With a 24/7, do-it-all mentality, many people feel like they are putting in maximum effort at work and at home, but falling short in both areas. It may seem impossible to work more or work harder, but it is possible to work smarter. Small adjustments to time and energy management can help reduce stress, ensure tasks are completed, and ultimately improve quality of life.
Here are some strategies to work smarter, not harder, to maximize productivity:
1. Assess energy levels
Morning person? Night owl? Sluggish after lunch? Assess personal energy levels and figure out your optimal periods of productivity. Focus on high priority tasks during peak energy times, and leave mundane daily tasks, like email, to energy lulls.
2. Limit distractions
Avoid getting stuck in the ‘busy yet unproductive’ trap by scheduling regular focus time to complete major tasks. Block out several hours throughout the day to delve into projects that require the most mental energy and work without distraction. Avoid
checking email, put your cell phone away, and close unnecessary windows on your computer. Working intensely for a short period of time on one thing produces much stronger results than multitasking.
3. Use time-saving technology
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 and effort? Use technology where it can really help streamline todos, from task management apps, to automatic bill payment, to data reporting software. Get creative with solutions for tedious repetitive tasks.
4. Act decisively
People often get stuck in paralysis from overanalyzing a situation. Try spending less time
thinking and talking about what needs to be done and more time actually doing it. If the thought of a task seems overwhelming and daunting, don’t avoid it altogether. Break it up into smaller, manageable steps and get started.
5. Schedule in personal time
The whole point of working smarter is to create more time to enjoy life. Block out free time for exercise, cooking dinner, watching a movie, or seeing family and friends. Dedicating time to activities that cultivate joy, happiness and health will ultimately bring more fulfillment at work and in life.