise your time effectively. This is where it is important to have deadlines to work towards. It’s all about assessing what needs to be done and prioritising when to get things done by. There will at times be occasions where you end up working having to work reactively if you are relying on someone else, but even then you know the deadline and you plan it in with everything else to ensure you are taking action.
Turn Off Notifications/Minimise Distractions
We all do it. We are working on something and really need to get it done, but we have our phone next to us pinging away with text messages, emails, social media notifications, with music or the tv in the background putting us off, and that’s not including the distractions that our families bring to the table! Put your phone on silent, close down your social media and emails from your browser, turn off the tv or radio, lock yourself away and get on with what you need to get done!
I hope this blog has given you some ideas on ways to try and improve your productivity and get back on track with what you need to do, but if time really isn’t on your side and you need to delegate some of the work out, then why not take advantage of my FREE no obligation consultation to see if there is anything I can help you with to ease the pressure. You can book a call directly here or email me at email@example.com to arrange a convenient time.