10 Tips to Work Smarter, Not Harder

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Do you feel like you are burning the candle at both ends by putting in long hours at work but not achieving results?

So many of us spend hours behind our computers, on endless calls and in meetings, yet by the end of the week, our ‘to-do’ list seems alarmingly longer than it was on Monday morning.

Learning to work smarter, not harder, is an invaluable skill. Not only will your performance and productivity improve but so will your overall job satisfaction — you may even find that you have more time for yourself at the end of each day.

These are our top 10 tips for smarter working:

1. Measure your results, not your time

This one is self-explanatory. If you are putting in the hours but feeling deflated by lack of results and project completion, then it is time to re-evaluate how you manage your workload.

2. Keep your to-do list concise

Set yourself targeted outcomes and deliverables against your to-do lists. Splitting larger projects into smaller tasks that you can tick off as you go will encourage you to keep working your way down a long list. Tackling your least favourite task first is often a good way to move through a long list of tasks. 

3. Have a closing routine

This, in many ways, is more important than having a morning routine. Having a closing routine allows you to summarise and compartmentalise your outstanding to-do list and switch off for the evening so you can start the next day running. 

4. Block your calendar

Many believe that having a packed calendar full of meetings and calls means they are optimising their time. However, if you don’t block your calendar sporadically, you will never be able to follow up with any of these meetings and complete other tasks timeously and effectively. And what about that time for creative thought?

5. Respond quickly

Don’t put off responding to emails — not only does this add to your to-do list the next day, but it also looks unprofessional and often means an opportunity to close something is missed. Procrastination really is the ultimate thief of time.

6. Meetings should be productive

Before you send or accept a meeting invite ask yourself a few questions; is this meeting essential? How much of my time is this meeting worth? What are the desired outcomes of this meeting?

So often, people thoughtlessly accept meeting invites for hour-long slots without first thinking about the above. Many meetings can be effectively done within 15 minutes. Ensure you go into a meeting with a plan and set of deliverable outcomes to be achieved. Keep meetings concise and to the point and always end with action items (and follow up!). A good meeting starts with a good agenda.

7. Work 90-minute blocks

There is no point sitting at your computer for hours on end if you are unable to focus and be productive. Research shows that your brain is optimally able to focus for 90 minutes at a time. Taking more breaks will ensure the time you are spending working is spent productively. Perhaps 90 minutes isn’t your optimal time but know what yours is and stick to it.

8. Multitasking is not the answer

Switching from one task to another over a short period of time is not always productive. At the end of your day, you will find yourself with many incomplete tasks. It is better to focus on one task at a time and have one completed task instead of multiple unfinished ones.

9. Say ‘no’ more often

So much time is wasted on projects and work that is not essential. Often you end up saying yes to a task that you may not be the most skilled to do, using a lot more of your valuable time to complete. Understanding your capabilities and prioritising essential vs non-essential tasks is why saying ‘no’ every now and again is the smarter way to work. 

10. Slow down!

This may sound counterintuitive. Taking time to just slow down and sit back will allow you to evaluate, observe and ultimately allow you to make better, well thought out decisions.

At Geddes Capital, we encourage our team to use their time efficiently and effectively, achieving an optimal work-life balance. We encourage this for our clients too and aim to reduce your stress by finding funding options that minimize risk while maximizing growth. 

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