Most of us have a tendency to work harder, rather than smarter, when we need to get more done. This is fine in the short-term but working harder isn’t smart over the long haul.
It makes more sense to work smarter, because it saves time and can be applied 100% of the time going forward. You can’t consistently keep increasing the intensity or duration of your work. There are limits.
But, there’s always a way to work smarter!
1. Focus on what is most effective. One way of working smarter is to identify and concentrate on the tasks that are giving you the best bang for your time. At any moment, you could be performing one of a variety of tasks. How certain are you that you’re spending your time most wisely?
- We often gravitate toward tasks that are easy or comfortable. Ensure that you’re using effective criteria when deciding how to use your time.
- We’re all skilled at wasting time in our own way. Eliminating this downtime is one of the ways to work more efficiently.
2. Review your actions daily. Review your day and decide if you used the day as well as you could have. Look for ways to improve. Look for ways to waste less time. Become just a tiny bit better each day, and the difference in your results will astound you.
3. Avoid the belief that grinding harder is always the solution. We often associate greater success with greater effort. But working harder isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it makes more sense to sharpen your axe than it does to swing it harder or for more hours each day.
4. Review your results. If what you’re doing isn’t working well, continuing down that path is silly. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Choose your actions accordingly. To fail to review your results is like trying out a new diet but never weighing yourself.
5. Ask yourself, “What is the logical outcome from how I spend my day?” While you’re reviewing your day, ask yourself what would happen if you repeated that day for the next five years. Construct a day that will logically lead to the destination you desire.
6. Set time limits. One way to force yourself to work smarter is to limit how much time you’re going to give to a task or to your workday. Strive to get more done in the same amount of time. The only way to make regular progress is to alter your approach. Working harder will only get you so far.
7. Continue to learn. The more you know, the smarter you can work. What do you need to learn in order to work more efficiently? What knowledge will allow you to do a better job without spending more time? Ensure you’re learning the right things.
- Seek out the experts in your field. Learn what you can from them. Avoid trying to figure out everything on your own. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.
While we admire someone that can grind, it’s not an effective long-term strategy. Avoid the temptation to just lower your head and grind through to the finish line on a regular basis. It’s much more intelligent and efficient to learn how to work smarter.
Once you learn a better way of doing things, you can continue using that knowledge forever.