Times have changed and after the first industrial revolution, people started understanding that working harder is not going to solve all our problems or complete tasks on time. Instead, working smarter will accomplish multiple tasks within a short period or solve problems with ease. So, how to work smarter and not harder? This concept of working smarter is almost a derivative of Parkinson’s law.
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”Cyril Northcote Parkinson
Here, I will tell you how to work smarter rather than harder and achieve what you intend to and thereby, utilising your time efficiently. Before you start, remember that all the points that you are about to read below are just a set of guidelines and steps that may help you out but they are not a set of laid down rules and your efficiency or productivity is based on you.
Plan your tomorrow:
The best way to start your day is to have a plan on what to to do for the day. Well, you can’t waste time in the morning doing that and so you will have to plan for tomorrow. Make a list of to-do things for the next day; that can have personal as well as professional works or simply your day at the office. This list may also have the pending tasks from your previous day, however, learn to prioritise which one is important. However, once you reach the office the next day, there will be more tasks waiting for you and that is why prioritising is so important. So, technically, your today starts yesterday.
One major mistake that we all do is just doing things or working on tasks as they come. Never do that. Once you have made your to-do list, prioritise them by marking their urgency and importance to be completed. Learn to use ITDs (Important Tasks of the Day) as an option to do that. After compiling the to-do list, name them as ITD 1,2,3 etc and it is also important to understand that not all tasks of the day will be ITDs. Hence, use the 75-25 ratio which means you will spend 75% of your time for the ITDs and 25% for the rest of the tasks. According to Parkinson’s law, your work will always expand based on the time available to you and hence playing the 75-25 game is the best way to accomplish tasks.
If you think doing multiple tasks at the same will help you achieve more efficiency then you are wrong. According to neuro-scientist Earl Miller of MIT, multi-tasking is a delusion of the mind and has never been proven to be efficient for work space. He says ” the human brain has a very limited capacity of thinking multiple tasks at a time and by doing so it ruins a person’s creativity, thought process and eventually kills productivity”. Therefore, if you are thinking that multi-tasking will give you extra time, stop doing that immediately because you can’t write while you are eating, right?
As all of us know, one of the attributes of any successful person is that they never lost focus on what they were supposed to accomplish. So, focus on what you want to accomplish and when working on one task do not think about the next one because that is taking your focus away from the present one in hand. After completing the task in hand, focus on the next one. This increases the concentration on work and helps your brain achieve maximum efficiency by keeping your creativity alive. If you think, at any point in between work, that you are not focusing then take a break and always try to avoid unwanted distractions. The best example of this is avoiding usage of mobile phones while driving because driving, just like your daily tasks in your office, requires focus and not a distraction.
Take regular breaks:
To be efficient and productive one has to give the brain enough break between tasks because when the brain is exhausted it can’t function efficiently. Hence taking regular breaks will help reduce the stress but remember to keep these breaks short and sweet. Many people tend to get distracted for a longer period of time during such breaks and lose time unnecessarily. There are many ways to reduce stress during such breaks and the most commonly adopted method is having a cup of coffee or lighting a cigarette. I will not advise either of that or any other method that is unhealthy. One way which I have experienced to be working for me is to laugh out watching a comedy clip. Laughing takes away stress and makes you lighter, thereby helping your thoughts flow like a river.
Have a positive attitude:
Many of us work in large organizations, companies or IT firms and we always come across issues such as criticism from peers and seniors, unsupportive colleagues and more importantly jealousy towards another employee. Jealousy can come out of two factors: either the person is very efficient, productive and is appreciated by all or the person is close to a senior to whom you wanted to be a confidant. In any which case, all these issues have one common root and that is not having the right attitude at work. I am not saying that you are at fault always but having the right attitude at work will always have your colleagues back you up and having a supportive team is an important key to be productive. This does not necessarily imply that you have to be flexible all the time but, at times, it may be the need of the hour and you cannot miss the chance of being diplomatic. Whatever you work on, wherever you work in and whomever you work with, have a positive attitude and avoid such petty issues to be cheerful.
Love what you do:
Many of you may say “I don’t like my job because I did not expect this job or ‘this‘ in my job”. Every one of us has gone through this stage and the important thing to remember is you don’t always get all that what you want in life . So, it doesn’t mean that what you got is not worth it and sometimes the job deserves you more than you deserve the job. Life won’t stop here and there may be a time when you will get something even better than you ever imagined. And so every job is a class and every task is a lesson; learn it and love what you have learnt because there is someone out there with your qualities and abilities but has not learnt what you have. Therefore love what you do.
Stick to a routine:
You have followed all the steps mentioned above on day one. Now what? It is more important to stick to what you have implemented day after day than just the initial few days. Sticking to this routine will eventually make it a habit and you will get used to it. This will not just help you in developing a habit but will save you a lot of time. Further, sticking to your routine also means you would have completed all the assignments of the day in time and hence always make sure you leave office in time. Things that do not have the priority today will have a place in tomorrow’s and working extra hours on such a thing is a waste of time. And keep checking your to-do list of the day.
I won’t guarantee you a victory if you follow these steps but it will definitely make you work smarter than harder and that is the ultimate goal. With the advancement of technology we are racing towards a smart world and why not you!!
It is not the load that breaks you down but the way you carry it!! Be smart. Be successful.
Let me know how much was this useful to you in the comments below.