3 ways to work smarter, not harder
I arrive home on Friday, tired, and feel that the weekend is more a respite from the week ahead, rather than an opportunity to live. – An average employee
Many will unfortunately relate to this, and it is because of the nature of one the most important parts of their life. Their work.
Gone should be the days of working 8-10 (the long version) because putting in more hours is the only way to achieve your targets. This fictional belief frequently does quite the opposite, and it is rarely sustainable in the long term. It will mean that your work quality drops, and you will find yourself not enjoying what you do.
We have a mantra at Cloudamour that working ‘smarter, not harder’ is a far better solution. In view of the current ongoing difficulties people have, we have noted three areas which, if improved, will achieve powerful results. Some will experience effects more than others, but in even assessing these areas of your work life, you will better them.
1. Work Patterns
“Manage your energy not your time” – James Clear
The first point to acknowledge is that you are in-fact human. While you may try to work in mechanical fashion, you have to realise that you have limitations, and rather than ignoring them, you should try and work with them. James Clear cleverly describes the following:
“Imagine that your brain is a computer. At the beginning of the day, your brain powers up and you have 100 percent of your computer memory available to use on your life. The only problem is that every time you add a task to your to-do list, a little bit of your computer memory goes toward that task.”
When to work
In view of your internal memory, you have to structure how and when you want to work. Some people are more creative in the mornings, fresh to go. Others like to get more menial tasks done, and then have freedom. However you should try and keep to your plan, consistency is key.
I know some in our office leave one day a week to do all their calls; I personally work on social mechanisms first thing and then move on to blogs, which means that by the time lunch has arrived, most of my content is created.
Marie Poulin writes really well on this in Medium but in its essence you have to give everything you do margins. Things do overrun and you will not always correctly estimate how long something will take, so allow time for it.
If you are constantly up against the clock and chasing back time your work quality will not be at the standard you want it to be.
One of the reasons this frequently occurs is because you give yourself too much to do in one day. While you may be up against it, you have to prioritise, and that is a really hard art to get right. It is not about doing what you like, or what you think other people want, it is about achieving your total goal – why you actually work.
But it also means that you have to get time away from work. Gain perspective. Quitting some applications will allow the PC to work much better.
To do list
This is noted above, but you have to write lists down. The more you rely on your memory for tasks, the heavier you will feel about what you have to do.
Get things in print/ digital, and with a greater sense of what you have to do, you will find yourself with a compass to your destination.
Get your ideas down quick
Do not disturb.
This age old term is really important to work productively. You have to acknowledge when to talk, and when to work, I say this because it is almost impossible to do both at the same time.
This is a very hard balance that regrettably has no ‘one size fits all’. Some suggest only opening your email at certain times of the day. Some say to have it open, but have strict filters that only notify you for important emails. I tend to do a mix.
Despite email being instantaneous it is important to remember that most emails will not be urgent, and therefore aim to finish your current task and then shift focus.
Face to face
While I am wary about the impact of email, face to face communication is so valuable. Having weekly WIP (work in progress) meetings will keep you in the loop, and ensure that each task is delegated to the most applicable person.
I also think that ‘hot desking’ can be very useful, and mixing up your habits in this sense will keep your brain ticking, and teach you more about what works best.
Creativity comes in many forms…
The last point, creativity, is really a bi-product of the previous two, but with a big difference, this is the part of your work that will continually challenge you. Conquering a task will benefit you for the next time you approach, but the beast of creativity is such that despite previous successes/ failures, creativity will never just fall into your lap, it takes effort.
Creativity is the demonstration of working smarter as it is normally the first out the window when you have a lot to do. But ironically it is one of the most important to the success of a company. So make the time. Schedule it in. Prioritise it. Mostly importantly, don’t rush it.
“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do”Eric Jerome Dickey, Author
The venn diagram
Most jobs require an allocation of time towards things that you find riveting and those that you feel do not utilise your potential. This is your venn diagram. The goal is to balance the two in a manner that continually drives you.
That’s all folks
So take the time to think about patterns, communication and creativity.
This ever evolving topic will result in some disagreement as well as some ‘ahah’ moments. Whatever the outcome we would love to hear your thoughts.
Comment below 🙂
What are your thoughts on the matter?
What tips do you have on working smarter?
What helps your productivity?