One of the most commonly used pieces of advice given to entrepreneurs and business owners is the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder.” While there have been countless books written and published on this philosophy, there is no standard approach for actually implementing it. Everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, and workflows. The goal is to find your own process and to focus on improving efficacy through creative ways.
This post covers a few tips on how you can work smarter, instead of harder.
Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses
In order to work smarter, first, identify your strengths and weaknesses, then utilize your skills to produce the best results. Work with others who complement your weaknesses with their strengths in order to accomplish a goal neither of you would have been able to on your own. The goal is to avoid wasting hours struggling to accomplish minor tasks that do not play up your strengths. Focus on tasks that you know you can knock out the best and most efficiently. For other tasks that you are not as skilled in, reach out to fellow employees, or try to connect with other professionals who focus mainly on that space to help accomplish what you can’t.
Get Into The Habit Of Timing Yourself
Many people get into the habit of using to-do lists, or perhaps implementing a project management system. These solutions help provide a foundation for productivity, but very few people know how long each task will take to complete. To increase efficiency and the ability to work smarter, it makes sense to understand how long a specific task will take to implement. Imagine there is an hour of the work day left, rather than start a task that will take three hours to complete, think about a task that’ll take an hour or less. Some tasks may be dependent on other people, so the sooner you complete your part, the sooner other staff members can begin their part of the project. Every time you complete a job, make a note of how long it took so that you can estimate better the next time a similar assignment comes around in the future.
Don’t Get Distracted By Your Email
Employees sit down to complete a task, and after 5 minutes, an email or 2 arrives. Without even thinking about it, they click on that email, read it, handle the request, and return to their original task maybe 20-30 minutes later if they’re lucky and don’t get distracted by another email in the mix. This constantly happens throughout the day, with many people then convinced they have worked a solid 8 hours and achieved a lot. The reality is that their original task may be far from complete, because of the distractions their many emails have caused. One way to take control over your email is to look into differentemail management systems that help with priority and organization. As with all management systems, once learned and implemented adequately, this will help with productivity in your operations, and allow you to work smarter.
Take More Breaks
Stephen Covey tells the story of the woodcutter who constantly works, while throughout the day his blade has become dull. In his determination to work hard, he ignores the fact that his blade is not as sharp as it once was and keeps working. But if the woodcutter had taken a break and sharpened his axe, the task would have been completed in a much more efficient manner.
Within the business environment, you are the most valuable asset, and you need to ensure that you are always working to your fullest potential. Research has demonstrated continuously that the human brain is only capable of producing its best work in 90-minute increments. After that, concentration starts to wane and productivity drops. Although you might feel that you are working hard, you would be much better served to stop, take a break for 15 minutes and relax. When you start to work again, your brain will be refreshed, your productivity increased, and you will achieve much more. Although it may not always be an option to take regular breaks, try to build these into your schedule to maximize your productivity and brain power.
At Novel Coworking, our focus is on delivering first-class coworking spaces for small business owners and entrepreneurs. We are constantly striving to identify ideas and concepts that can help our clients enhance and grow their business.