Have you ever heard of managers barking out this cliché?
“Don’t just work harder, work smarter!”
Some, perhaps, think that they are smarter by telling their people to work smarter. Unless the manager trains his or her people by showing how to do it, then this action does not improve the worker’s performance.
Working smart is important. But how exactly do we work smart?
Some people equate working smart as taking short-cuts. They continuously find ways of superseding process, violating regulations, and not delivering requirements. They think that they are being “creative” and as such, smart.
They look at each requirement as a bureaucratic impediment, a legalistic obstacle that only delays results. This is not working smart.
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If you look at all of my writings and seminars, you would know that I am a firm believer of hard work. But we can work smarter without compromising our ethical standards. We can still manage to reach the top and enjoy.
Allow me to offer few practical ideas on how to work smart the right way.
1. BUILD PRODUCTIVE HABITS.
Habits are powerful; having a habit is like having a plan. Routines are powerful; having a routine is like having an alarm system that tells us it’s time to work.
I have my own routine. I wake up in the morning, do my quiet time, open the news channel, listen to podcast while dressing and preparing my lessons for the day’s training requirements.
I go home at night and spend time with the kids. When they retire to their own rooms, I work on my new book, write articles and make sure I do my To-Do list for the next day.
Every productive and creative person I know has a routine. A routine can free us from the unneeded and unexpected happenings that can potentially rob us the opportunity to be creative.
2. SEPARATE YOUR TO-DO LIST FROM YOUR TODAY LIST
Productivity expert David Allen says that, “Your mind is for having ideas not holding them.”
You may put those ideas in your To-Do list. However, your Today list contains the MOST (limit these) important things you MUST do today. And when you go through the massive things contained in your To-Do list, you may spot certain things that you can put in your Some Day list.
Being swamped with many ideas in your To-Do list that do not necessarily add value to your success goals is actually a bad investment.
Check your To-Do list. Limit the items you want to add into the list. The top of the list should contain your most important tasks. Stick to them and do not be distracted. Write the list the night before. And remember, deal with your most important tasks first.
3. CREATE A ROUTINE AND WORK AROUND IT.
Having a routine does not mean everything is carved on stone. You need to determine what makes you waste time. Some of these activities may include choosing clothes too long or doing Facebook or checking out your favorite websites. These activities steal minutes away from your precious time. Try to track and study them; you’ll see how unimportant these activities are and how much they are wasting your time. Try to eliminate them.
4. CREATE HEALTHY HABITS AND STICK TO THEM.
Now that you have determined your most important tasks and have created a routine based on them, stick to this routine and do it first. Do it repetitively and over time, you begin to build healthy and productive habits.
5. EVALUATE YOUR RESULTS AND NOT THE TIME SPENT.
‘Working harder’ means putting more hours to the same activity every day. ‘Working smarter’ means eliminating low-value activities and concentrating only on high-value work.
Some people may not be working as long as others, but they are delivering more results.
By creating productive habits, you are working smart.
How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Be smart.