• Troy Jeanes

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Updated: 19 hours ago

Every day, we must decide what tasks we should do now and what tasks we can leave a little longer. Most of us will start by selecting the task we know we can get done easily and leave the painful tasks for as long as we can.

Working smart isn't complicated; it's simply about focusing on what's important, not just easy. Let's build our abilities to leverage specific tools and methods. We'll be able to get our jobs done more efficiently, effectively, and of high quality. Everyone has their own 'hacks,' but below are some of mine.

Prioritize Your Tasks

The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. With this in mind, you can easily strategize as you conduct your work. What are the most strategically important activities for you? These make up 20%. Identify these and direct most of your energy and time toward these activities. Learn to say no to demands that are not important and not waste time trying to perfect mundane activities. Focus and prioritize.

Set Deadlines For Important Tasks

Divide major tasks into smaller, manageable tasks. If we try to focus on how to eat the elephant, we'll think it's impossible. We'll eventually get through it if we eat it one bite at a time. Focus on doing each smaller part with quality, and the eventual outcome will be quality also.

Set Your Plan Regularly

It's not possible to do everything at once. Categorize tasks according to their importance, and use your experience to identify the time it's going to require to do these tasks. Create a to-do list. Put it in your planner (i.e., Outlook Calendar).

Delegate Whenever Possible

We're not the only ones that can 'do it right. If we invest some time in training others, we allow ourselves the ability to delegate tasks in the future. This is a long-term solution, but you must start with some recognition that others can do it, also.

Manage Your Time

Make a plan, and execute that plan. There will also be circumstances that require you to change and adjust your plan, but allocating time to tasks forces you to consider these things. Work hard to eliminate distractions and focus on whatever you allocate that time too.

Learn to Type

Everything we do is a learned skill. If you need to use a keyboard, learn to use it the best you can. There are plenty of free programs to help you learn to type faster. Don't underestimate the time and stress that touch-typing will save you. Learn shortcuts (Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, etc.); they might only save a few seconds but imagine how much time this is over your career.

Pick Up The Phone

Sadly, many have forgotten the importance of building relationships and failed to communicate properly. We've developed this false belief that it's 'safer' to email than it is to call. What an email does, though, is slow things down - email allows the recipient to disregard or de-prioritize your email because of the impersonal nature of the email. You'll save a lot of time by simply calling a colleague, having a discussion, and making your request. The side benefit is building stronger relationships that you can leverage at some future date.

Take Your Breaks

Being able to work long hours might seem like an enviable trait. However, ultimately it is a demonstration that you cannot manage your work effectively. Working for long periods is counter-productive; your mental acuity will decline, and your physical fatigue will increase. You will burn out - simple as that. During the workday, take your breaks; even short breaks or a short walk to the bathroom will get the blood flowing, increase your energy levels, refresh your mind, and restore your energy to keep going.

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