It is a pretty common thought that the harder someone works the more successful they will be. And while it is true that any accomplishment is preceded by diligence and persistence, do not confuse work that consumes time with work that creates value.
Here are eight ways you can work smarter, and maximize the value of your efforts:
1. Have a Purpose
No matter what you are doing it should have a purpose. If you cannot answer, “What is the purpose of your meeting, day, or career?” Then is it really worth pursuing? It is easy to get distracted on tasks that do not contribute (or contribute very little) to your goals–avoid them at all costs. Ideally, every action that you take throughout your work day is one out of strategy and intent. Purposeful execution allows you to concentrate on the action items and responsibilities most important to your business.
“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” –Henry David Thoreau
2. Stick to a Routine
We are creatures of habit—develop a routine and stick to it as much as possible! By committing yourself to a regimented schedule you know what to expect from your day, and know how to best allocate your time to maximize the return. Additionally, a solid schedule makes you aware of how you are actually spending your time so you can cut out those unrewarding tasks that suck the “day” out of your workday.
3. Make a List or Two
…or three, or four.
Make list’s for your day, week, month, and year, that align with your business goals and keep yourself accountable. Highlight the most important things that need to be done for each time period and make sure you are spending time on the priority action items to get them checked off. This is the best important way to insure that important things do not get overlooked and that you are meeting deadlines on time. Remember: huge goals are made of small tasks!
Find things that have to be done only by you and delegate the rest. Do not let busy-work get in the way of accomplishing things that are highly valuable. Look in house—is there someone on your team that could handle the work? If not, or if it isn’t the best use of their time either, check out websites like Fancy Hands that specialize in handling menial tasks on the cheap.
5. Remove Distractions
Avoid the urge to get on Facebook, surf the web, run personal errands, or make personal phone calls during your time spent working. These are all just distractions that are getting in the way of accomplishing your goals. As you develop a habit of working while at work, and dedicating time for everything else while away from the office you will be more productive and more likely to accomplish your goals. It will also make your free time more enjoyable as you can truly spend your time relaxing.
6. Build an All-Star Team
Accept the fact that you are not the best at everything, and surround yourself with people who’s skills compliment, challenge, and maximize yours. It is a lot of work and waste of energy to try to be great at EVERYTHING. Work to your strengths, and hire for your weaknesses. Think about it this way: Would you rather have your car assembled by one person who was marginally good at everything, or by ten people who were phenomenal at what they did, but didn’t really have experience with the other parts of the manufacturing process.
7. Focus On The Task At Hand
Business culture seems to dictate that multi-tasking is a good trait. Balderdash! Our brains can only do so many things at once, so focus on the task at hand and focus on doing it really, really well. Constantly switching between tasks is a waste of energy, and leads to mediocre results and more mistakes. If you have two things that must get done: focus on doing one as soon and as precisely as possible, then move to the other. You will find that the quality of your work will increase, and the time spent on the projects will decline.
8. Celebrate Small Wins
At times, we all get so focused on accomplishing our next goal or task, we forget to recognize our accomplishments. Take time out of your week or month to reflect and appreciate your recent accomplishments. Positive emotions are essential in staying motivated and help us all perform at a higher level.
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