Work Smarter, Not Harder
If you’re looking for strategies that will help you work smarter, you probably have already tried a few things. Success is measured by what happens during the hours we have, so it’s our job to make use of those hours.
With 40-hour work weeks, errands to run, and tons of responsibilities pouring in from all sides, how does one make the most of their work week?
There is a light at the end of the tunnel that doesn’t involve staggering amounts of caffeine or all-nighters.
Below are a 5 strategies that will help maximize work habits and productivity without overworking you.
- I know it sucks, but you have to wake up earlier. If you’re anything like me, you dread early mornings like the plague. However, early mornings can give you some much needed time to yourself before you begin taking on the day’s challenges. You can use the extra hour to do nothing, meditate, shower, make some breakfast—to take care of yourself. When you’re working 40 hours a week (especially if it’s for someone else), it’s super important to steal all of the moments you can. It might be hard at first, but over time, you’ll see that this is one of the best things you can do to kick-start your day.
- Keep lists and prioritize. I am the first to get overwhelmed. I’m also the most forgetful person I know. Lists help me organize and prioritize my day. With lists, I can notate what needs to get done and tackle the smaller things first. When you’re having a hard day, you’ll feel an ounce of satisfaction knowing you crossed 3 things off your list before noon, even if they’re small.
- Get enough sleep. This can seem counter-intuitive to #1, but it’s imperative. The average adult needs anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep. Know your body. I, for instance, need 9 hours of sleep to function properly—which really sucks. If I get less than 9 hours in, I am sluggish the entire day and all of the content I write sounds like gibberish. But when I manage to get my 9 hours in, I am refreshed and clear minded. You will always do your best work when you take care of yourself first!
- Ask for help when you need it. I have also been guilty of this. Generally, employees don’t like asking for help when there is a culture of unrealistic expectations, or they lack self-confidence in the workplace. Sometimes a huge project gets thrown on your desk, or a client needs something ASAP, and you feel pressure to get it done “now.” It’s never wise to sacrifice quality for quantity, especially in business. If you’re in a position to ask for help, adjust the due date, or split up the work with a co-worker, do it. For the sake of quality and your sanity, you should always ask for help. If your company’s culture doesn’t take kindly to you asking for help or making adjustments, you should consider altering that culture or finding a different employer. There’s a boss out there who will appreciate this trait, I promise.
- Find a work flow. Find a workflow. This advice can be a tad difficult to navigate because workflows are unique to everyone. Take some time this week to examine your good days and bad days. On the days where you are productive, what are you doing differently? Maybe you do better in the first few hours of your workday, compared to the end. Perhaps you need to take 15-minute breaks every few hours. Do some experimenting and see what optimizes your productivity.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to remember that as we enter a new era of start-ups and entrepreneurs, we have to be mindful of our work habits.
This culture of always being “on” can be toxic to both your physical and mental health. You’re not a robot, so you shouldn’t work like one! What are some things you do to optimize your work day?