Successful People Work Smart, not just Hard24 Mar 2015

When thinking about how you work, you really should take into consideration the fact that it's not just how hard you work, but how optimal your working practices are, that matters.

Successful people work smart not just hard

Prioritize

This seemingly obvious tip is probably the key skill to have if you want to learn to work smart. As far as time waste and time savings go, this is the area of activity where improvements are made.

Minimize the amount of context switching

This produces waste and waste alone. Whenever you need to switch from task A to B and back again, this creates a waste of the mind-set that you have created in order to do the job. Having to switch back and forth (multi-task) generates heaps of this sort of waste.

Research a lot more deep than it's really required

Thanks to taking this approach you'll get a much better understanding of all problems and probably will grab some additional knowledge, which will prove useful in the future.

Be prepared

By good planning and following the calendar you'll most likely manage to avoid any traps of an unexpected urgent work, ruining your entire schedule. You'd think it's common sense, but surprisingly even those of us who do place events in the calendar, often don't remember to check or adhere to them.

Get as much information from other people as you can

This goes for asking questions, inquiring, looking into other solutions etc. It's usually more than likely that someone around you already knows what you're looking for.

Realize that the act of doing something is not equivalent to being productive

Simply following the standard steps and telling yourself that this is going somewhere doesn't yet mean getting something done, does it? It's very much like doing work for the sake of working – rarely being related to adding value to the product or to moving a project along.

Draw big pictures and discuss what you do with others

To visualize / realize what it is that you're doing and how it's meant to be done. Seeing things and talking them over with people facilitates better understanding, remembering and perfecting of the action. Also, please remember, that knowing why you're doing something is much powerful than just knowing
how to do it.

Ensure that you know the environment that you're in

Not knowing how to use the office hardware or how to find important documents in the office can effectively put a stop to your productivity. It's better to spend a little time learning the surroundings than to have to ask for help whenever you come across a problem.

Set a limit to how many times one thing can annoy you

There is a very cool rule of 3 annoyances – when a small problem comes your way for the third time in a row, rather than trying to work around it, just solve it. Say it's the third time this week you're approaching the photocopying machine and it's broken – rather than going to the other floor to make your copies, just call the service and get it fixed. You'll gain time and save yourself further annoyance.

Relax and take breaks

Whatever it is that you're doing, doing it when relaxed brings much better results than doing this when you're tense. Relaxation and keeping a good distance from the work is always a good investment. Holding regular breaks allows you to keep the focus sharp and to stay well motivated throughout the day.

Manage similar tasks in batches

It's a great time saving and a cut-down of distraction and avoidance of context switching to work items in bulk. Tasks such as answering email, calling people back, preparing documentation etc. are done much more effectively when worked in sets. For instance check the inbox once an hour rather than keep it open all the time, as it's creating a distraction. You are also more effective when you're answering in bulk, than when having to get into the communicative mind-set for each and every one email.

There is a lot more that can be done to work smarter. The key is to think about what and how you do things, look back at how you've been getting on, so that any improvements are actually possible. When properly organized, it's most likely that any job can be made easier and more pleasant to do.