Top 10 Tips for... Working Smarter
If your New Year’s work resolution is to manage your work/life balance better in 2018, then you may want to think about how you can also work smarter, rather than necessarily harder.
While we may all pride ourselves in working to the best of our ability – it’s about the quality of time we put in at the office, rather than the amount of toil that’s important. An hour of productive work is better than a whole day spent procrastinating about a particular job, and certainly more rewarding.
Here are our Top Ten Tips for working smarter this year:
1. Create an action plan
The secret to success is in the planning and preparation. An action plan will help you focus on the individual steps you need to take to complete the task. Crossing each action off as you achieve it will help you see how far you’ve come and will be a great source of motivation if it proves difficult. An action plan is especially important if your goal is complex or something which may take a while.
2. Ask the right questions at the right time
Any good action plan, as mentioned above, involves gathering facts and information so you can prepare well for the task ahead. If you’re ill-prepared, it will take you longer to complete the job. When preparing for your assignment or project the key is to ask the right questions of your boss/client/customer etc before you begin. The answers will help you make informed decisions and you can then use your time to knuckle down and complete the task.
3. Improve your time management skills
If you’re easily distracted by incoming emails or other colleagues’ activities, then put your ‘out of office’ on, switch your phone to voicemail and put up a polite ‘do not disturb’ sign. If you’re not particularly good at multi-tasking then ‘single-tasking’ will help you work smarter and to concentrate. After all, our brains can’t be in two places at once.
4. Make sure your goals are realistic
A good goal should be something that takes you out of your comfort zone – but it also needs to be achievable. You might dream about filing that complex report or preparing that sales pitch in an hour, but your experience should tell you that may not be doable to the best possible standard. Setting realistic but challenging goals is the perfect recipe for success.
5. Communicate better
A bottomless list of emails can easily make you feel deflated and uninspired about your day ahead, especially if they involve lots of additional work. We’re all guilty of firing off an email just so we can tick off actions on our ‘to do’ list when it would have been easier to pick up the phone and have a chat instead. The personal approach is even more rewarding, so why not give your legs a stretch and talk to your colleague in person instead?
RELATED ARTICLE: It's All About the Communication
6. Feel motivated and inspired
Of course, not all our jobs at work can be really motivating and inspirational. Let's be honest – some are routine and mundane. But it’s always worth taking time to look for what could be amazing about the project you are working on to motivate you and to help you work smarter. If it’s not something you care about, you’re unlikely to have the energy and enthusiasm to see it through.
7. Take a break
To work smarter you need to also look after yourself. If you’re worn out, distracted and hungry then you won’t feel productive and enthusiastic. The best way to get your endorphins going is to get away from your desk and blow away those cobwebs with some fresh air and exercise. If you’re sporty, why not take a run or walk at lunchtime? Also think about mindfulness, which helps promote calmness and happiness. It involves giving your full attention to how you feel and what is happening in the moment. Taking time out at work to think about how you’re feeling can help you handle negativity and stress better too.
RELATED ARTICLE: Take a Break - Burn on or Burn out
8. Turn off social media
It’s wonderful that we are able to be in constant contact with people via email, instant messaging or Skype. We can keep up to date with what’s going on throughout the world thanks to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and a thousand other social media and news websites. Technology means running a business is easier than ever before – but it can also be a massive distraction. To work smarter you need to switch off your phone and don’t be tempted to check your favourite news website or social media channels until you’ve got the job done.
9. Time yourself
You might already have a ‘to-do’ list but if you’re never actually getting to the end of it, then it may be more useful to see how long it realistically takes you to do each task. Timing yourself is not about putting yourself under pressure, but about analysing realistically how long it takes you to do certain things. Once you know, you can plan your day better and set more realistic goals.
10. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Starting each job from scratch can be a big time waster. Many of the routine parts of our jobs, such as filing reports, preparing for meetings or writing letters, will involve similar templates or sources of information. It’s much easier to find and modify templates which have been used before. If you don’t have one, then why not ask your contacts within your industry if they are using something which you could easily adapt for your own purposes? There’s no point starting from a blank page if you can find an alternative.
For more information about working smarter, read our blog - How to Work Smarter in 2018.
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