There are plenty of people who deeply underestimate the ability to work smarter and not harder. While hard work is its own reward, it’s better to exert it in situations that require it. In many situations within the workplace, you just need to become more strategic and smart about the way you approach your work.
When you do this, you’ll become even more effective. If you’ve found yourself in a rut where you struggle to complete tasks to the best of your ability, it’s time to examine your workflow and consider a different approach. With the following five hacks, you can implement a strategic plan that’ll help you become more effective, confident in your abilities and productive.
1. Avoid the temptation to multi-task.
There’s a term called decision fatigue. It’s when people struggle to make the right decisions because they’ve made so many throughout the day. Decision fatigue tends to happen closer toward the end of the day. In order to eliminate decision fatigue, notable figures like President Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook tend to wear the same look each day. That’s one less decision they need to make. This frees their brain to focus on the most important decisions of the day.
If your brain needs space to focus on one singular task at a time, it’s a terrible idea to get into the habit of multi-tasking. Too often, people see multitasking as a sign of efficiency and productivity. Truthfully, your brain can only comprehend so much at a time. Knowing this, it’s best to work smarter and focus on one task at a time when you’re ready to work.
If you’re taking a conference call, focus your attention on taking the call. Don’t try to write a full-fledged email while you’re on the call. You can make a costly mistake that way. Once you focus on the task in front of you, it’ll be easier to process what’s happening. You’ll also get through each task in a shorter amount of time.
2. Eliminate distractions.
One of the biggest distractions of this generation is technology. More specifically, tons of people waste a lot of time on social media platforms. They mindlessly scroll for hours on end. As a result, they look up, three hours have passed and they’ve missed the opportunity to work smarter. This is the time you can’t get back. Knowing this, it’s best to create a schedule for the scrolling. If you don’t want to give it up cold turkey, you don’t have to.
However, place your phone in an area where you can’t reach it. Then, be mindful of how often you go to check it. Set a timer that shows you how much time you’re actually scrolling. Work on decreasing that time by fifteen minutes each week. You can reward yourself by designating a few minutes each evening to scroll through all that you missed during the day.
However, it’s important to recognize when you’ve been using social media as a coping mechanism or an escape route from your actual life. Instead, work smarter by making your life better so that you don’t feel the strong urge to get lost in your phone.
3. Get comfortable.
A supportive chair is golden when you have to sit for hours on end. Instead of sitting uncomfortably for hours, make sure to invest in a supportive chair that cushions your back well. If you prefer to keep your feet up as you work, find a footrest that you can use at your desk. If you’d prefer to stop sitting so much, this is a positive habit to consider as many studies suggest that sitting is the new smoking.
Many manufacturers have created efficient standing desks. You can use the standing desk to remain mobile while you’re getting lots of circulation and movement. When you’re comfortable, it’ll be easier to do your job well. If you tend to be hot at your desk, get a desk fan. Create the necessary environment in order to be as efficient as you need to be.
4. Create time limits.
Since you’re not a robot, it’s going to be very challenging to sit up straight and type for eight hours straight. Instead of killing yourself with this type of rigid structure, create time limits for all of the tasks you need to take care of. It’s best to do the most challenging task first so that it’s out of the way. Plus, it can be a confidence booster when you tackle the challenging task. That momentum can spill over to the next task. Use a concept like the Pomodoro Method to keep track of your time as you work on longer projects. As you’re able to gradually build the time between breaks, you’ll increase your capacity to be effective for a sustained period of time.
5. Take breaks.
When you’d like to work smarter, you need to consider breaks. You’ll be the most effective when you learn how to relax and take breaks. If you’re constantly working without recharging, you’re going to burn yourself out. In order to avoid this, schedule breaks for five to ten minutes at a time. Take a longer break at lunchtime. As you take breaks, step away from your desk to get a sip of water, walk around the building or run to the local coffeehouse. As you take the time to refuel yourself with breaks, you’ll work smarter, be more focused, more effective and sustain yourself for the long haul.
As you work toward developing your expertise in these areas, recognize that it won’t happen overnight. As you’re working to change and shift your mindset in regards to work, you’ll need to unlearn a lot of habits that you’ve developed over the years. This can become a potentially frustrating experience.
The key is to be gentle with yourself. As you take it one step at a time and remember that the process is a gradual yet permanent change you’d like to make, you’ll be able to maintain a consistent rhythm towards becoming more effective and efficient within the workplace.