In a world of go-go-go, do-do-do, more-more-more, many feel like they are working at maximum capacity at work and at home, yet falling short in both areas. It may seem impossible to work more or work harder, but perhaps it is possible to work differently. Slight adjustments to time and energy management may relieve stress, help get things accomplished, and ultimately improve quality of life.
Here are some strategies to work smarter without working harder:
Assess energy levels. Morning person? Night owl? Sluggish after lunch? Assess personal energy levels, focus on high priority tasks during peak energy times and leave mundane daily tasks, like email, to energy lulls.
Schedule focus time. To avoid getting stuck in the “busy yet unproductive” trap of daily details, try to schedule regular focus time to complete major tasks. Set an appointment to work without distraction. Avoid checking email or self-interrupting, and really delve into projects that require the most mental energy, critical thinking and analysis. Working intensely for a short period of time produces much stronger results than working for days tired and distracted.
Act decisively. People often get stuck in paralysis from analysis. Try spending less time thinking about what needs to be done, and more time actually doing what needs to get done. If the thought of a task seems overwhelming and daunting, try not to avoid it altogether. Just start working at it, try to get in the zone, and see how it goes.
Get creative with time-saving solutions. Take a good look at time-wasters. What is really keeping a task from moving forward? Can routine and repetitive tasks be automated? Can a minor process improvement save time, energy and stress? Use technology where it can really help streamline tasks, like in data organization and reporting. Sometimes the simplest solutions are overlooked when people are too busy or overwhelmed to think clearly.
Enjoy free time. The whole point of working smarter is to create more time to enjoy life; not fill that time with more work so that you’re more busy and exhausted than ever. Relax, savor a meal, laugh with family and friends and do whatever makes you most happy.
Taking a little time to examine how you work and make positive changes not only builds productivity, but builds happiness and quality of life.
Laura McDermott is Media Relations Manager for ACI Specialty Benefits. ACI Specialty Benefits consistently ranks in the nation’s Top Ten EAPs, and is a leading global provider of Employee Assistance Programs, Student Assistance, Wellness, Concierge and Work/Life services.