We have had this general idea that only through hard work you will achieve great things for a long time. The truth is that, yes, hard work pays off, but it might not be the most gratifying way to accomplish something. You need a combination of work and the right tools and strategies for the right tasks.
You need to work smarter, not harder. Where do you start?
Continue reading for our top 7 tips to start working more efficiently and as a result, find yourself a more productive person without burning yourself out!
1. Take a break (completely)
When you are working on a difficult, long, or hard task, take a breather. It might seem counterintuitive to move away from the task at hand, but taking a break will allow you to distress and give your brain a chance to refresh. While your conscious mind is not thinking about the project, your subconscious mind is still going at it. That is why we sometimes get the answer to a problem when we are not consciously thinking about it!
Studies have shown that our bodies were made to sleep two times a day. The first a long deep sleep, and the second a shorter one. Taking naps can improve your cognitive function, creative thinking, and memory. Naps are also useful to prevent burnout and be able to continue working effectively. Normally, our bodies get more tired in the early afternoon, so try listening to your body and find a time to take a nap, or rest if napping is not your thing!
3. Identify and remove distractions
Some distractions are obvious and easy to recognize, like having the email open at all times, or your favorite messaging app’s notifications on. Picture yourself working on a big project and you calculate that it will take you an hour to complete, with no distractions. But suddenly, you receive a notification that someone has liked your post on your feed, you check it and tell yourself, “it’s less than 10 seconds, no harm in checking”. Even though it is only 10 seconds, you break your focus and lose that headstart your brain already had when you began working. In the end, your productivity is greatly reduced, while using energy and not reaching the end goal: finishing your tasks.
4. Work in time blocks
Adding to the previous point, when defining your daily tasks and goals, set realistic standards. Instead of expecting to finish a whole project in one sit, divide the project into milestones to be completed in a certain amount of time. This way, every time you reach a step of the plan, you will feel accomplished and less stressed, increasing your productivity.
5. Use your “empty” spaces for something productive
Even if you plan ahead your daily activities, you will always have these blank spaces on your calendar. Take advantage of this time to make something productive that will add value to your day. For example, when in your lunch break, watch a tutorial video, or listen to a podcast. There are plenty of things you can do in these “empty” time-spaces, catch up on your emails, reach out to a colleague with a question you needed to ask, read a chapter of a book, and more! Doing so will reduce your need for multitasking and trying to do everything at the time you are actually doing some work.
6. Create routine habits
When you form a habit, the activity happens naturally and almost automatically, something you do not have to think about doing or try hard to remember because you just do. For example, if you need to update your colleagues on your progress in the project every Monday, make it a subconscious habit, freeing you of the necessity to remember. The catch is, creating a habit in the first place, is the hard part. Some experts say that if you make an effort to commit the action every day for 21 days in a row (some say 30 days), then your brain will adjust and find it natural to do so.
7. Work with your strengths and around your weaknesses
By now, you have worked on some projects, in teams, and individually and you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take on work that you are better at and stay away from the ones that you are slower at. Maybe in these tasks that require skills other than your strengths, work with someone who does. Delegate or work together with others to balance the workload and spend more time doing what you are good at!
Follow these tips, start building effective routines, and you will feel less stressed and more productive, working smarter, not harder!
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