If there’s one thing I tell about my clients, it’s to work SMARTER not work harder. Now and then, we can be carried away with our tasks and our goals. Using these tools, you should be able to streamline your thoughts and tasks to get there faster!
Let’s try to visualise the difference…
Working hard is like staying two hours or more at work to be able to finish a task. But since you’re already dead tired from all the things you did during the day, the result of your task won’t be outstanding. Additionally, you’ll have less time to relax, rest and recuperate and get focused for the next day.
Working smarter, on the other hand, means that you go home, eat, relax, take enough rest and do the other things that also make you happy. Then, you work on the task first thing in the morning to get it done. Since you’re well-rested, ideas will keep flowing in, and the result would be an A+ kind of work!
But shutting down your computer and deciding to go home and rest, instead of working an extra hour isn’t very easy to do, especially if you’re nearing a deadline or hungry to get things done ASAP. Fortunately, we have a long list of things you can do to manage your time properly and start working smarter:
1. Learn to say “no.” Did you know you DON’T have to say yes to everything? Learn to say no when you already have too much on your plate. It’s better than accepting all tasks and not being able to deliver a quality output.
2. Make a phone call. Sending an email is sometimes necessary, especially when you are trying to reach someone who is difficult to catch on the phone, or you need to get something in writing. I have a policy, especially if you’re looking to build a strong rapport. PICK UP THE PHONE! Even more so if you know the person. If it’s a friend, colleague, or client who has given you information to call; pick up the phone and give him a ring. It’s quicker and easier and far more friendly than emailing or texting.
3. Clean your workspace. As the old saying goes, “State of Home, State of Mind.” I don’t know about you, but a filthy workspace distracts and stops me from being productive. Clean your workspace by removing unnecessary things like old meeting reminders, trash papers, just general old crap you really don’t need. If you do need it. File it away!
4. Delegate nonessential tasks. Outsource. Remember, if you can outsource the tasks that will pay you $10, do it so you can focus on tasks that will pay you $100 or more. Delegation and outsourcing can be very valuable to all businesses when done right. Read here, my top 5 tips to effective outsourcing >>
5. Always start with the most important tasks. You have to start with the most important tasks for the following 2 reasons:
– You are most focused first up.
– Your mind isn’t tired yet, your focus will be paramount.
6. Set-up a Stand-up Desk. In an experiment done by Dr John Buckley, an exercise physiologist from the University of Chester, he asked 10 estate agents to stand up for at least 3 hours a day. Findings from that experience show that the agent’s blood glucose levels were lower, and their heart rates were faster, so they were burning more calories. It also boosted their productivity. Seriously, give this a try!
7. Don’t be afraid of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Get your product ready to go, start selling & getting feedback. Then evolve and make it better with new iterations of the product. Remember, there is no such thing as perfect!
8. Check out Trello for Task and Project Management. Milk it Academy team use Trello for all projects and tasks. It’s built off the principle of Agile Methodology. This tool lets all team members see what everyone is currently working on the status of the task with clear notes, empowers them to knowledge share and make decisions. It’s absolutely FREE.
9. Do real work first, not “checking your emails.” Someone said this to me once. How right they were. When you start your day, proceed to your tasks immediately. Checking emails will eat away a good 15 – 30 minutes that could have been used to finish tasks.
10. Don’t be afraid to learn new things. Learning new helps you gain wisdom. Take it from Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
11. Calm down, make a decision, avoid Analysis Paralysis! Avoid letting your fear or ego stop you from making important decisions. Opportunity may not come twice, so learn to face the fear and decide. It will help you move faster. Read more about this on our blog >>
12. Don’t Multitask, it’s “Multi-crap.” Multitasking can be a real pain sometimes. Because you desire to finish everything all at once, you end up with tasks halfway done at the end of the day. Like we said above, focus doing one task at a time and work on the most important ones first.
13. Learn sweet keyboard hacks. In case you don’t know, you can press CTRL+C and CTRL+V on your keyboard to copy and paste text. OR instead of doing it the long way: highlight, right click on the mouse, scroll down to copy, right-click on the mouse again, scroll down, and paste. Even typing the process took WAY longer. Snooze!
14. Skype your clients when you can, cut out the travel time unless necessary! It takes about an hour and thirty minutes to fly from Melbourne to Sydney and it takes 2 minutes to open your laptop and do a meeting via Skype. Save yourself from all the hassle and expenses in travelling and do your meetings via Skype instead.
15. Setup an ideal week in your calendar. Tasks are easier to accomplish when you have an “ideal” week set up in your calendar. Yes, things may not go smoothly as planned, but it will be easier to manage your time than just deciding what to do next on the spot. Think of it as productive meetings with yourself.
16. If you can answer an email in 2 minutes, do it now! If an email you’ve received only needs a short response,send one right away. Postponing your reply may cause you to forget sending one, and you end up missing important matters. Don’t forget! Picking up the phone is golden.
17. Remember the 80/20 rule of time management. Learn to apply the 80/20 rule. Also known as the Pareto Principle, the rule states that 20% of your efforts yield 80% of your results. This is why we should AUTOMATE empowering, efficient and effective behaviors in your workplace. Read more about this on our blog >>
18. If you’re swamped, shut down your emails. If you can’t focus on your tasks because a lot of emails are coming in, the best action would be to close your emails. This way, your full attention is to the job you need to finish urgently.
19. Every 45 minutes get take a breather, walk around. Our brains have trouble focusing after 45 minutes straight. So every after 45 minutes, take time just to stop take a breather and refocus for a few moments.
20. Go for a crappy first draft, and then refine. Even if your ideas do not correlate at the moment, write it as a draft and just refine later. Your flow of ideas will become smoother as you write, and you’ll be able to fill quickly in the missing parts.
22. Keep your body fuelled with good food, not sugary quick wins! What we eat affects our productivity. Don’t dismiss the power of excellent nutrition to sharpen your thinking and improve problem-solving, creativity, learning and memory recall. Read more about this on our blog here >>
23. Set SMART goals. Write down your goals. Be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely.
24. Ask questions! Even on forums like Yahoo or Quora. You don’t know what you don’t know. We all have rooms for learning, so don’t be afraid to ask if you aren’t familiar with the topic. People are always happy to help.
25. Hire a cleaner for your house. If you have the available cash flow, get yourself a cleaner! This was advice given to me by a very successful woman when I was young. If you can, do it! Think of the hours you’ll have free to do other things that will make you happy. You could be exercising, following a passion or just taking some down time.
26. Avoid Procrastination. “Waiting until later” is one of the reasons why a lot of tasks, even the simplest ones, never get done. Even just getting a start can be put off thanks to procrastination. So if you CAN start or finish the task today, do it right away.
27. Get off Facebook! Think of the hours you’re wasting there. This is, of course, an exception if when your work involves Facebook Marketing! Log out of your Facebook account. New posts will still be there when you log back on. Social media will only get you distracted. Let’s face it, if things were really important, you’d have got a phone call.
Working smarter requires discipline. Always keep in mind laser focus to the task in hand. Avoid getting flustered with overwhelm and do one thing at a time. Sure distractions creep in, so just ask yourself. How will this activity help me reach my goal or complete my task?
Which of the items above speaks most to you? What changes will you be doing in your working habit from now on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.