The phrase ‘work smarter, not harder' is a saying that you will often come across when reading up on how to improve your success in all areas of life, but especially so in your business. But what does it really mean, and how do you do it? Read on to find out more.
Let's face it, building up a business and then running it are pretty time-consuming tasks, especially if you are a one-person startup. No matter how hard you work, there are still only going to be 24 hours in a day and seven days in the week. Like many business people, you may decide to push yourself to the limit, putting pressure on yourself to get everything done quickly and trying to meet impossible deadlines. Substituting sleeping, spending time with your family and friends for work, maybe something that you can just about get away with in the short term, but in the long run, something has to give, and you are likely to end up burnt out. This is where the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder,' transforms itself from just another expression that you hear thrown around, into a way of working that could bring you the results that you crave, and enable you to get some sleep and spend time with your loved ones.
Assess Your Motivations
Take some time to figure out why you are spending so much of your time working. This may sound like a pretty dumb question, but be honest with yourself anyway. Have you set up your business for the love of what you do? Or, have you set up your company because you want to make some serious cash? If your end goal is more about making money, rather than because you are passionate about what you are doing, then maybe you could work less and make the money you already have work harder for you. Looking into your investment options may be something you could consider. Zurich's investment plans and calculators are one of the options out there.
Audit Your Day
Ever find that you are working, but never making any progress? If you're always at your desk, but never making any headway, it's time to stop and take stock of your working day. Take some time to examine just how you are spending your time at work, and the results could be surprising. You may feel that you are chained to your laptop, but in reality, you may realize that you are busy being busy, but not busy being productive.
How much of the time when you are at work, are you working? When you feel like you have loads to do, it can feel hard to get properly started, and you may end up inadvertently procrastinating, probably without even realizing it. Some people find that setting themselves a certain amount of time to work on a particular task helps them to focus more on the job in hand, and by giving it their full attention, they get it completed more quickly.
Another useful way of getting the most out of your day is by examining the things that you are doing and assessing if they are essential. For example, do you need to drive a three hour round trip to attend that meeting, or is something that could have been discussed over a conference call?
Making the time that you are spending at work count, is a far more effective way to get things done AND get some down time too.
Take a Break
Taking a break from your work when you are busy may seem counterintuitive, but in fact, it is just the opposite. Taking a break is more likely to increase your productivity rather than harm it. If you are sat at your laptop, not getting anywhere with what you are doing, taking a little time away from it can make all the difference.
Stretch your legs, take a walk in the fresh air, or grab a bite to eat – whatever you decide to do on your break, you are sure to come back refreshed and more able to tackle the task more productively. Creating that bit of space between your work and yourself can help you to clear your head and focus more when you return to your desk.
Spend it Wisely
When you are spending a lot of your time at work, you may find that there are times of the day that you are more productive than others. You may also find that there are places that you can work more effectively than others. Thinking about where and when you work at your best, can help you to achieve more in the time you spend at work. If, for example, you find yourself getting more done in a couple of hours by waking up early, and plowing through your emails at home, uninterrupted, than you usually get done in the rest of the working day, then this could be a useful work pattern to adopt, where possible.
Identifying where and when you are at your most productive, can help you to achieve more in a shorter space of time, and who knows may even enable you to shorten your working day! Thinking outside of the box, and being more creative with your work time to understand and adopt the best working pattern for you is a useful way to not only get more done but feel a greater sense of flow and satisfaction in what you do.
If you are stuck in the habit of feeling that you have to be working every waking hour, and then some more on top of that, hopefully, this helps you see that changing your perspective can make a difference. Rethinking the way you work and how you do it, will not only make you more productive during the times you are working but also make you feel a lot better about the balance between your work life and the rest of your life too.