Work Smarter Not Longer

You hear this often in advertising, especially for exercise equipment.  There is something to this principle at least as far as working is concerned.  Beginning your workday with a plan could mean you finish early and with less effort.

Use that noggin to make your work more structured.  Perhaps you’ve been in the situation before where you have several deadlines looming and a desk full of work that still needs to be done.  You want to pull your hair out but don’t relish being bald.  What you want more is a system to keep this from happening every month.

One solution is to work smarter.  One tool you have is a calendar.  It can be a desk calendar, virtual calendar or a day planner.  Log all of your due dates for work in the calendar.  Virtual calendars give the added benefit of alarms and pop-up reminders to keep you on track.  For those who travel, PDAs and planners keep you aware of looming deadlines, meetings and paydays.

Examine your week at a glance. With one or two deadlines, plan the projects you will work on each day accordingly.  To avoid boredom, divide your time into blocks.  Timeboxing is a technique that works this way.  During each block of time, work on a different task.  Keep adding blocks throughout your week until that task is finished.  At the end of the day, you’ll find that you completed work on several projects and spent less time evaluating what to do.

Limit the amount of work you take on at any one time.  It’s nice to be able to accommodate your clients but let’s be realistic.  There are only so many hours in the day and all of them can’t be spent working.  You are allowed to have a life.

To that end, don’t stack the deck against you.  Give yourself the time you need to finish a project.  Some will be short and require less time than others.  Don’t work yourself into a corner but handle only what you can successfully cope with.  As your skills and speed improve, you can add a few more projects.

Take a break to refresh.  All work and no play as they say…  Schedule in time for socialization.  A person who is well-rounded enjoys their work.  Work is not their entire life but a small part.  Even if you own your own business, taking a breather lets you unwind from the pressure and jump back in with fresh ideas and more energy.

End each day with a tentative plan for tomorrow.  We all know that life happens, but without a plan, work doesn’t happen.  Give yourself and your clients your best by planning ahead and making the best use of your time each day to work, laugh and live.

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